When the Wisconsin Badgers lost at home to the Duke Blue Devils this past Decemeber, no one looked at Vitto Brown afterwards and blamed him for what had happened.
Should Wisconsin fall tonight, while we might have the opportunity, likely no one will be shooting sarcasm or criticism Brown’s way, either.
But in what might be the most important and scrutinized matchup of the night between Jahlil Okafor and Frank Kaminsky, the hidden trump card Wisconsin holds might be Vitto Brown and his five fouls he’ll have at his disposal this evening.
There is no doubting the fact Kentucky struggled getting the ball inside against Kaminsky and the interior of the Wisconsin defense.
Scrutiny continues days after the Badgers defeat of the Wildcats and it mainly points at John Calipari’s admission that his team struggled with the execution down the stretch.
Point guard Aaron Harrison told reporters after the game Saturday that he didn’t exactly do what was asked of him, primarily when Calipari asked him to post the ball during the final five minutes.
Now, let’s not forget about a couple of guys who had a big role in UW’s tourney success so far, and who might have something to say about Wisconsin’s success against Duke, tonight.
Junior Sam Dekker is averaging 20.6 points per game during the NCAA tournament, including 16 points vs. Kentucky. He is shooting 61.3% in the tourney and has hit 15 of 30 (.500) from 3-point range.
Underneath, Frank Kaminsky has been just as impressive.
Kaminsky is averaging a tournament-high 22.2 ppg during the Big Dance and shooting 53.6% from the field. He has hit 6-of-11 3FGs and 31-of-36 FTs while averaging 8.8 boards per game.
Looking back to what many think Duke must do tonight in order to be successful, Kaminsky could be a target, defensively.
The National Player of The Year has played all but 13 of a possible 200 minutes throughout the 2015 NCAA tourney, though his durability has never come into question.
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Should Okafor prove to superior on the low block, his 51.3 percent free throw percentage could be Wisconsin’s asset throughout the game if they can’t stop the freshman phenom.
With that, Brown comes into the picture as the likely candidate to stand between Okafor and the basket.
With Kaminsky still on the floor, he’ll become more flexible then be able to free up on the weak side, and help defend instead of primarily exhausting himself one-on-one with the top post player Duke showcases.
How the game is officiated tonight will have a big role on the outcome.
With Wisconsin being one of the best in-your-face defensive teams, who’s known for their on-the-ball defense and ability to move their feet, stay vertical and defend, they will thrive in the instance of a physical game.
Should the zebras decide to grab control of the contact early, it could spell problems for Wisconsin, who routinely goes only eight deep with their bench.
On the flip side, Wisconsin has thrived so far this post season late in games, largely on the backs of Kaminsky, Dekker and Nigel Hayes.
Should foul trouble hit any of those three, and render them helpless in the final 5 minutes, it will have a huge effect on the outcome and which team carries the National Championship trophy out of Lucas Oil Stadium.