The national title game put in perspective
By TAYLOR ROSEN
College Contributor Network
I'm sure by now, many of you know the national champion of the 2015 college basketball season is the Duke Blue Devils, yet again. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has now earned his fifth national championship in his 35 years of leading the Duke program. But this one was unique, it was the way Duke captured the crown that have many basketball fans questioning their accomplishment.
Duke trailed the Badgers by nine, early on in the second half. It was then, when Duke's freshmen came into the game, and came of age while Okafor and Winslow were forced to sit due to foul trouble. The four freshmen actually managed to score every single one of Duke's 37 second half points, with 29 of those points coming in the final 13 minutes of game action.
While Winslow and Okafor certainly helped chip in during the come back effort, it was the other freshmen on Duke's roster who stepped up big, and delivered Coach K his fifth national championship, but not without some controversy. The last five or six minutes of game action was an absolute joke from the fan perspective. Nearly every single play consisted of an issue or controversy that needed to be reviewed.
The one defining call, that I believe cost the Badgers this game, and the national championship, came in the final two minutes of play. On what refs will tell you is the hardest call to make in the game, who touched it last before going out of bounds. But on this night, we had a super slo-mo and up-close and personal view of the play. To me, and the announcers who were broadcasting the game, it was clear that the ball tipped off of Justise Winslow's finger just before going out of bounds, but the refs claimed "they just couldn't see it." I've never heard or seen anything so bizarre like that in such a big moment. Duke was given a free possession, and they certainly took advantage of it. The Blue Devils came down, and found Tyus Jones open for three. Jones hit the shot, and extended the Blue Devils' lead to six, with around 90 seconds left to play.
The Badgers did everything they could to scrap and claw back into it, but that call seemed to be the deciding factor, in my honest opinion. You can't also forget the four no-calls on clear charges from Duke players down the stretch of regulation. I'm not quite sure what was going on, but the game just didn't seem fair to both sides. Wisconsin had 13 fouls called against them in the second half, many of those calls were questionable, but there's nothing a team can do but keep playing through it. That's what Wisconsin did, and in the end they came up just five points short. An amazingly impressive performance and season from a Badgers team that has 0 McDonald's All-Americans recruits, who came ever-so-close to knocking both Kentucky and Duke out of the tournament, two teams stacked with McDonald's All-Americans.
Then you have Bo Ryan's infamous post-game press conference comments. Personally, I don't and I can't, disagree with anything that Ryan said in that press conference. Obviously, one thing a coach never wants to do is completely blame the refs, but in this case, Ryan had no choice. His team was robbed down the stretch, and he let his emotions get the best of him in the press conference. Ryan went on to say that the Badgers don't do "rent-a-player" referring to Kentucky and Duke, two teams made up mostly of talented one-and-done freshmen players. Ryan also put the loss on the officials, which is what most people who know anything about basketball were thinking anyway.
It's really just a shame to see these young kids' hopes and dreams be decided by the officials, but there's no denying that's how it unfolded last night. I'm not saying Duke didn't earn this national championship, and coach K isn't a legend, and one of the greatest coaches of all time, but if you ask me, the Blue Devils were handed the National Championship last night.
Taylor Rosen is a junior at Kent State University. He spent time with The Stater covering Kent State football and basketball. Taylor is from Cleveland, and has Cleveland sports under a microscope. Follow him on Twitter: @T_Rosen11