December 02, 2014

(AP) - Jahlil Okafor vs. Frank Kaminsky.

The big-man matchup Wednesday night between No. 4 Duke and No. 2 Wisconsin in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge is about as good as it gets for college basketball in December.

Badgers forward Duje Dukan offered a reminder that there will be eight other players on the court at the same time along with two of the game's top players.

"We look at is as Wisconsin vs. Duke. It might happen that they do get matched up on a majority of plays, but at the end of the day it's our five against their five," Dukan said.

True enough. Yet there's no denying the star power and contrasting styles that will be on display at the Kohl Center when these 7-0 teams get together.

The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Okafor is Duke's latest likely one-and-done sensation, a freshman from Chicago who already has NBA scouts drooling. Wisconsin coaches seem to be especially impressed with Okafor's hands and his ability to maneuver in the post.

"He doesn't rush. He takes his time. He makes the right decision ... He's impressive at any age, but being a freshman stands out," assistant coach Gary Close said.

Kaminsky might play the exact opposite style. Wisconsin's senior is a lithe 7-footer with an inside-out game that makes him a matchup nightmare. No McDonald's All-American here. Just a hard-working player who keeps getting better after exploding on to the college basketball scene last season.

There is one big similarity between Okafor and Kaminsky: they are preseason All-Americans.

"This game isn't about me," Kaminsky said. "I really don't care what happens with me in the game as long as we win."

That was certainly the case in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas last week. Kaminsky was 1 for 8 in the second game and limited to 6 minutes in the first half in Friday's final because of foul trouble before scoring 14 of his 17 points in the second half in a 69-56 win over Oklahoma to take tournament MVP honors.

Coach Bo Ryan said Kaminsky, who is averaging team highs of 16.6 points and 8.7 rebounds, is playing with a lot of confidence. He also joked that Kaminsky was "another one of those guys in the long list of basketball players who commits a foul and looks like he's never committed a foul in his life."

Wisconsin has a deep frontcourt, even with forward Sam Dekker watching a portion of Monday's practice open to media from the bench. He wore a commemorative "Final Four" T-shirt from last year's NCAA run over his jersey.

Dekker, who was resting a tender left ankle he injured in the preseason, said he should be fine for the Duke game. Playing three games in three days in the Bahamas took a little toll.

Sophomore Nigel Hayes has added the 3-point shot to his arsenal, while the 6-10 Dukan played well off the bench in the Bahamas. He is averaging 8.4 points in helping to spell Dekker.

Dukan, a senior, said he grew up a Duke fan, starting with the Blue Devils' 1999 run to the national championship game. He is looking forward to playing in what should be a tournament-like atmosphere in Madison.

"It's going to be a packed house," Dukan said. "This is something when you're a kid you dream of, playing against teams like Duke."

The Blue Devils are coming off Sunday's 93-73 victory over Army, bringing coach Mike Krzyzewski within 10 wins of 1,000 for his career.

Okafor had 21 points after setting a career high with 24 in a 93-54 win over Furman last Wednesday. He's made 20 of 28 shots over the last two games and is shooting 63.6 percent overall.

"I feel confident, I really feel confident with my teammates around me," Okafor said. "We're all looking forward to going down to Wisconsin and battle and compete with them."

Duke is the winningest team in ACC/Big Ten Challenge history with a 13-2 record. The Blue Devils won their first 10 matchups in the event before Wisconsin snapped that streak with a 73-69 home victory in the last meeting Dec. 2, 2009.

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