National Championship Betting Picks: #1 Wisconsin Badgers vs #1 Duke Blue Devils

2015 NCAA Tournament
National Championship Game

#1 Wisconsin Badgers vs #1 Duke Blue Devils
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Monday, April 6, 2015, 9:18 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Wisconsin Pick (-112)
Current Line: Wisconsin -1 (-115)
Opening Total: 140 1/2
Current Total: 140
Opening Money Line: Wisconsin -112 / Duke -108
Current Money Line: Wisconsin -120 / Duke +100 

Wisconsin is  slight favorite against Duke in the national championship game Monday night.
Wisconsin is slight favorite against Duke in the national championship game Monday night.

Usually it isn’t much of a surprise when two #1 seeds meet for the national championship in college basketball. However, only 4.4% of the more than 11.5 million entries in ESPN’s Tournament challenge correctly picked the 36-3 Wisconsin Badgers and 34-4 Duke Blue Devils to meet for the title in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. This is despite the fact that both teams have been ranked in the top five for almost the entirety of the season. This is mainly because Knetucky entered the Final Four with a perfect 38-0 record. Wisconsin ended Kentucky’s dream of becoming the first team to finish 40-0 and win a national title in Men’s basketball with a 71-64 Badgers win Saturday. Duke dismantled #7 seed Michigan State 81-61 in their semifinal game.

Duke leads the series 2-1 against Wisconsin, with all three meetings coming since 2006. Duke beat Wisconsin 80-70 in December earlier this season in Madison. The Blue Devils shot 65% from the field in that game. Duke and Wisconsin have never met in the NCAA Tournament game before tonight.

Wisconsin won the Big Ten by two games at 16-2. The Badgers won the Big Ten Tournament by beating Michigan State 80-69 in overtime in the championship game. Wisconsin beat #15 Coastal Carolina 86-72 in the second round and #8 Oregon 72-65 in the third round, both in Omaha. Wisconsin pulled away late against #4 seed North Carolina for  a 79-72 win in the Sweet 16 before beating #2 Arizona 85-78 in the West Regional Final Saturday in Los Angeles.The Badgers are making their 17th straight trip to the tournament and 21st overall. The Badgers are making their fourth ever trip to the Final Four and second straight. Wisconsin won the national title in 1941. The Badgers are playing in the national title game for the first tome since then.   Wisconsin went 16-2 against NCAA Tournament teams this season.

Duke finished second in the ACC at 15-3. The Blue Devils lost to Notre Dame in the ACC semifinals. Despite not winning their conference regular season or tournament title, Duke was given one of the four #1 seeds in the South Region. Duke beat #16 Robert Morris 85-56 in the second round and #8 San Diego State 68-49 in the third round, both in Charlotte. Duke beat #5 Utah 63-57 in the regional semifinal and #2 Gonzaga 66-52 in the regional final Sunday, both in Houston. The Blue Devils are making their 38th Tournament appearance and 16th trip to the Final Four. Duke has 4 national titles, the last in 2010, also the last time the Blue Devils made it to the Final Four. Duke went  15-3 against NCAA Tournament teams this season.

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Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan. The Badgers have a home loss to Duke and road losses to Rutgers and Maryland. The Badgers have won 21 of the last 22 games, including 11 straight. Wisconsin has key home wins over Green Bay, Boise State, Buffalo, Penn State, Purdue, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan State, neutral site wins over UAB, Georgetown and Oklahoma in a tournament in the Bahamas, Michigan, Purdue, and Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament plus road wins over Marquette, Milwaukee, Cal, Northwestern, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State, Minnesota and Ohio State. The Badgers are 21-17-1 ATS and the total is 19-20 this season. Wisconsin was a 5 point underdog to Kentucky and the total was 131.

Duke is coached by Mike Krzyzewski.  Duke has losses at North Carolina State and Notre Dame and at home against  Miami, plus a neutral site loss to Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils have won 16 of their last 17 games.  Duke has neutral site wins over Michigan State in Indianapolis, Temple and Stanford in Brooklyn,  Connecticut in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and NC State in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils have home wins over Army, Toledo, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Clemson, Syracuse, and Wake Forest, along with road wins over Wisconsin, Wake Forest, Louisville, St. John’s, Virginia, Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Duke is 23-14-1 ATS and the total is 19-17 this season. The Blue Devils were 5.5 point favorites against Michigan State and the total was 138.

Wisconsin is outscoring teams 73-58. The Badgers are #12 nationally in points allowed. Wisconsin is shooting 48.2% from the field including 36.4% from 3 point range. The Badgers are #17 nationally in field goal percentage. Wisconsin makes 76.4% of their free throws and is #11 nationally in the category. Opponents are shooting 42.6% from the field and 37.4% from 3 point range. Wisconsin averages 33.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 25.3 per game. The Badgers are #2 nationally in rebounds allowed. Wisconsin averages 12.7 assists, 7.4 turnovers, 4.5 steals and 3.3 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.1 assists, 9.7 turnovers, 4.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per game.

Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky averages 18.7 points, 8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. He was named the AP Player of the Year on Friday. Sam Dekker averages 13.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. Nigel Hayes averages 12.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Guard Traevon Jackson averages 8.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Jackson returned against North Carolina after missing the previous 19 game with a foot injury. Bronson Koenig averages 8.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game Josh Gasser averages 6.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Duje Dukan and Vitto Brown will also get minutes in the rotation.

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Duke is outscoring teams 80-64 this season. Duke is #5 in scoring nationally. The Blue Devils are shooting 50.2% from the field including 39% from 3 point range. Duke is #3 nationally in field goal percentage and #25 in 3 point shooting. The Blue Devils make 69.5% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 42.3% from the field and 31.2% from 3 point range. Duke is #40 nationally in 3 point defense. The Blue Devils average 36.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.8 per game. Duke averages 15.8 assists, 8.7 turnovers, 7.4 steals and 3.8 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.8 assists, 10.3 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 3.2 blocks per game.

Duke forward Jahlil Okafor averages 17.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. Okafor has been projected by many as a top five pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Guard Quinn Cook averages 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1 steal per game. Justise Winslow averages 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 12.3 turnovers per game. Tyus Jones averages 11.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Amile Jefferson averages 6.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Rasheed Sulaimon averages 7.5 points, 2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He was kicked off the team for violating team rules. Matt Jones, Semi Ojeleye, Greyson Allen and Marshall Plumlee will also get minutes in the rotation.

Wisconsin is 14-3 ATS against ACC teams, 7-2-1 in NCAA Tournament games, 15-5-1 in neutral site games, 5-2 after a straight up win against teams with winning records and overall, and 45-22-1 in non-conference games.

Duke is 7-0 ATS in non-conference games, 5-0 in NCAA Tournament games, overall, in neutral site games, against teams with winning records, and against Big ten teams,    4-0 after a win and a cover, and 3-13-1 in Monday games.

This should be a great game with two teams with contrasting styles. The BAdgers are one of the best defensive teams in the country and Duke is one of the top scoring teams. Some are saying Wisconsin might be in for a let down after upsetting Kentucky, but I don’t buy it. I don’t think Duke will shoot 65% from the field like they did in the earlier meeting. I think Wisconsin pulls out a close win to win their first national title in 74 years.

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