Here are five observations about Wisconsin:
Wisconsin lost to Duke on Dec. 3. In that 80-70 loss, Duke controlled the game in the final minutes. The Blue Devils did that again. Tyus Jones attacked and hit big shots. Grayson Allen hit big shots. Jahlil Okafor, who wasn't special most of the night, made a couple of big buckets in the final minutes. Wisconsin had kept the game tight. So tight. A second-half run appeared to be the rally that would ruin Duke's dreams. But the Blue Devils have too much confidence, talent, depth and great coaching to just quit. They showed some heart, and the Badgers couldn't find the rim in clutch time.
He's only a sophomore, but Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes has the maturity of a senior. Sure, he was the goofy guy throughout the NCAA tournament, the one who flirted with stenographers and also made their lives miserable. But he's also been a critical contributor throughout the tournament. Duke shot 50 percent from the field in the first half. Hayes, who struggled in the first matchup between these two teams (1-for-5), went 3-for-6 in the first half and scored eight points. He hit both free throws before halftime, too. He finished with 13 points.
Throughout the NCAA tournament, and especially in its last three games, Wisconsin had torched opponents in the second half. North Carolina, Arizona and Kentucky had jousted with the Badgers in the first chapter, but Wisconsin always pulled away. After entering halftime in a 31-31 tie, Wisconsin kicked off the second half with a 17-8 run that gave the Badgers a 48-39 edge. It seemed like they'd put the Blue Devils in a hole they wouldn't get out of. But Duke is strong.
With 12:33 to play, and Wisconsin up 48-42 over Duke, Traevon Jackson committed a turnover and then picked up the foul on Grayson Allen as he tried to grab a loose ball. Jackson began the game with a 1-for-7 clip. Jackson has been a leader for the program. He has helped the Badgers win some big games. But he struggled on Monday.
The Badgers weren't ready for ... Grayson Allen. Who was? Yes, he's a McDonald's All-American, one of nine on the Duke roster. But he wasn't supposed to be Batman. He wasn't supposed to be Robin. But Mike Krzyzewski told his guards to attack in the second half, and they did. Allen in isolation situations made the difference in the second half. He had six points before halftime. He had 10 more in the first 18 minutes of the second half. Wisconsin didn't have an answer for him in iso situations. He either scored on the drive or a drew a foul.