How much Duke and Wisconsin can glean from their matchup in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge back in December may be negligible.
Some tendencies and stylistic traits may be similar, but consider the personnel. In that meeting in Madison — an 80-70 Duke win — two of the top scorers in the game may not be impact players in Monday night’s national championship game.
Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon certainly won’t be. He scored 14 points against Wisconsin earlier this season but was dismissed from the team in January. Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson scored a game-high 25 points. He missed more than two months with a foot injury and has played only 28 minutes in the NCAA Tournament.
Meanwhile, Justise Winslow and Sam Dekker scored five points apiece in that meeting, and now they’ll be two of the best players on the court Monday night.
Who are the best of the best? We’ll try to take a look, obviously tilting toward each player's college production and performance in this NCAA Tournament.
1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
The National Player of the Year contender is coming off a 29-point performance against Arizona and a 20-point performancea gainst Kentucky. He scored 17 points on Duke back in December.
2. Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Okafor had his most ineffective two-game stretch of the season in the regional against Utah and Gonzaga but bounced back with 18 points against Michigan State in teh Final Four. Okafor has spent most of the season as the presumptive No. 1 overall draft pick with good reason. His matchup with Kaminsky in the title game will be a classic.
3. Justise Winslow, Duke
Winslow has spent most of the season splitting headlines with Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones. In the NCAA Tournament, though, Winslow has been Duke’s best player in the regional. Winslow is averaging 15 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and better than 1.4 steals and blocks per game in the last five games.
4. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
The junior had the best games of his career in the West regional against North Carolina and Arizona, twice setting career highs with 23 and 24 points. He had only six career 20-point games entering this Tournament, but he’s averaging 20.6 points in the last five games.
5. Tyus Jones, Duke
Jones has been the playmaker in the Tournament he was all season. He’s averaging 11 points and 5.2 assists in the last five games, while playing his most efficient basketball all of the year (3.7 assists per turnover).
6. Quinn Cook, Duke
The emotional and senior leader for Duke, Cook is averaging a career-high (by far) 15.6 points per game this season.
7. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
8. Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin
Koenig averaged 11.6 points per game after starting point guard Traevon Jackson was hurt in January. He averaged 4.9 points per game before then.
9. Josh Gasser, Wisconsin
Gasser has scored in double figures once since Feb. 3, but he’s a glue guy who gives the Badgers a little bit of everything.
10. Matt Jones, Duke
Jones has moved into the starting lineup after the dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon. He’s a complementary player, but he’s proven he can hit the big 3 when necessary (4-of-7 from 3 against Gonzaga).