Dookies v Sparty Is Not an Undercard
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Who woulda thought the other game in the upcoming Final Four is Duke v Michigan State?
Any other year, it would be the late game.
But since this is actually the Wildcat Invitational, with a record-breaking season on the line as Kentucky chases perfection, they're the marquée attraction. Toss in the fact that Wisconsin is also looking to avenge last season's semi-final cliffhanger, and the storylines are indeed compelling.
Still, the Duke-Michigan State game has two coaches with 19 Final Fours between them; Mike Krzyzewksi is going to his tweflth, and Tom Izzo is heading to his seventh. This season, however, even though the Blue Devils have a 33-4 record, they didn't win the ACC's regular season or tournament title. Michigan State had a record or 13-7 after a loss to Nebraska in January, and in the wake of an Elite Eight finish last year, everyone was talking bubble this year for the Spartans.
So who knew this meeting at the State Farm Champions Classic -- in Indianapolis, no less -- would be a semi-final preview on Tue 18 Nov:
Incidentally, guess who else was there, getting acclimated to Indy:
Wisconsin's the only gate-crasher this time around.
The Blue Devils had balanced scoring and needed it, as their bench was held scoreless. Winslow and Matt Jones led the Devils with 16 points, while Tyus Jones had 15, Quinn Cook 10, and Jahlil Okafor had nine.
Okafor must perform better this weekend if Duke is to knock off the Spartans, and the Devil bench will have to contribute something, or Krzyzewski won't cut down the nets for the fifth time in his career.
Izzo's Spartans woke up after the loss to Nebraska, going 14-4 since then. They coulda won the Big Ten tournament title, too, if not for a missed call late in regulation. However, it's telling that they looked ahead and not back:
March has become Michigan State's time of year, and after beating Georgia, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Louisville over the past two weekends, this year's no different. Travis Trice had 17 points in Sunday's 76-70 overtime win over Louisville, while Denzel Valentine had 15 ,and Bryn Forbes added 14 off the bench. In all, the Spartans got 26 points from their subs against the Cardinals, who were looking to get back to the Final Four after missing out last year.
Sparty will need to keep up the balanced scoring against Duke on Saturday. They may be the biggest longshot claim the title this season, but don't tell them that.