2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament: What We Learned from the Second Weekend


Alright everyone. It’s time to take a deep breath, get seated, and get back to normal life for the week. The second weekend of the 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament provided some VERY interesting moments. However, now that the Final Four in Indianapolis, Indiana is set, it is time to take a look back before taking a look ahead. Next weekend, the 1-seeded Kentucky Wildcats will take on the 1-seeded Wisconsin Badgers while the 1-seeded Duke Blue Devils will take on the 7-seeded Michigan State.

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Kentucky Wildcats

Let’s start with the Kentucky Wildcats. This past weekend, we saw both the best and the worst from one of the all-time best teams in college basketball. Let’s start with the Sweet 16 games. When a team smack talks the entire week leading up to the game, it is advisable to not show up to the game. West Virginia did and consequently got completely smacked. Kentucky came out with a furry and poured it on with a vengeance. By halftime, the score was 44-18. The Wildcats could not have scored and won the game by five points. Needless to say, Kentucky didn’t stop and ended up winning by 39 points, which was tied for the largest margin of victory in the Sweet 16 and the 39 points by West Virginia was the least scored by a team in the Sweet 16.

Everything that the Sweet 16 was, the Elite 8 wasn’t. The Kentucky Wildcats could do nothing to stop the Notre Dame Fighting Irish offense for much of the game. Getting backdoor cuts and drives to the baskets, the Fighting Irish held the lead from the 15 minute mark in the second half on. That is, until the Kentucky Wildcats showed their will to win in, ending with Aaron hitting a clutch three and Andrew hitting two free throws to walk away with the Final Four birth. The thing we learned about the Kentucky Wildcats above all else is that their will to win is too strong to be beat. It’s going to take something special effort to beat this team.

Wisconsin Badgers

The Badgers showed us what they have all year long. Their blue-collar play lead to two VERY good victories on the second weekend, enabling them to punch their ticket to the Final Four. The biggest thing learned for the Badgers was the Sam Dekker, who helped in a HUGE way to compliment Frank Kaminsky. In the two games this weekend, the big man averaged 25 points and 7.5 rebounds. While he still isn’t better than Frank Kaminsky, he is most assuredly a valuable asset to the Badgers run thus far in the tournament and will be key to continuing their run past the Kentucky Wildcats.

Duke Blue Devils

Once again, Coack K and the Blue Devils found a way to make it back to the Final Four. After a few years of being the victim of early round upsets, Duke is back in the Final Four. The effort was put on by the team, showing America that they were one of the best teams left in the tournament. In fact, they might be the only team left in the tournament that could beat Kentucky. With the talent and depth that they do, they were able to run through the second weekend of the tournament and showed that their true strength lies in the team effort. That is the key takeaway from this team, as their talent will carry them as long as they are the more talented team.

Michigan State Spartans

YOU. CAN. NOT. COUNT. OUT. TOM. IZZO. IN. MARCH. Repeat that a couple times, because it is one of the most true statements to ever be said. This team might have been a tad underseeded, but they were by no means good enough to get to the Final Four on their own. In order for a team built like the Spartans to make it to the Final Four this year, a HUGE coaching effort would have to take place. And with Tom Izzo, they got the perfect coach to do just that. The takeaway here? Do NOT count out Tom Izzo in March. He is a great coach and he WILL carry his team as far as he can each and every March.

What’s Next?

Next up is the Final Four. Looking at the matchups, the bracket makers could not have hoped for a better final weekend. Duke and Michigan State should provided for a heck of a matchup, as the talent of Duke matches up very well with the well-coached Spartans team. On paper, it should be a blow out, but don’t expect that to be the case. As a Wildcat fan, we should hope for Michigan State to win. However, this will most likely not be the case, as Duke is simply too talented to lose this game. Look for the Blue Devils and Coach K to get to the title game, setting up the first part of a great title game.

Now for the matchup we all care about. The Kentucky Wildcats and the Wisconsin Badgers make for a GREAT matchup on paper. They have the work ethic and big men down low to make it a great game. This should worry Kentucky fans, as Kaminsky and Dekker will give us a lot of trouble. If Notre Dame gave us trouble down low, then Wisconsin might beat us. That is, if they can stop us. After last nights game, I’m not sure that the offense will miss that many shots again. Not to mention that the Kentucky Wildcats will play MUCH better defense after a little urging by Calipari. Look for Kentucky to win this game in another closely contested matchup to make it to the title game.

The title game will be a battle of the blue bloods. With Kentucky facing Duke, the national ratings will be off the charts. Both teams are highly talented, but one key factor tips in favor of the Kentucky Wildcats. That is their depth, which should be more than Duke could handle. Top that with their will to win games in any manner necessary, and this game should tilt the table in favor of the Kentucky Wildcats, toping off the 40-0 season and their rightful place in college basketball history.

Next: Kentucky Wildcats are Headed to Indy

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