Tom Izzo has done a whole lot of good in his career at Michigan State. One national championship, seven Final Four appearances, and 12 combined Big Ten regular season and tournament championships are just a few of his accomplishments. This year he could possibly add on to each of those categories too.
But there is one thing he has failed to do — solve the Duke Blue Devils and Mike Krzyzewski. In the 21 years Izzo has been at Michigan State, he has battle Coach K and the Blue Devils 11 times and his Spartans were victorious only once. That’s pretty dominant for one blue blood program against another.
Izzo will get another crack at Krzyzewski on Tuesday night in a highly anticipated matchup between No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Michigan State in Chicago as part of the Champions Classic. This may be the best game in the early part of this college basketball season, but that’ll only be the case if Izzo can overcome his history with Coach K.
Before we take a look at Tuesday’s matchup, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and look back at each addition of Michigan State-Duke since Izzo took over in 1995.
Dec. 2, 1998 — No. 9 Michigan State 67, No. 4 Duke 73
The first addition of Izzo-Krzyzewski was a top 10 battle also in Chicago at the United Center. Duke would get the best of Michigan State in this big-time non-conference battle, but it wouldn’t be the only time these two met in the 1998-99 season.
March 27, 1999 — No. 2 Michigan State 62, No. 1 Duke 68
For a second time in the 1998-99 season, Duke beat Michigan State by six points, however this one hurt a little bit more with it ending the Spartans’ season in the Final Four.
Michigan State trailed by 12 points at halftime, and would only be able to cut that deficit in half before the final whistle. Elton Brand led Duke in scoring with 18 points in this matchup.
Dec. 3, 2003 — No. 5 Michigan State 50, No. 6 Duke 72
The third of five top 10 matchups between Izzo and Krzyzewski was also the biggest blowout of the series. The Blue Devils first trip to the Breslin Center was one to remember as Shelden Williams dropped 16 points to get the victory in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Duke used a 20-to-2 run in the first half to bust this one open.
Nov. 30, 2004 — No. 11 Michigan State 74, No. 10 Duke 81
Here’s a name Michigan State fans hate hearing — J.J. Redick. He dropped 29 points and so did Daniel Ewing to lead the Blue Devils past the Spartans in another big-time Big Ten-ACC Challenge tilt. However, Michigan State would get the last laugh later this year.
March 25, 2005 — No. 15 Michigan State 78, No. 3 Duke 68
Finally, Izzo was able to slay the dragon and get his Spartans past Coach K. Paul Davis dropped 20 and Alan Anderson added 17 points to lift Michigan State past Duke in a Sweet 16 battle in Austin, Texas.
The Spartans would beat Kentucky two days later to reach Izzo’s fourth Final Four.
Dec. 1, 2010 — No. 6 Michigan State 79, No. 1 Duke 84
Izzo’s second trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium was a similar result to the first one. Kalin Lucas, Draymond Green and Korie Lucious combined for 50 points but it wasn’t enough as the Kyrie Irving-led Blue Devils get another win over Izzo.
Nov. 15, 2011 — Michigan State 69, No. 6 Duke 74
This was one of only two times that Michigan State was unranked battling against Duke, and it was a surprisingly close game. This matchup was also part of the Champions Classic, and the victory made Krzyzewski the winningest coach in Division I history.
March 29, 2013 — No. 9 Michigan State 61, No. 6 Duke 71
Another NCAA Tournament battle between Michigan State and Duke, and another victory for the Blue Devils. It was only a one-point lead for Duke at half, but a big second half pushed the Blue Devils to the next round and ended Michigan State’s year in the Sweet 16.
Nov. 18, 2014 — No. 19 Michigan State 71, No. 4 Duke 81
This was the second time Michigan State and Duke tangled up in the Champions Classic, and it featured the same result as the first battle. Four of Duke’s starters scored 15 or more points, led by Quinn Cook’s 19.
April 4, 2015 — No. 24 Michigan State 61, No. 4 Duke 81
For the third time in the Izzo-Krzyzewski rivalry it was a double-dip in the same year. This was another Final Four rematch, and Michigan State was simply overmatched.
The Spartans started off hot with an early 14-6 lead but it went downhill from there. Michigan State’s magical tournament run ended that night and Duke would win another national championship a few days later.
Nov. 29, 2016 — Michigan State 69, No. 5 Duke 78
Miles Bridges’ first crack at the Blue Devils didn’t go as he would have liked. Bridges had 11 points and nine rebounds as the Spartans kept it close throughout but didn’t have enough to pull off the upset at Cameron. Will Bridges and company avenge last year’s loss to Duke? We’ll find out on Tuesday.