The first Final Four matchup is set, and it features some serious contrast. It will be big facing small, pedigree taking on the paradigm and Coach K facing off with Tom Izzo when the Michigan State Spartans take on the Duke Blue Devils. Sparty has only visited the National Championship in two of their last six tries, but this could be their year. There really is no lack of intrigue for this one between college basketball royalty.
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What To Watch For
Michigan State will likely attack Jahlil Okafor by committee, throwing Gavin Schilling, Matt Costello and Branden Dawson at the precocious Duke big man. Whether it will be enough will be the crux of the game.
Another issue of note will be the pacing of Saturday’s contest. For the Spartans to thrive, it’ll be imperative to start on top and reach the summit quickly, fighting Duke from above and from an early advantage.
If this game were to be decided by poise you’d be reckless not to side with MSU. Travis Trice has all but changed his name to Shabazz Napier for the 2015 tourney. Clutch baskets and capturing opportunity has only been the half of it, as the “don’t get too high, don’t get too low” mantra has been more than inherent in the athletic disposition of Trice. No lead is too threatening and no advantage is too certain. Trice’s composure will be key but may not be the key to this game. The fate of this matchup sits with Okafor, and I expect him to play just how you’d expect an NBA lottery pick would play.
Duke 73, Michigan State 67