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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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Michigan State Heads to Cameron Indoor to Face No. 5 Duke


Michigan State’s season thus far can be described in one word: taxing.

The Spartans’ gauntlet of an early season schedule has been talked about countless times, but it must be brought up again. On Tuesday, they fly south to North Carolina and will face one of the best college basketball programs in the country in Duke (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Spartans are coming off their third-place finish in the Battle 4 Atlantis played in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving week.

MSU (4-3) fell out of the AP Top 25 poll following their loss to Baylorwho jumped to No. 9–and close win over Wichita State this week, while their next opponent in the Blue Devils (6-1) dropped one spot to No. 5, with their one loss coming to Kansas in the Champion’s Classic.

Head coach Tom Izzo apologized to his team following the Baylor loss for the rigorous schedule that he planned. Of course, he planned to have two big men in senior Gavin Schilling and graduate transfer Ben Carter healthy. Plus, Deyonta Davis going to the NBA has hurt this year’s roster. Nonetheless, the lack of practice for the freshman-heavy team, as well as tens of thousands of miles travelling, has taken its toll on the Spartans.

From East Lansing, to Hawaii, to New York, to the Bahamas, to Durham, N.C. (with a couple stops back home in the mitten), it has been a wild ride. Tuesday’s game highlighting the ACC/Big Ten Challenge should be no different.

The Blue Devils will be without three of their star freshmen in Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden. Preseason All-American and Naismith Player of the Year frontrunner Grayson Allen (who had his coming out party against Michigan State in the Final Four back in 2014) is questionable to play due to a toe injury suffered against Appalachian State. He averaged 21.6 PPG last season and is averaging 16.1 PPG in seven games this season.

For the Spartans, those three (and possibly four) critical Blue Devils sitting out could create a window of opportunity for an upset. But if they want any chance of pulling it off, their freshman need to perform exceptionally as well.

They have done just that this season for the most part, though. Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Nick Ward and Josh Langford have been good, but not great. If they want to win on Tuesday, they’ll have to be great collectively. Ward has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the paint, Winston has shown he is a premier passer, Langford earned his first start in the Bahamas, and Bridges—well, he is a beast in every aspect of the game.

While the players on the court will be the ones with the ball in their hands, Izzo will be the one who has to perform at his level: a Hall of Fame one. He has bested many of the great coaches in the nation, but not Mike Krzyzewski. Izzo has struggled to beat Coach K, as he has a career record of 1-9 against him.

But the coach with over 1,000 wins had high praise for Izzo’s Spartans.

“You’re playing against a program, not a team,” Krzyzewski said. “They’re programmed to win and so are we.”

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