The Spartans made the Elite Eight for the 10th time under Tom Izzo, but to make another Final Four, they’ll need to stop a seven-game losing streak against Duke and overcome their 1-4 all-time mark against the Blue Devils in the NCAA tournament. They’ll also need to contain Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson, who is averaging 26.7 points in the tournament.
Matchup to watch: Two premier point guards will do battle. Cassius Winston is Michigan State’s heart and soul, and Tre Jones does it all for Duke, especially defensively. Winston’s personal 7-0 run was lethal against the Gophers, and Jones scored a career-high 22 points against Virginia Tech on Friday, with eight assists and no turnovers.
X-factor: Recent history — Michigan State breezed past the Gophers (by 20 points) and LSU (17) to get here, while Duke squeezed by Central Florida and Virginia Tech by a combined three points.
Coach vs. Coach: This is as good as it gets, with two coaches among the most respected in the sport. And yet, it’s still a mismatch on paper. Izzo is 1-11 all-time against Mike Krzyzewski, giving an edge to Duke.
Records: Duke 32-5, Michigan State 31-6
Duke 78, Michigan State 71. The Blue Devils haven’t made anything look easy the past two games. But Central Florida and Virginia Tech both had peak performances, and Duke fended them off. Michigan State needs its best game here, and the Spartans might have used it up Friday against LSU.