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Erin Summers

Defense key for Duke against Michigan State

Posted March 28, 2013
Updated March 29, 2013

— Indianapolis is familiar territory for Duke and Michigan State. It was just three years ago that the two teams played in Lucas Oil Stadium during NCAA tournament play, but that weekend, the stage was a little bigger.

In 2010, Duke and Michigan State joined West Virginia and Butler in the Final Four with a trip to the National Championship game on the line. This time in Indy, the two teams will face each other with the hopes of keeping Final Four dreams alive.

In that 2010 meeting, then freshmen Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee sat court side at Lucas Oil and watched as Nolan Smith, Brian Zoubek and Kyle Singler carried the Blue Devils to a national championship victory. This time around, it's their team -- and the seniors aren't ready to end their careers at Duke just yet. 

"There are certainly some good memories from this building," said Kelly, "We're looking forward to making some better ones." 

So what will it take? 

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said Thursday that Duke isn't the type of team that will beat themselves. They are well disciplined and shoot the ball well. They aren't going to make mistakes. And there is no question that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will make sure that his team is prepared. 

Krzyzewski, meanwhile, can expect the same from an Izzo coached team. A sound defensive effort, a mistake-free game and a group full of offensive threats.

"They show up to play as one, that's the very first thing. So you better show up to play as one," Krzyzewski said. "They play outstanding defense and they rebound offensively better than anyone in the country. So those three areas, more so than an individual, are the things that concern me."

Duke played their best defensive game of the season last weekend against Creighton and if the Blue Devils can match that effort, they will eliminate one of Michigan State's biggest threats -- rebounding. The Blue Devils need to limit Michigan State's second chance opportunities. The team averages 68 points per game and does not rely on a very high number of three-pointers. Taking away those second chances underneath will give Duke an immediate advantage. 

"They have a reputation of being a very tough team, but at the same time, I feel as if we are a tough team as well," said Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon. "If we battle those guys on the boards, it's going to be a big key to the game."

Rasheed Sulaimon Sulaimon: Have to play with all your energy

Michigan State's starting five are all offensive threats, averaging around 10 points a piece per game. Duke cannot focus on one player because they will get burned by four others. The Blue Devils' defensive effort has to be evenly focused on the entire team, every player will be held responsible for locking up their opposing man. 

Duke's advantages will come from outside the arc, as inside Duke will have a difficult time with Michigan State's big men. Adreian Payne alone has 44 blocks on the season. 

"They have four or five players that can shoot threes, that's a huge threat," Payne said. "When they are hitting threes and are rolling, it's hard to stop."

And that's exactly what the Blue Devils will have to do. Their perimeter game will be key. 

The X-factor in this game will be Sulaimon. He provides a threat that Michigan State may not be able to stop, an inside and outside game. The Blue Devils are quite capable of getting the win, but they will have to stick to their game plan. 

Coach Izzo may have said it best, "You better saddle up, because there will be nothing given. Everything will be earned in this matchup."

39 Comments

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  • Toddler10-21 Mar 29, 5:32 p.m.

    Most kids leave early because of the family situations. Most Duke kids dont have to worry much about that. Also most Duke kids are just great college players, its the system of K. He recruits kids that fits his syetem. I would love to see Grant Hill win a NBA title.

  • PacknoPride Mar 29, 4:10 p.m.

    WOW Red Rage. Think I will go with the 4 titles, but pulling for Izzo, and the Spartains tonight.

    — Posted by Toddler10-21

    Yea, it's all about having a system and being able to recruit talent to get that system going, and keep it going. Probably the only coach that recruits better that K is Calipari. The only difference is for some reason they don't leave Duke. Maybe just more profitable to stay than playing in the D league.

  • PacknoPride Mar 29, 4:04 p.m.

    Since 2000 Duke and Coach K have had the most McDonald's AA. Duke leads with 27 MSU has had 9. Duke has 4 on this years team, 2 of which are seniors, and MSU has 3. Two of which are freshmen and 1 junior.
    Duke has Ryan Kelly 5 star recruit ranked 14, and Rasheed Sulimon 18 ranked. MSU has D. Nix 4 star ranked Adrian Payne 5 star 20 ranked. I guess I should throw Curry in, whose wasn't a thought for K until he proved he was one of the best shooter in college basketball.
    Then Duke has a much deeper bench. Cook 4 star, Hairston 4 star, and Murphy 4 star. MSU has nothing on their bench to compare to that.
    So, will see, again, K take all his talent and play a team with less talent and if he wins, the he's the greatest ever.

  • Toddler10-21 Mar 29, 3:56 p.m.

    WOW Red Rage. Think I will go with the 4 titles, but pulling for Izzo, and the Spartains tonight.

  • PacknoPride Mar 29, 3:44 p.m.

    http://www.athlonsports.com/college-basketball/ranking-nations-top-college-basketball-coaches

  • ckpate Mar 29, 3:11 p.m.

    There is no doubt that this should be a good game and a tough match-up for either team. Duke is favored by 2 or 3 depending on the source. There are good reasons that Duke is favored: (1) Better RPI and SOS and (2) Higher seed - see reason #1. Doesn't mean Duke will win but it should be no surprise if they do - not even to the media.

  • Toddler10-21 Mar 29, 2:57 p.m.

    Bilas is just giving his honest opinion. Great analyst. Jay Will also. They both just do there job. Hubert on the other hand was very bias to UNC. I remember him being the only one that picked UNC in a game at Duke, and Duke won by thirty!

  • Obamacare rises Mar 29, 2:41 p.m.

    Duck e.

  • iron fist Mar 29, 2:34 p.m.

    As much as I dislike Duke and some of their fans I will be pulling for Duke (it will be difficult) but they are the only ACC team remaining in the tourney and we need someone to represent the ACC.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Mar 29, 2:19 p.m.

    Jay Bilas, even though he's a former Dukie, is mostly anti-Duke. I think it's because he is a... View More

    — Posted by fbguru

    "Mostly anti-Duke?" What? Nevermind....I saw the Vegas line at Duke by 3. It shoul... View More

    — Posted by cmandelin

    Duke is seeded higher than MSU, but I agree - a lot seem to think MSU will win, and that doesn't make sense to me. Izzo is a hell of a coach, but he's not better than K. I think Vegas got it right - Duke will win in a close game.

    As for Bilas, I think he's a terrific analyst, and he's been unbiased IMHO.

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