The 2015 March Madness event came to end as the Duke Blue Devils celebrate winning their fifth National title after defeating Wisconsin Badgers, 68-63, in 2015 NCAA Men’s Division I Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 6, 2015.
The Blue Devils overcame foul trouble in the first half and a nine-point deficit in the second to beat Wisconsin 68-63 late Monday, and that they did it with freshmen scoring 60 of those 68 is the most compelling piece of evidence suggesting that you can teach an old K new tricks.
The beauty of the NCAA tournament is that it creates the unexpected — upsets and heroes and unforgettable moments commingling for a three-week soap opera on the hard court.
But sometimes all of that upheaval robs the NCAA tournament of the best teams. The best team doesn’t always win this thing. The best teams don’t even always play for the title.
“We have eight guys — and four of them are freshmen,” said Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s Hall of Fame coach. “For them to win 35 games — and win the national title — is incredible.”
Led by Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, Duke’s talented group of potential “one-and-doners” played like veterans down the stretch, outscoring Wisconsin by 14 points over the final 13 minutes Monday night to grit out a close victory.
Okafor, the likely first pick in the NBA draft if he decides to leave, got outplayed by Badgers senior center Frank Kaminsky most of the night but came through big when the pressure was highest.
A furious Wisconsin rally ensued, but it came up short. Then, it was Okafor on the bottom of a rowdy dog pile – a scene reminiscent of the last time the Final Four was Indianapolis, back in 2010 when Duke edged out Butler in another scintillating final. The Blue Devils also took one here in 1991 – the Grant Hill, Christian Laettner squad.
On the other hand, Duke´s Coach role is no less than incredible as he knowingly and willingly enrolled 3 likely one-and-done players, meshed them beautifully with a small handful of upperclassmen and led them to a national championship. It was the players’ first and Krzyzewski’s fifth, meaning this 68-year-old icon has …
- won more national titles than everybody other than John Wooden
- won national championships in three different decades
- won a title with three freshmen starters
The only other coach to win a title with three freshmen starters is Kentucky’s John Calipari, who did it in 2012 with Marquise Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis. Calipari developed the so-called blueprint for this era of college basketball. But, at some point, Krzyzewski got his hands on it.
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