After continually upsetting higher seeded teams in this year’s NCAA tournament, the Michigan State Spartans fell to the Duke Blue Devils 81-61 in the Final Four.
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Just a week ago, it seemed that Michigan State was reaching its peak at the right time and becoming this year’s unexpected, Cinderella story. Many even compared the Spartans to last year’s UConn Huskies led by Shabazz Napier as the No. 7 seed. However unexpected it was that Michigan State was in the Final Four, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the absolute beat down the Duke Blue Devils handed the Spartans Saturday evening.
But the Blue Devils advance to the National Title notching Mike Krzyzewski’s 9th appearance in the finals.
Duke put on a clinic for Michigan State. The Spartans couldn’t help themselves but throw up low-percentage shots causing the beat down to worsen.
So what happened to Michigan State? They were shooting the ball well all tournament. And it seemed like they were going to continue doing so as they started the game 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Maybe starting the game so hot from three was the worst thing that could have possibly happened to the Spartans. But from that point forward both Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine forced up contested three after contested three making just 3-of-16 for the rest of the game.
The Duke defense proved to be too much for Michigan State. Going into the game, it didn’t seem like anyone could hang with the quick little Spartan point guard, Travis Trice. Obviously, Trice met his match in Tyus Jones. While Jones only scored nine points, he and the rest of the Blue Devils back court forced the Spartans to turn the ball over 14 times, three of which came from Trice.
The Spartans just couldn’t get anything going. And the credit for that should be given to the Blue Devils defense.
Turnovers and fast paced play led to dunk after dunk for Duke. After the first little spurt of scoring for Michigan State, it didn’t feel like the Spartans had any momentum for the rest of the game. Part of that was because the Duke big guys were stuffing the rim just about every other possession.
Even guard Grayson Allen threw one down.
Coach K obviously prepared his guys to get the ball inside because of the clear size advantage Duke had — and his players answered. The Blue Devils pounded the ball into the post to Okafor and Winslow, both accounting for 37 points and shooting 66 percent from the field. There was nothing the Spartans could do but foul, and after they did, Duke nailed most of their free throws shooting just over 73 percent.
Duke put on a clinic for Michigan State. The Spartans couldn’t help themselves but throw up low-percentage shots causing the beat down to worsen. But you have to give it to Duke. They played excellent defense, played to their strengths, and they executed just about as well as a team can. When a Coach K team does all of the above, its pretty tough to beat them. Let alone come within striking distance.
Unfortunately for Michigan State, they were well beyond the come back margin for the majority of the game and felt the effects of one of the most efficient Blue Devil’s performances in tournament history.
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