All year long, all the talk about Kentucky has been about how dominant they are, how long they are, how hard it is to score against them.
We've been kind of quiet about it, because frankly we thought that Duke and Kentucky had a strong chance of meeting in the Final Four, and who wants to stir up a hornet's nest?
Oh yeah, West Virginia. Well, you see how that worked out.
But we've hinted and implied for some time now that we didn't think Kentucky was all of that. And at the end, we saw Kentucky's players - and coach - look scared, frustrated and uncertain. We saw Trey Lyles slap Wisconsin's Josh Gasser in the face - he had to reach across his body with his left hand to do it, so we still don't understand how it was reviewed and not called. We saw John Calipari looking scared and joyless on the bench as his bid for immortality slipped out of his grasp.
For the second straight game, we saw a physically inferior team take it right to Kentucky on the boards. And we saw what happened when the steamrolling, the soaring dunks and the intimidation didn't work.
We saw Wisconsin, basically, had more courage and heart than Kentucky. You can spin it anyway you want to, but that's the heart of it. And we might add that dominating the SEC these days is not that much harder than dominating the Missouri Valley Conference.
In other words, it didn't do much to prepare Kentucky for a team like Wisconsin. For all its remarkable talent, UK didn't get pushed much and that caught up to them in the end.
We're sure CBS is disappointed. No doubt the Eye wanted Duke-Kentucky, and it would've been huge.
We're sure Coach K saw the same things we did - God knows if we could see it any competent professional could - and had a plan for how to attack the Wildcats.
Too bad he won't be able to use it, because frankly, Wisconsin might be a bigger challenge.
Of course Duke beat Wisconsin earlier this year in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, but you can mark that down for a few reasons, first of all because Sam Dekker wasn't healthy (foot), second because Duke won' t be able to simply switch every time on Wisconsin again, and third because that team is experienced, composed and playing brilliant basketball.
Working in Duke's favor is something we noticed in the 1991 Final Four and which we've talked about a bit recently as well.
Quite simply, it's extremely difficult to top your best game, and the win over Kentucky is likely to be Wisconsin's best win for years.
Of course, in 1991, Duke followed up a now legendary upset of UNLV with a win over Kansas, but Duke's level of play was never as high Monday as it had been Saturday. it was good enough to win, but in 1991, Ol' Roy Williams had really just gotten started. His program was not what it would become.
So certainly Wisconsin can beat Duke; the Badgers will likely be favored. This team is like a more talented Butler. Wisconsin will not implode like Kentucky did. You have to beat them.
As we said above, you can't get a lot out of the earlier matchup, not least of all because Dekker didn't play anywhere near his normal level.
What about Duke, though?
Well, the first difference is no Rasheed Sulaimon (or Semi Ojeleye either). Sulaimon shot 5-8 and had 14 points in 21 minutes.
More importantly, though Duke shot 65% in Madison, the defense was not what it has become.
Start in Greensboro: NC State shot 35% and only scored 53 points. Robert Morris shot 36.4% and scored 56. San Diego State? 49 points,32.8%. Utah? 57 points, 35%. Gonzaga? 52 points, 44%. And Michigan State? 61 points and 40%.
We left Notre Dame out for obvious reasons, but losing to the Irish taught Duke a timely lesson.
As much as Duke will see a different Wisconsin (and among other things, Traevon Jackson, who has just returned from a fairly serious injury, hit for 25 against Duke. It's hard to imagine him doing that after just three games back), the Badgers will see a much better Duke.
Wisconsin is hugely impressive and the upset win over Kentucky, like Duke's upset over UNLV in 1991, vaults them into a different category.
But when all that is said and done, you still have to win the last game. There's no doubt that Wisconsin can do that; we're equally sure that Duke can, too. All we can tell you is that whatever happens, it won't be like the earlier contest.
As they say, that's why they play the games.