Madison, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - The marquee matchup on Wednesday's docket takes place in the Kohl Center, as fourth-ranked Duke takes on second-ranked Wisconsin as part of the 2014 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils have lived up to the considerable hype poured on them to start the season. Duke is off to a 7-0 start, including capturing the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic title and posting a win over powerhouse Michigan State (81-71) as part of the Champions Classic. More recently, the Blue Devils dispatched the previously unbeaten Army Black Knights, 93-73. The win improved the nation's longest non-conference home win streak to a staggering 113 straight games.
Bo Ryan's Badgers haven't disappointed either this season, as they sport an identical 7-0 mark coming into this game. Wisconsin returns home after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament knocking off UAB (72-43), Georgetown (68-65) and Oklahoma (69-56) in succession. The Badgers are off to a 7-0 start for the second straight season, opening up last year at 16-0. The team has now won 24 straight regular season, non-conference games.
These two teams have met just twice, with each winning on its home floor as part of this event.
The Blue Devils have some youngsters in the lineup (three freshmen in the starting rotation), but that hasn't stopped the team from dominating at both ends of the floor thus far. Duke is enjoying a gaudy +31.3 scoring margin, averaging 90.4 ppg, while allowing just 59.1. The team is shooting an impressive .527 from the floor and is living comfortably in terms of rebounding (+9.9) and turnover (+5.7) margins. Freshman center Jahlil Okafor came in as the nation's top recruit and has done nothing to suggest otherwise, as the 7-footer is shooting .636 from the field, while averaging 17.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Senior guard Quinn Cook pours in 15.6 ppg, while freshman forward Justise Winslow adds 13.0 ppg. Junior forward Amile Jefferson (9.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg) and freshman point guard Tyus Jones (8.9 ppg, 6.0 apg) round out the starting five.
Coach K led his team against his alma mater last time out and Duke made light work of Army in a 20-point rout. Okafor was once again dominant in the middle, posting a game-high 21 points to go with eight rebounds. Jones was lethal at the point, registering a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists. Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon added 13 points apiece, while Jefferson (7 pts), grabbed a game-high 12 boards. Duke held a huge advantage in rebounding (43-25) and forced the Black Knights into 14 turnovers.
It may not be as impressive as Duke's, but Wisconsin is still getting it done at a high level at both ends, sporting a +24.0 scoring margin heading into this contest. The Badgers are shooting the ball at a .505 clip and putting up 74.6 ppg, while holding foes to a meager 50.6 ppg and well under 40 percent shooting (.371). The team has also taken very good care of the basketball, averaging under 10 turnovers per game (9.3). One of the premier players in the country, senior Frank Kaminsky has shown his complete game. He is shooting .563 from the floor overall and putting up 16.6 ppg, but the 7-footer's range is what separates him from most players. Kaminsky can dominate inside as evidenced by his 8.7 rpg and team-best 16 blocks, but he can also extend defenses by shooting .407 from behind the arc (11-of-27). Kaminsky gets offensive support from both Nigel Hayes and (13.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Sam Dekker (12.7 ppg).
The Badgers had a tough matchup with a talented Oklahoma squad last time out and managed to earn the win by turning up the heat defensively in the second half. The Sooners were within one point at intermission (34-33), but were held to a poor .292 shooting effort over the final 20 minutes, as Wisconsin ran away with the game and the tournament crown. Kaminsky was named the tournament MVP and scored a game-high 17 points against Oklahoma. Four other Badgers managed double figures as well. Traevon Jackson and Duje Dukan added 13 points each to the cause, while Dekker and Hayes finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.