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Big Ten in NCAA Basketball Final Four Preview: Wisconsin should beat Kentucky

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The Wisconsin Badgers will be the second Big Ten team in two years to play for the national championship after they beat the Kentucky Wildcats in the Final Four nightcap

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Last year it was Michigan playing the Louisville Cardinals for the title. The Badgers are more than capable of winning tonight.

Wisconsin (30-7) and the No. 2 seed in the West beat No. 1 seed Arizona, 64-63, in overtime in the regional final. Kentucky (28-10) and the No. 8 seed in the Midwest beat No. 2 seed Michigan, 75-72, in their regional final.

You could look at this game as the everymen of Wisconsin versus the showmen of Kentucky. Badgers coach Bo Ryan recruits hard-working and disciplined basketball players, while Wildcats coach John Calipari recruits McDonald’s All-Americans. Calipari enjoys explaining his “succeed and proceed” and “one and done” philosophies to the media, while Ryan is more likely to spend his time away from the court enjoying a good meal and working a crossword puzzle.

The Badgers also have something – a high-scoring 7-foot forward - that Michigan didn’t have when the Wolverines lost in the final seconds to Kentucky. We are talking about junior Frank Kaminsky and, like several Big Ten forwards, he can score from 2 to 30 feet from the basket.

Wisconsin runs a swing, half-court offense that works for the best high percentage shot. It sounds time-consuming but in the hands of the Badgers, it can take as little as five seconds to find the open man who nails a two or three-point basket.

Kaminsky has a 14.1 points per game (PPG) average. Senior guard Ben Brust and sophomore forward Sam Decker average 12.8 and 12.4 PPG respectively. junior guard Traevon Jackson is the fourth Wisconsin player with a double-digit scoring average at 10.7 PPG..

Kentucky (28-10) plays their own form of an up-tempo game with shots coming from practically anywhere. Like Wisconsin, the Wildcats have four players who average in double digits in scoring.

Freshman forward Julius Randle leads the team in scoring with a 15.1 PPG average. Freshman swingman James Young and freshman guard Aaron Harrison are both averaging 14.1 PPG. Aaron's brother, Andrew, is scoring at a 11.1 PPG pace.

It should be a close game but look for Wisconsin to use its experience and well-disciplined style of play to narrowly beat Kentucky.