Will Duke and Kentucky be upset in Final Four?
By LEA GINEFRA
College Contributor Network
As expected, March Madness has brought out the best and worst in teams and their fans, with exhilarating one-point games and heartbreaking, bracket-busting losses. I speak for myself as well because my bracket is in last place in almost all of the groups I am a part of. With that being said, there is still hope!
As long as Duke stays strong in the tournament, that gives myself (as well as anyone else who has them winning) the possibility to gain another 160 points if they enter the Championship, and 320 points if they take it all. For those who knocked them out early in the tournament due to their history of "choking," then all I have to say is "HAH!"
But before I get excited about the Championship game, let's get through the Final Four round. One-seed Duke will take on seven-seed Michigan State, while one-seed Kentucky will match up with other one-seed Wisconsin. Kentucky has been a favorite through out the tournament, just as they have been all season, but all of these teams have their own advantages.
Michigan State can be considered an underdog coming in as a seventh seed against three one-seeded teams. There have been three top seeds in the Final Four only five times in history (including this year). Don't let these numbers fool you though because the Spartans are not to be underestimated. The East Regional winners, led by Coach Tom Izzo, have appeared in the NCAA tournament for the past 18 seasons and made it into the Final Four seven times. Izzo has led the Spartans well, despite their somewhat rocky season. Sadly, there is not a spot in the Championship for rocky, inconsistent teams. If their typical, noteworthy defense doesn't hold up like it is known for doing, then their Cinderella story will be ended.
Coach Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils have won seven of their eight meetings against the Spartan's under Izzo's reign. The last time the two teams played against one another in the Final four was back in 1999, when Duke was top seed and Michigan St. was fifth. For Duke to make their record 8-1 against MSU, freshman center Jahlil Okafor needs to be on his A-game. In a previous matchup between the two teams in November 2014, he played great offensively, scoring 17 points. He needs to come prepared to deliver the same way, take on Michigan's three big men, and hope that they slip up on offense with turnovers.
The Kentucky-Wisconsin matchup will not be any easier to win than Duke vs. Michigan State. Both teams made a statement this season, and Wisconsin is still out for blood after losing in last year's tournament in the semi-finals. Wisconsin star, Frank Kaminsky, is prepared to take the win that he believes the Badgers deserve. Wisconsin's incredible offense this season has led them this far, which will hopefully allow them to score deep against Kentucky.
And last but not least, we have the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats who are trying to continue their streak. I believe through their collective and clean style of play, they can do so (even if their coach, John Calipari, may represent the exact opposite). Kentucky has big men to match up with Wisconsin's Kaminsky, so I personally don't think that he will be a problem for them. If the Wildcats manage to pull out their best defense for more than 30 seconds at a time, they should be able to contain Wisconsin both in and out of the paint.
So after these games take place, I'm predicting Duke and Kentucky coming out on top to play in the Championship, but as we all know, any of these teams has an equal shot at this point. We'll just have to wait and watch on April 4!
Lea Ginefra is a sophomore at Rutgers University majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. She is Vice President and point guard for the Rutgers Club basketball team. She is passionate about all sports, especially basketball. Lea also enjoys crime shows, fresh fruit, country music, and spending time with friends and family. Follow her on Twitter: @leag95