NCAA Tournament Round Of 16: #2 Duke Vs. #3 Michigan State
- CoachingWith four national championships, 11 Final Fours, two Olympic gold medals and a court named after him, Coach K’s legacy is as rock solid as a bomb shelter beneath the Pentagon.Not that Tom Izzo is such a slouch. Known as one of the best prepare-for-a-game coaches, Izzo has reeled off a national title and six Final Fours of his own, and would gain the edge in nearly every coaching matchup.
- OffenseIt’s really pretty simple. Duke scores a lot of points (sixth in the nation in points per game) and does it on 47.6 percent shooting (17th in the country). That’s because Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee are both high-volume, efficient scorers.Quick offense is not the Spartan way, as evidenced by MSU’s low 68.2 points-per-game output, but Izzo’s crew scores key baskets when they need to and controls the paint.
- DefenseThe Blue Devils aren’t a poor defensive unit, but their inability to force turnovers and higher foul rate gets covered up by their explosive offense. They do, however, buckle down well at the end of games.This is where Michigan State thrives, and it’s what makes this game so salivating. Expect Izzo to have the lanes closed off, forcing Duke to score with swift passes and effective long-range shooting.
- Bench DepthCoach K has gone to junior Tyler Thornton the most, and Thornton has responded by shooting long balls at a decent clip. In the tournament, though, expect Duke’s starters to shoulder the load.Freshman guard Denzel Valentine has only matured throughout the year, providing a key offensive boost several minutes in. Travis Trice can also be counted on for a critical three-point make.
This is the most compelling matchup of the Sweet 16, where the winner has a great chance of winning the whole thing. With the way the Big Ten has dominated, very slight nod to Michigan State. -Adam Spunberg, College Basketball Contributor