This has been a classic redemption year for Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans. The longtime coach called last year’s team the best of his career before it bowed out in the Round of 32 to Syracuse. It also got swept by rival Michigan (at home and in the Big Ten Tournament).
First, Spartans took out the Wolverines in 3 meetings, helping earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament East Regional. Next, they avoided the early exit by edging No. 15 Bradley and thrashing No. 10 Minnesota. With a 17-point win over No. 3 LSU Friday night in Washington (D.C.), Izzo has his program resembling its historical March form.
There’s another step towards full redemption: beating Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. Izzo is just 1-11 against the Blue Devils and their legendary leader. The two will meet again Sunday night for a chance at the Final Four.
Duke, the top overall seed, battled No. 9 UCF and No. 4 Virginia Tech down to the wire to advance past the last 2 rounds. Now, Michigan State’s band of upperclassmen will have to find a way to slow down the freshman corps led by superstar Zion Williamson.
Let’s take a look at the betting preview.
Duke vs. Michigan State Betting Preview & Injury Update
*Note: Betting info and updated lines courtesy of OddsShark:
Early Update (will edit when OddsShark updates line officially):
- Duke Blue Devils (-1.5) vs. Michigan State Spartans on March 31 (5:05 p.m. EST, CBS
- Over/Under: 148.5
Duke is currently 1-7 ATS on the season.
Duke freshman forward Cam Reddish was ruled out of the Blue Devils’ Sweet 16 matchup against Virginia Tech on Friday night at Captial One Arena in Washington, D.C., coach Mike Krzyzewski told CBS’ Tracy Wolfson.
Krzyzewski told Wolfson that Reddish had a left leg injury. Per The Herald Sun‘s Stephen Wiseman, a knee issue kept him out. Reddish arrived to the arena with the team Friday, but did not go through warmups and did not start the contest.
With the issue still in question, it’s unclear of he will be available for the matchup with Michigan State. Meanwhile, the Spartans lost swing Kyle Ahrens (foot) for the year against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament final. He’s an emotional leader, but scores only 4.5 points a game.
Former 5-star guard Josh Langford is also out for the year, but has been since December with an ankle injury.
Duke vs. Michigan State Prediction & Pick
This is likely Izzo’s last best shot to top Duke. According to Ken Pomeroy, the Spartans are the No. 3 team in the country and one spot ahead of the Blue Devils.
Both teams boast offenses and defenses in the top-10 in terms of efficiency. There’s one difference between Michigan State on the other teams Duke has faced so far in this tournament: the Spartans won’t bow down to Williamson and company in the paint.
The Hokies ranked well outside the top-50 in 2-point defense, while the Spartans rank No. 2 with just 41.5 percent allowed. That puts one matchup into the crosshairs: Williamson versus Xavier Tillman. The Michigan State sophomore has anchored the defense, executing constant switches to help shut down LSU’s Naz Reid, an NBA Draft lottery hopeful.
Williamson is a different animal, though. He has notched at least 20 points in every single game since returning from his late-season knee injury. Tillman holding him on the lower end of that would go a long way to pulling the upset.
Additionally, Spartan point guard Cassius Winston has to get the better of freshman Tre Jones. Against a similarly stingy defender in Michigan’s Zavier Simpson, Winston scored 64 points in 3 meetings.
It’s tempting to pick Michigan State, seeing as Duke has played with fire in its last 2 games. It’s so tempting that I’m going to do it. This year just seems like it made for Izzo.
Prediction: Michigan State 79, Duke 75
Pick: Michigan State +1.5