Michigan State (1-0) vs Duke (2-0)
When: Tuesday, November 14th 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, IL
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Duke -1.5
We’re only into the first week of the College Basketball season and we already have a 1 vs. 2 matchup as the Duke Blue Devils and Michigan State Spartans hook-up in the Champions Classic at United Center in Chicago on Tuesday. Both teams have approached 100 points in the early going as Duke scored 97 and 99 in home victories over Elon and Utah Valley, while the Spartans had 98 in their season-opening victory over North Florida. Veteran guard Grayson Allen is the only senior for Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke squad, and he’s averaging 20 points over the first two contests. The key for this Blue Devils squad is the play of their highly-touted freshman class that features four starters in Marvin Bagley III (24.5 points, 10 rebounds), Gary Trent Jr. (17 points), Trevon Duval (11.5 points, 10 assists) and Wendell Carter Jr. (10 points, 6.5 rebounds). Michigan State had their own crop of four freshman starters a year ago, and they are now an experienced sophomore bunch, led by Player of the Year favorite Miles Bridges (20 points, 10 rebounds in season opener). He’s joined by fellow sophomores Nick Ward (16 points), Cassius Winston (12 points, eight assists) and Joshua Langford (13 points) in the starting lineup along with freshman Jaren Jackson Jr., who debuted with 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Krzyzewski is 10-1 against Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, while Duke has won 11 of the 13 meetings.
The only downfall to this Duke team may be their depth. In their first two games, the five starters played 289 of a possible 400 minutes and scored 166 of the team’s 196 points. Izzo likes to rotate lots of players into the game and his teams are usually physical and likes to get opponents into foul trouble – something the Duke players need to be wary of. The biggest contributor off the bench thus far has been freshman guard Alex O’Connell, who has 12 points in 27 minutes of action and is 2-for-3 from 3-point territory. Duval’s 20 assists in the first two games of a career easily topped Chris Duhon’s previous school record of 12 at the start of the 2000-01 season.
Despite and easy win over North Florida in the opener, the Spartans shot a dismal 3-for-12 from three-point land. Winston was 2-for-2 but shooting guards Langford and Matt McQuaid combined to go 1-of-6 while Bridges was 0-for-2. It’s only one game, but the Spartans will need to spread the floor against good teams to allow Bridges to do his thing. Jackson became the fourth Spartan freshman to post a double-double in his debut and his 13 rebounds were the second-most by a Spartan freshman in his first game. Michigan State will get Stony Brook at home on Sunday.
This should be a terrific battle and a game that could be a Final Four preview. With this many freshman on the floor for Duke, you have to give the edge to the more experienced Spartans in this one. I don’t think Duke is deserving quite yet of a No. 1 ranking. Look for Michigan State to pull this one out in the end.
Pick: Michigan State +2