DUKE BLUE DEVILS
vs. MICHIGAN ST SPARTANS
United Center Ė Chicago, IL
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 pm ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
#2 Michigan State will be hoping to take over the top spot in the rankings with a win over #1 Duke in Chicago on Tuesday.
One of the great things about the college basketball season is that we get a chance to see some elite programs face one another early in the year. That is exactly what will be happening on Tuesday, when Duke and Michigan State battle it out at the United Center. These two teams are both considered favorites to win the NCAA championship this year, so each of them will want to make a statement with a win on Tuesday. Duke has opened the season by beating Utah Valley and Elon by an average of 29.5 PPG. Michigan State was equally as dominant in its first game, beating North Florida 98-66. When Duke and MSU faced one another last year, the Blue Devils won 78-69. In the past three meetings between the teams, the Blue Devils have won SU in all three games and covered in two of them. This could, however, be the Spartansí chance to get back into the win column, as they have what appears to be one of Tom Izzoís best teams ever on paper. And one thing that bodes well for both teams in this one is the fact that both are entering this game at pretty much full strength. The last thing anybody would want is for injuries to play a role in the outcome.
The Blue Devils have one of the most talented teams in the nation, as F Marvin Bagley III, G Grayson Allen, C Wendell Carter Jr., G Gary Trent Jr. and G Trevon Duval are each good enough to be the best players on a majority of the teams currently competing in the NCAA. The headliner of the group is, however, Bagley III. The freshman is widely considered to be one of the top NBA prospects in this yearís draft class. He has done nothing but dominate thus far, as he is averaging 24.5 PPG and 10.0 RPG through two games this season. The one thing he is having trouble with right now is his free throw shooting. He is just 2-for-9 from the line this year, but he could just be nervous. But Carter Jr., Trent Jr. and Duval are all talented in their own rights, too. Carter is a monster in the paint, as evidenced by his 6.5 RPG and 3.0 BPG in only 23.5 MPG. Trent Jr. is a sniper from the outside, where he is shooting 53.8% from three through two games. And Duval is the teamís playmaker. He is averaging 10.0 APG through two games and his unselfishness will be a huge factor for this team this season. The Blue Devils have plenty of guys that can score the ball, so itís big to have somebody that finds guys in the spots they like to score. As for Allen, he is the teamís veteran leader at this point and he is still as good as there is in terms of two-way perimeter players in college. He is off to a good start this season and the expectation is that he will avoid some of the on-court issues he had last year.
The Spartans were considered to be a favorite to win the championship the second that F Miles Bridges announced he was returning to East Lansing. Bridges was ridiculous as a freshman for Tom Izzo, as he averaged 16.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 1.5 BPG on 48.6% shooting from the field and 38.9% shooting from three. Bridges is one of the strongest and most athletic players in the nation and he also happens to have the ridiculous skill to match it. Even with a guy like Bagley on the other side in this one, Bridges will be the best player on the floor here. Look for him to play incredibly well with the entire spotlight on this one. And Bridges isnít alone either. C Nick Ward, G Joshua Langford, F Jaren Jackson Jr., G Cassius Winston and G Matt McQuiad are all threats out there. Ward is a beast inside and has some size on Wendell Carter. If Ward can stay out of trouble then he should be able to dominate that matchup. Jackson will also do a lot of his damage in the paint. Heís another big body and will likely be matched up with Bagley quite a bit here. As for the others, they do their scoring mostly from the perimeter. Winston is the playmaker here and some have called him the best passer that Michigan State has had since Magic Johnson. He should be able to put on a show in this one. And the heart and soul of this team hasnít been mentioned yet. That would be Lourawls ďTum TumĒ Nairn, who is as unselfish as they come and also plays elite perimeter defense. Look for him to make an impact here.