CHICAGO — The finish of this year's NCAA Tournament could very well mirror the end of the recruitment of sharpshooting Ohio guard Luke Kennard.
Duke versus Kentucky.
Kennard was long thought to be a shoo-in commitment for the Wildcats, the team he grew up rooting for as a kid. Instead, he chose the Blue Devils last March.
"It was a tough decision," Kennard said from the McDonald's All-American Game this week. "Growing up, I was a big Kentucky fan; my whole family was. But things change once you talk to other coaches and build relationships, and I just kind of connected with (Mike Krzyzewski) and the Duke staff and the players. I really felt like I fit in there. And I'm really excited about going there."
Kennard said most of his family, all longtime UK fans, have "converted" to the Blue Devils. He's looking forward to a possible matchup between the two teams in Monday night's national title game.
That's the way he filled out his bracket. His prediction? Duke, of course.
"That would be pretty cool," he said. "If Kentucky comes in undefeated, I'd love for Duke to be the one to knock them off. I'd like to see that matchup."
The other two McDonald's All-Americans representing those two schools — UK's Isaiah Briscoe and Duke's Chase Jeter — went on the record with the Final Four picks you'd expect.
Jeter: "Duke, man, c'mon. Is that even a question?"
Briscoe: "Kentucky's going to win it all. I really don't care about any other team, honestly."
Both did acknowledge that Cats-Blue Devils is the combination they'd most like to see in the finals.
"I want that game," Briscoe said. "Kentucky versus Duke — that's the game I want to see. It's just going to be a great, fun game. Just as a fan of basketball, that's the game I'm waiting for."
Other recruits at the McDonald's game were split.
Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman and Cheick Diallo — three of UK's biggest remaining targets — all predicted the Wildcats would take the title.
Caleb Swanigan — another uncommitted UK target — picked Duke over Kentucky.
Stephen Zimmerman, who some consider the most likely undecided prospect to choose the Wildcats, went in a different direction.
"I think Wisconsin's going to win it all," he said with a straight face. "Kentucky is amazing, but it's hard to go undefeated. And it's real easy to lose after you've won all those games."
Killer B's on attack
Newman is considered the No. 1 guard in the class of 2015, and he still hasn't made his college decision.
That means he was one of the players subject to a little peer recruiting this week in Chicago.
UK signee Briscoe is one of his close friends, but he wasn't the McDonald's All-American who recruited Newman the hardest.
Who was? "The Killer B's from LSU," Newman said.
That would be Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney, two five-star players who hope to take Louisiana State to the next level in 2015-16.
Apparently, Simmons and Blakeney came up with the "Killer B's" nickname themselves. "So I just go with it," Newman said.
The 6-foot-3 prospect plays high school ball in Jackson, Miss., but he was born in Shreveport, La. That's where his mother still lives, and it's the city Newman called home until he was in sixth grade.
He said the idea of playing for his original home-state school wouldn't have an effect on his recruitment. But Newman obviously is intrigued by the idea of teaming up with the B's.
"I think if all three of us went there, we'd be a powerhouse," he said.
Newman is also considering UK, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kansas and North Carolina State.
UK target Zimmerman recently wrapped up his high school career with his fourth straight Nevada state title and became the winningest prep player in the history of Las Vegas.
That's not where he started.
Zimmerman told the Herald-Leader that he was born in Hendersonville, Tenn., and lived in Nashville until he was about 6. He then lived in California before moving to Nevada when he was 9.
UNLV is one of the five schools on his final list, and the idea of staying home to play for the Runnin' Rebels has its pros and cons.
"It would be cool," Zimmerman said. "And obviously being from Las Vegas, I talk to the UNLV players a lot and they're always on me to go there. But the negative side is, I've been in Vegas since I was young. So, of course, you want to travel."
Quote of the night
Briscoe had one of the best dribble moves of the McDonald's Game on Wednesday night — going to his left before unleashing an impressive step-back and then nailing a long-range jumper over Arizona signee Allonzo Trier.
The New Jersey native was asked whether UK fans should expect to see that next season as part of his regular repertoire.
"I don't know," he responded. "I got so many moves it's hard for me to keep up."
More recruits on TV
The Dick's Sporting Goods national tournament semifinals will be played Friday in New York City, and a couple of UK targets are still in the event.
Five-star junior point guard Derryck Thornton and Findlay Prep (Nev.) will play in the first semifinal at 3 p.m., and senior power forward Thomas Bryant and Huntington (W.Va.) Prep are in the second semifinal at 5 p.m.
Both games are on ESPN2.
The national finals, at noon Saturday at Madison Square Garden, will be televised on ESPN.