It’s the end of the road for Wisconsin and Duke, the last two teams standing from a field of 68 contenders for the DI men’s basketball championship.
The Blue Devils have four national titles (2010, 2001, 1992, 1991) and have lost in the final six times (1999, 1994, 1990, 1986, 1978, 1964).
The Badgers are 1-0 in the national championship game. Wisconsin won the title in 1941, defeating Washington State 39-34 in the lowest scoring title game.
Here are five random facts about Wisconsin and Duke in the teams’ championship history:
• Vic Bubas led Duke to its first title game. He was the Blue Devils’ coach for 10 seasons (1959-69) and finished 213-67. Duke lost the 1964 championship game to UCLA, the first of John Wooden’s record 10 titles. The Bruins went on to win nine championships in the next 11 years.
Bubas retired after the 1968-69 season and became an administrator at the university. He later was tabbed the first commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference. Bubas was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.
Widely regarded as the original recruiter, Bubas’ two most memorable signees were Art Heyman, the 1963 national player of the year, and Jeff Mullins, the 1964 ACC player of the year and the NCAA tournament’s leading scorer.
• The 1940-41 season was the high-water mark for Wisconsin basketball for decades. The Badgers were 20-3 in their championship season; the previous three seasons combined the team had won only 25 games. Wisconsin would not win 20 games in a season again until 1998-99 and did not return to the Final Four until 2000.
Coach Harold “Bud” Foster, a former UW player, led the program for 25 seasons (1934-59) and made just two NCAA tournament appearances. He posted a 265-267 record, which were the most wins and losses in program history at the time. (Bo Ryan surpassed Foster’s win total in 2012.)
Foster played under Walter “Doc” Meanwell at Wisconsin, which went 43-8 during Foster’s career (1927-30). He was a member of the inaugural College Basketball Hall of Fame class in 2006.
• Duke has been to the national championship game 11 times – 10 under Mike Krzyzewski, who has been coaching the Blue Devils since the 1980-81 season. Entering the 2015 title game, Coach K holds the game’s mark for all-time wins (1,017), including 944 at Duke.
The Blue Devils first NCAA tournament appearance was in 1955. Villanova defeated Duke 74-73 in the first round of the East region. However, the program’s current success can be traced back to the foundation set by coach Bill Foster, who led Duke to three consecutive NCAA tournaments (1978-80) before leaving to become the head coach at South Carolina.
Under Krzyzewski, Duke has been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament 13 times in 31 years; the Blue Devils did not make the tournament in 1995, when Coach K stepped aside in January to completely heal from a back surgery in October 1994.
• Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is no stranger to championship games. He won the Division III title four times during his tenure at Wisconsin-Platteville, including the 1990-91 season, the Pioneer’s first year as an NCAA program.
Ryan became the Badgers’ coach in 2001, succeeding interim coach Brad Soderberg, who had taken over for Dick Bennett after three games in the 2000-01 season.Ryan previously has served as a Wisconsin assistant (1976-84). He was on Bill Cofield’s maiden staff in 1976; Cofield was the first black head coach of a major sport in the Big Ten, hired by the legendary Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch. Larry Reed and Todd Landrum were the other two assistants with Ryan.
Cofield resigned in 1982. The Badgers’ final loss was a 77-75 thriller against Ohio State. The player who hit the 16-foot game-winning jumper for the Buckeyes: Clark Kellogg, who is part of the Final Four announcing team in Indianapolis.
Cofield died of cancer on June 20, 1983.
• So, who ya got: Duke or Wisconsin? If the Blue Devils win, we’ll have our first four-loss national champion since North Carolina in 2009. If the Badgers win, we’ll have our first three-loss national champion since Kansas in 2008.
|Wisconsin (36-3) vs. Duke (34-4)|
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