Opinion: MSU Looked Fantastic Against Duke

MSU looked fantastic on Tuesday night against the Duke Blue Devils. I do not mean that sarcastically.

I am legitimately impressed with the performance that Michigan State basketball turned in against Duke.

Yes, State lost by double-digits and looked like it has a ways to go before it is anywhere near returning to championship form, but it does not appear that it is too far away.

I predicted on The Pact this week that the Spartans would lose by 15-20 points. I honestly thought it could have been worse. I was kind of expecting a game more like the Kentucky-Kansas massacre (12 points in the second half is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen and Bill Self should be fined by administrators).

But Michigan State found a way. They limited the damage. Holding freshman monster Jahlil Okafor to 17 points and only five rebounds is about as much as you can ask from supremely undersized big men Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling.

The Spartans’ studs showed up too. Branden Dawson, Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine had 18, 15 and 13 points respectively. I would be incredibly thrilled with this if they didn’t also have better than two thirds of the team’s 13 turnovers including five from Valentine.

This game was a litmus test for a young MSU team. Nearly nobody will tell you that Michigan State is a better team than Duke right now. My question heading into Tuesday night was, “How much better than Michigan State is Duke?”

The answer is 10 points better — and that is without Alvin Ellis.

So right now things seem bleak. After being spoiled with a few years in a row of rock solid MSU teams, it is difficult to comprehend a developing Michigan State team. But the development will happen and there is no doubt that this will be a team that can make a run come March.

Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone for Impact Sports.

Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports