With Purdue’s loss on Saturday night, all of the Big Ten’s postseason hopes fell on Michigan State. And with a tough matchup against Duke on Sunday afternoon, many were skeptical about the team’s chances at advancing to the Final Four. However, Michigan State showed up and came away with a huge upset against the top seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-No. 2 Michigan State Spartans 68, No. 1 Duke Blue Devils 67
We all knew the statistics and we all were well aware of Tom Izzo’s struggles against Duke since taking over in East Lansing. For better or worse, Coach K has simply had Izzo’s number over the course of his career. Whenever the two teams have faced off, Duke has almost always answered the bell.
And heading into Sunday’s matchup, many thought the same would happen. Duke was the top seed in the entire NCAA Tournament and seemed poised to grab another national title. Zion Williamson was incredible and RJ Barrett was a great player in his own right. The Blue Devils also entered the postseason with plenty of momentum, after running through a stacked ACC Tournament.
However, it was actually Michigan State who came roaring out of the gate. The Spartans got some great production from Cassius Winston earlier and a huge afternoon from Xavier Tillman as well. The two would end up finishing with a combined 39 points.
And even though Duke was able to close things up repeatedly, Michigan State had an answer everytime. Winston would find an open man, Tillman would grab a rebound, and Nick Ward would convert down low. When all was said and done, Michigan State grabbed a 68-67 win over the Blue Devils.
Without a doubt, this is one of the biggest wins of the Izzo era in East Lansing and puts Michigan State back in the Final Four for the first time since 2015. This is the eighth time that the Spartans have made it to the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament with Izzo at the helm and the fourth time in the last 11 seasons. All remarkable numbers for the program.
It was an incredible rise for Michigan State this season. The team looked relatively underwhelming early on, but gained momentum. The emergence of Tillman and freshman Aaron Henry played a big role as well. The Spartans will face off against Texas Tech on Saturday night for a shot to go to the national championship game. Buckle up.