The 2019 NCAA Tournament will continue on Sunday and the final Big Ten team remaining will be in action. Michigan State will matchup against Duke in what projects to be one of the best matchups of the entire tournament.
Here’s what to expect.
-No. 2 Michigan State Spartans vs No. 1 Duke Blue Devils
- Time/TV: 5:05PM ET - CBS
- KenPom Spread: Michigan State (-1)
Ever since Zion Williamson blew up on the scene for Duke earlier this season, it seems like ESPN and the national college basketball media can’t get enough of the Blue Devils and their talented forward. It’s gotten so ridiculous that he even now gets his own camera on him during NCAA Tournament games.
And generally speaking, the attention is deserved. Williamson is a phenonal player. When available, he plays nearly every minute on the court and has (almost) single-handedly gotten Duke through some tough moments. During his last six games, he’s scored at least 23 points in every outing. That’s not exactly something easy to do.
The Blue Devils also have plenty around him. RJ Barrett is an incredible player on the wing and Cam Reddish has done some damage as well. Add in Tre Jones in the backcourt and it’s easy to see why Duke earned the overall one seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
So, can Michigan State stop the hype? Can the Spartans slow down Williamson and Duke’s epic freshman class?
The answer is a resounding yes. To start, Michigan State is actually favored in this game by KenPom. The Spartans haven’t gotten the hype of the Blue Devils this season, but are pretty good in their own right. Cassius Winston is a monster in the backcourt and Aaron Henry and Xavier Tillman continue to emerge.
Michigan State is also a more balanced team than Duke. The Spartans have a diverse offense that isn’t reliant on one guy. The team is also solid on both sides of the ball. There just aren’t any clear holes with this group. Meanwhile, Duke can be hit or miss and can’t get overly reliant on Williamson in big moments.
This game is likely going to be decided by how Duke shoots the ball. The Blue Devils are 329th nationally in three-point percentage and 312th nationally in percentage of team points to come outside the arc. Duke simply doesn’t have any elite shooters on its team. Expect Michigan State to play off the three-point line in this one defensive and dare Duke to shoot over them.
Moreover, Michigan State needs a big game from Winston on Sunday. He needs to be engaged from tip and show why he’s an All-American candidate. Williamson is going to carry Duke for segments of this game. Winston needs to do the same for the Spartans.
The national media is all over Duke in this one, but don’t be fooled. This is going to be a highly competitive game and the Spartans have more than a shot to win this one.
- Pick To Win: Michigan State