|Date||Time||Location||Where to watch|
|November 14, 2017||7:00pm||The United Center||ESPN|
On Tuesday Duke will take on their toughest challenge to date dueling the number 2 Michigan State Spartans coached by Tom Izzo. This Michigan State team may not receive the fanfare and media attention that Duke has garnered but if there is a disparity in talent it’s minimal – microscopic even. This could be the most talented and deep MSU team Izzo has had and they are led by sophomore Miles Bridges who went for 20 and 10 in Sparty’s first game of the season – a 98-66 win against North Florida.
The leading vote-getter for The Associated Press preseason All-America team, Bridges is an athletic wing who is capable of effecting the game on either end of the floor. Bridges has the capacity to give Duke fits he’s a hard worker and doesn’t need to seek his shot to make a difference. If Duke doesn’t box him out Duke will be in trouble. He also plays stellar defense and moves his feet well. He averaged 1.5 blocks a game last year – his 6’7 frame is built to defend, he also has a 7’0 wing span.
Bridges is the heart and soul but Cassius Winston has the keys and is an assist machine. He averaged 5.2 a game last year and dished 8 in the win against North Florida. If Duke can do a good job of limiting him, it may make things difficult for Michigan State to have any sort of offensive continuity.
In the pain MSU should be able to match Duke pound for pound. They are deep. They start Nick Ward and freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. at the forwards, both can score the basketball and Jackson is a double-double waiting to happen. He is an athletic 6’11 forward who Duke will have to keep off he glass if they have a chance of winning.
Duke should have an advantage shooting the long ball against the Spartans but Duke will have to rebound the basketball well. Last year the Blue Devils shot 38% from beyond the arc and so far this year they are at 46%, conversely last year MSU shot 37% and in their only game so far shot 25%. Obviously not a large enough sample size from either team but something to be aware of.
With both teams wanting to play fast it may be a war of who can execute without turning the ball over. Michigan State, much like Duke is a young team but still have a slight edge in experience starting 4 sophomores and a freshman. Where Izzo has some experience is coming off the bench. The much traveled Ben Carter, elder statesman Gavin Schilling, junior class Matt McQuaid and senior Lourawls Nairn Jr. who averaged 3.5 assists a game last season. The ability to bring in upperclassmen off the bench may be a huge factor in this game.
Duke will need to do what they have been doing so far this season. The formula shouldn’t change.
1. Let Bagley be Bagley – he plays with poise and really isn’t in fear of the big moment. His instincts so far have been spot on.
2. Establish the post – if Duke can get going inside and cause Michigan State to defend the post honestly, Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. will get open looks. Whatever big is in the game be it Carter, Bolden, Bagley or whoever – make strong moves, get to the free throw line. Duke has not done a great job of that as of yet but getting easy points could be a huge difference maker against a team that plays defense like Michigan State.
3. Rebound the basketball. If Duke controls the boards, they control the game. This is always a tall order against a Tom Izzo coached team.
4. Defense to offense, getting fast break points and pushing the tempo is important. Michigan State is well-coached and playing offense with them on their heels or with a numbers advantage could lead to easy buckets.