NCAA Tournament Picks: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Duke Blue Devils in National Championship Game

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, April 5, 2015 1:59 PM GMT

Here is our free sport pick & prediction for the 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament Championship, taking place on Monday night between the Wisconsin Badgers & Duke Blue Devils.

In an NCAA Tournament National Championship Game rated a toss-up by the oddsmakers Monday night, we actually feel that one team has the edge when those Wisconsin Badgers (36-3, 21-2 away/neutral) take on the Duke Blue Devils (34-4, 19-3 away/neutral) in a battle of one-seeds from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN at 9:18 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has this contest as a complete toss-up with the current line at Pick’em with odds of -105 for each side.

 

Badgers Had Lower Odds before Tournament
You may recall that before this NCAA Tournament began, Wisconsin was actually the third choice on the tournament futures while Duke was the fourth choice, and that was with an Arizona team that was the second choice to win it all being in the same region as the Badgers, meaning a matchup with the Wildcats in the Elite Eight was inevitable. That means that Wisconsin would have had much lower odds than Duke if their regions were more balanced.

Thus we expected the Badgers to be small favorites here, especially after being the winning NCAA Basketball pick over previously undefeated Kentucky in the Final Four round on Saturday, but Duke may be a bit overvalued (or more overvalued as usual) after a string of admittedly impressive wins but over what most would agree are lesser opponents than the teams that the Badgers have beaten to get here.

More NCAA Tournament Picks for Wisconsin Badgers vs. Duke Blue Devils

Wisconsin Beat the Undefeated Giant
And of course the penultimate conquest for Wisconsin so far was beating previously 38-0 Kentucky on Saturday 71-64, preventing the Wildcats from making history by becoming the first undefeated NCAA Basketball National Champions since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers. Interestingly enough, that marked the fourth straight win for the Badgers by exactly seven points, but the real story is who the wins have come against.

This tournament began for Wisconsin with an easy 86-72 win over Coastal Carolina in the Round of 64, but since then the Badgers have beaten Oregon, which was a nice major-conference opponent for the Round of 32, North Carolina, Arizona and of course Kentucky! The latter two teams were the two favorites to win this tournament before it began while North Carolina is ranked 12th in the country on the Pomeroy Ratings and played Duke tough twice.

That seven-point win over the Tar Heels is a good omen for the Badgers facing another top ACC team here, as is the fact that Wisconsin is ranked third in the country overall on Pomeroy, with Duke just behind in fourth. The Badgers lead the nation in offensive efficiency and in offensive turnover margin at just 12.5 percent vs. a national average of 19.1 percent, and they are 16th in effective field goal percentage at 55.0 percent.

And you can ask Kentucky what a matchup nightmare the seven-foot probable Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky presents as a center with a complete game including the ability to step out and hit three-pointers, as he is shooting 41.2 percent from beyond the arc.

 

Duke Playing Surprising Defense
Duke’s run to this championship game has been sparked by the best Duke defense we have seen in many years. The Blue Devils held Michigan State to 22-of-55, 40.0 percent shooting in an 81-61 rout on Saturday, and to give you an idea just how suffocating the defense has been, that performance actually raised the points allowed for Duke in this tournament to 55.0 points per game and the field goal percentage allowed to 37.4 percent!\

Still, remember that this is a Blue Devils’ defense that ranks a rather pedestrian 70th in the nation in effective field goal percentage allowed at 46.5 percent overall, and Duke has been helped by having an easier path to get here beating Robert Morris, San Diego State, Utah, Gonzaga and the seventh seeded Michigan State in the Final Four. Gonzaga is the highest ranked of all those opponents, but the Bulldogs might have been outclassed after dominating the weak WCC.

That makes Wisconsin the toughest challenge for Duke since it lost to Notre Dame in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, and we do not expect the newfound defensive success for the Blue Devils to continue here, especially with Kaminsky presenting a defensive challenge they have probably not had all year.

 

Badgers Get Their Revenge?
Finally, remember that Wisconsin finished 15-1 at home this season with the lone loss coming 80-70 to this Duke team early in the year in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Both teams seem to be improved since then however, but the fact that Wisconsin has been beating much better teams could set it up to get its revenge here.

Add this all up and look for the Wisconsin Badgers to be crowned the 2014-15 National Champions with a win over Duke in the Championship Game from Indianapolis on Monday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Wisconsin Pick’em (-105)