Friday, March 29, 2013

Game preview: Duke Blue Devils vs. Michigan State Spartans

Duke vs. Michigan State
When: 9:45 p.m.
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Ryan Kelly's body stretches the floor -- his shot could stretch the difference on the scoreboard.
Soon-to-be Northwestern head coach Chris Collins feels a bit like a senior now

Scouting Michigan State (27-8)

RPI: 8

How they got here: At-large bid; finished the regular season tied for second in the Big 10

Keep an eye on: Gary Harris

The Big 10 freshman of the year, the first-ever for the Spartans, has the athleticism to give Duke fits if he drives off the dribble. With Quinn Cook guarding on the ball and Rasheed Sulaimon taking on 6-foot-6 Brandon Dawson, that leaves Seth Curry to match up with Harris. Curry had success limiting Temple's Khalif Wyatt earlier this year, holding him to six points on 3-of-15 shooting.

A few of the Spartans, Tom Izzo included, compared Harris to Sulaimon.

"Their game is very similar, aggressive," Dawson said. "He's not really as athletic as Gary, but he can shoot it."

Key mismatch:

There really isn't one. The Spartans are most concerned with containing Duke's perimeter. Curry has scored at least 15 points in every postseason game, and Sulaimon added 21 against Creighton. If the shooters--Ryan Kelly included--are hitting from downtown, the Blue Devils are tough to beat.

Number to know:

Second-chance points the Spartans are averaging in the NCAA Tournament.

Pulse check:

No one could be faulted for picking either team to win this matchup. It's a tough call--even for Tom Izzo's 13-year-old son, Steven.

"He had his whole bracket filled out, and I get a big enlarged one," Izzo said. "In our bracket, the only one that wasn't filled out to the end, I said, You haven't finished this one. He said, I'm having trouble with a game. I said, What game? He said, I got you getting to Duke, Dad. I said, That's good. I said, Where are we going from there? I don't know, you know. I don't know, Dad. I don't know.

"So I just kind of -- I tried to be a real parent, you know, not push your kid. Help him make intelligent decisions, like all of us do. And I said, Steven, I love you, man. Do it with your head, not your heart. Don't worry about Mom or Dad. The damn kid didn't do it. He didn't worry about us at all. He picked Duke and we move on.

"So as I told a lot of people, I love my kid. He's a skinny little guy that won't be eating for a month if we lose this game. That's the way it works. That's the way it goes."

Projected Starters

Michigan State
G Keith Appling, Jr., 13.3 ppg, 3.4 apg
G Gary Harris, Fr., 13.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg
F Branden Dawson, So., 9.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg
F Adreian Payne, Jr., 10.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg
F Derrick Nix, Sr., 10.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg

G Quinn Cook, So., 12.0 ppg, 5.4 apg
G Seth Curry, Sr., 17.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg
G Rasheed Sulaimon, Fr., 11.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg
F Ryan Kelly, Sr., 13.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg
F Mason Plumlee, Sr., 17.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg


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