I did not get what I wanted for Monday night.
Even though I live in the heart of Big 10 Conference Country, I will fully admit I desired Kentucky vs. Duke on the grandest stage of basketball – Monday night.
I craved all the history and the storylines which would have made Monday Night oh so special.
I wanted to go on StubHub and other ticket exchanges and see tickets in the 600 levels of Lucas Oil Stadium going for $1,000. I wanted CBS to crush the viewership rating with about 25 million maybe even 30 million viewers for what would have been the most-watched NCAA Championship game since Bird vs. Magic in 1979. For Indianapolis, I wanted 73,000 people in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium (LOS) to say they saw history made or thwarted on Monday night.
I needed the undefeated team (Kentucky) against the coach (Coach K), who seems unbeatable in Indianapolis in April.
Now I get a rematch from the made-for-TV ACC/Big 10 Challenge back in December of this season Duke vs. Wisconsin. ESPN Sports Business Reporter, Darren Rovell, tweeted he believed if Wisconsin won Saturday night the ticket prices could drop to as low as $15. Instead of all-time viewership to possibly witness history, CBS will still get a strong rating with a viewership of around 22 million. There will still probably be close to 70,000 in LOS because it’s the national championship game, but it won’t be completely crammed to the rafters.
The difference between all the other close games the previously unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats had faced compared to this one – the Wildcats found ways to win in the former ones. They didn’t find a way to win Saturday night.
Kentucky was up 60-56 and looking for the close out. The Wildcats went to a 1-4 flat set with the Harrisons driving to the basket. Wisconsin did what the Badgers do as they shut it down with solid defense and forced the Wildcats into bad shots which turned into turnovers with shot clock violations.
After each stop, Wisconsin went to the other end of the court, worked the ball around and got key baskets to tie the game. Then Sam Dekker ripped the hearts out of Big Blue Nation with his step-back 3 that gave the Badgers the lead for good.
Another difference between Wisconsin and the other teams, which gave the Wildcats close calls throughout this remarkable, record-setting, 38-game-winning streak, the other teams began to wear down at about the under 8:00 media timeout. Wisconsin didn’t. The Badgers kept taking the shots from Kentucky and answering. Unlike Notre Dame late in the game last Saturday night, Wisconsin finished the Wildcats off to advance to Monday night.
The Badgers now have a short turn around to prepare and get ready for its rematch with Duke. This weekend for Wisconsin seems to be about revenge. The Badgers avenged the loss from last season’s tournament in the national semifinal to Kentucky with the win last night. Now Wisconsin seeks revenge for its lone home loss of the season to Duke on the biggest night of the college basketball season – Monday night.
Don’t get me wrong Duke vs. Wisconsin will still be a great national championship game on Monday night.
It’s just not what we could have had with Duke vs. Kentucky.
Some other not so noteworthy observations:
- Why do ALL the articles I have read today say even if Nigel Hayes’ shot was not a shot-clock violation it was traveling? Once the ball left Hayes’ hand there was no team control. He had every right to grab the rebound and make the putback.
- I turned the volume down on the television and listened to the second half of the Wisconsin-Kentucky game from the Westwood One NCAA Radio Network. Kevin Kugler and Clark Kellogg were a great combination. I think I will do the same for the entire national championship game Monday night.
- It just seemed in 1991, 1997, 2000 and 2006 you could clearly see which of the four teams was going to be the best performing team from Friday’s practices heading into the national semifinal games. You couldn’t this year.
- I still want to know what Bob Ryan and Coach K were discussing during Friday’s practice.
- So much for the excuse of shooting in open background stadiums for the Final Four – Duke shot 52 percent while Kentucky and Wisconsin both shot 48 percent respectively. Michigan State shot 40 percent, but more of that could be credited to the Blue Devils’ defense than the setting.