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Rothstein: X-Factors To Watch In Duke-Wisconsin Championship Game

By Jon Rothstein

Duke vs. Wisconsin: These two teams played in December at the Kohl Center and the Blue Devils were near flawless from tip to finish en route to an impressive 10-point win on the road. Duke starts three freshmen - Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, and Jahlil Okafor - and in a lot of ways represents the new wave of college basketball.

The Blue Devils have young talent that’s ready to bolt for the NBA in a year or so, while Wisconsin’s personnel has withstood the test of time. Frank Kaminsky averaged 4.3 points two years ago and is now the national player of the year. Sam Dekker was regularly chastised for his defense as a freshman and now he’s a bonafide star as a junior. Nigel Hayes didn’t attempt a single three-point shot last season as a freshman and now is shooting close to 40.0 percent from distance. You get the idea.

These are two teams with two different makeups and that should make for one heck of a finish to the college basketball season on Monday night.

The X-Factor in this game? It has to be Hayes. When he’s made big plays, Bo Ryan’s squad has gone to a different level.

One important thing to watch for Duke? The Blue Devils’ guards - Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook - rarely turn the ball over and are essentially a security blanket. The duo has only one turnover combined in their last two games.

Best individual matchup: Jahlil Okafor vs. Frank Kaminsky.

Underrated matchup: Sam Dekker vs. Justise Winslow.

Don’t be surprised if: Grayson Allen gives Duke another big lift off the bench.


Jon Rothstein is a college basketball insider for CBS Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JonRothstein.

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