On March 25, when the NCAA Tournament had been reduced to 16 teams, Kentucky, Arizona, Duke and Michigan State were the favorites to reach the 2015 Final Four. That forecast nearly came to fruition, but Wisconsin, then a close second pick to Arizona to win the West Region, changed the picture slightly. The field is now set with the Badgers joining the other three squads instead of Sean Miller’s Wildcats. Kentucky, though, remains the favorite to win the National Championship, drawing -140 college basketball odds to emerge victorious on Monday night.
My early 2015 NCAA Bracket Predictions were also nearly perfect, but Michigan State upset my apple cart, emerging from the East instead of second seeded Virginia. I was correct in picking Wisconsin, Duke and Kentucky, but at that juncture I had not picked a national champion. I will do that now, though.
It is my opinion that Kentucky and Wisconsin are the two best teams in the country, in spite of Duke’s win over the Badgers earlier in the season, but they will, obviously, not battle for the national championship, hence the Badgers being a third choice, at +375 odds, to win it all.
I, though, am going to go out on a limb and take Wisconsin over Kentucky as well as the winner of the Duke/Michigan State game, which, by the way, I think will be the Blue Devils.
The Badgers have the size and talent to deal with Kentucky and, like Notre Dame, their diversity on the offensive end of the floor is strong enough to present the Wildcats lock down defense with some problems. Enough problems to, as I am predicting, beat them.
That, if I am correct, puts Wisconsin in a rematch with Duke, a team that beat them 80-70 in Madison on December 3. The Badgers shot just 40 percent in the loss while a number of their big playmakers played rather miserably.
Sam Dekker, Nigel Hayes, Josh Gasser and Bronson Koenig combined for 19 points in the setback. That, quite simply, will not happen if the two teams meet again on Monday night. At least that’s how I see it. At +375 odds, I hope I’m right.
Kentucky Wildcats -140
Duke Blue Devils +325
Wisconsin Badgers +375
Michigan State Spartans +750