INDIANAPOLIS -- It's hard to determine which Sam Dekker play was better. Was it the and-1 near the rim early in the second half to put the Badgers up five, when he flexed to the crowd, or was it the step-back three to put Wisconsin up for good with 1:44 left?
The latter will be remembered the most, given the timing, but when you put both together, it gives you a glimpse into just how good Dekker, and Wisconsin's offense, were in the Badgers' 71-64 win at Lucas Oil Stadium, and throughout this season.
Kentucky coach John Calipari couldn't even believe it.
"I mean, they out-rebounded us by 12 rebounds," Calipari said. "That doesn't happen. You think about this. We had six turnovers for the game. We shot 90 percent from the free-throw line, 60 percent from the three, and 48 percent from the field, and we lost?"
Calipari is right — that doesn't happen against Kentucky, and it never has this season. The only way the Wildcats were going to lose playing like that was if they ran into a team that could overcome their other-worldly defense. And while Wisconsin might not be the clear-cut best team in the country, the Badgers' offense is perhaps even more other-worldly than the Wildcats' defense.
At one point in the second half, Wisconsin was scoring 1.42 points per possession. The Badgers ended with 1.23 PPP against what was previously the best defense of the KenPom era. They had an effective field goal percentage of 54 percent and rebounded 43 percent of their misses against Kentucky's seven-foot duo of Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns.
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But that's nothing new for Wisconsin, which at 1.28 PPP is far better than last year's Michigan team, whose 1.24 PPP was previously the best of the KenPom era.
All of this is a fancy way of saying that Wisconsin probably has the best offense of all time. While the Badgers supposedly ran into a 38-0 buzzsaw, they achieved heights that likely won't be topped for a long time — and now they're 40 minutes away from a national title.
In a season when college basketball has been much-maligned for being unwatchable, Wisconsin put on a beautiful offensive display. The Badgers play a slow style — they're the 345th fastest team in the country out of 351 — but it doesn't seem that way, because the offense is so fluid and the shots actually go in. They pass it well, they shoot it well, they drive it well and they don't foul, and on Saturday, they completely flummoxed a Kentucky defense that had no idea what it was getting into.
The Wildcats consistently left Wisconsin big men open from beyond the arc, because typically, those are bad shots. But that's not true of Frank Kaminsky or Dekker, who have both shown off impressive range this postseason and throughout the year. Despite Calipari's screams to close out on the Wisconsin shooters, which led to his shirt coming untucked underneath his suit, they were never effective in doing so. And it wasn't just the threes — Wisconsin was able to drive the lane and post up with relative ease, due in part to the freakish athleticism that got Kentucky to near-untouchable status.
It was an unexpected role reversal, but one that shouldn't have been incredibly surprising, given just how good Wisconsin has been this season.
A majority of the fans who showed up to Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend expected to see history in the form of 40-0. But while that dream ends, those in attendance still got treated to a performance of historic proportions, and to an offense that's better than any they've ever seen.