The Duke-Michigan State game will decide the East Regional winner for the last spot in the Final Four. The Blue Devils are trying to make the Final Four for the first time since winning the national title in 2015. That’s also the last time Michigan State reached the national semifinals. They met in the Final Four that year.
Spartans head coach Tom Izzo and his staff are developing a plan in hopes of slowing down the presumed national player of the year, Zion Williamson. Williamson is highly regarded as the upcoming No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. When speaking with reporters Saturday, Izzo insinuated the ideal defender for Williamson doesn’t even play basketball.
From another MWSN article about MSU and Duke: “Khalil Mack is a guy I look at,” said Michigan State’s Head Coach Tom Izzo. “If I could borrow someone from the Bears, maybe we could cover him,” said the coach, referencing Duke’s Williamson.
This is the only No. 1 vs. No. 2 Elite Eight. The East Region finalists will be competing for the the remaining spot in the Final Four, following the West and South on Saturday and the Midwest earlier on Sunday. Duke is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. In spite of this, the Blue Devils have narrowly survived against No. 9 UCF and No. 4 Virginia Tech in consecutive games, winning by a combined three points.
No. 2 seed Michigan State has been far more dominant on the floor of late. After starting slowly against Bradley, the Spartans beat No. 10 Minnesota by 20 and No. 3 LSU by 17.
Duke Blue Devils at Michigan State Spartans
The East Regional (Elite 8)
Date: Sunday, March 31st | Time: 5:05 pm ET
Location: Rupp Arena — Lexington, Kentucky
TV: CBS Sports Network | Live stream: March Madness Live
Historically, Duke has dominated the series with Michigan State. The Blue Devils are 12-2 all-time against MSU, including an impressive 4-1 in the NCAA tournament. The most recent showdown was in 2015, when Duke routed MSU 81-61 in the Final Four.
Michigan State will be tasked with trying to at least slow down Zion Williamson. In three NCAA tournament games, Zion’s posted 25, 32 and 23 points. But the Blue Devils might be without fellow freshman star Cam Reddish, who will be a game-time decision because of a sore left knee.
Duke is incredibly gifted, but also flawed. MSU is more complete, more connected, more experienced, but doesn’t have three NBA lottery picks, two of whom appear destined for NBA stardom. Reddish is key. I believe he’ll play. This MSU team has exceeded expectations at nearly every turn.
The way Duke has been playing, it would be easy to expect the bottom to fall out against a tested and surging Spartans team. Zion is Zion, so the Blue Devils might be in a slightly better position. March Madness is about surprises. As small as this one would be for many people, Michigan State may just find a way to stun Duke today.
This article was written using a press release and information generated by the two institution’s sports information employees. Media in this article is courtesy of NBC Sports. For more college sports, follow us on Twitter @MWSNsports or like our page on Facebook.