A huge top 25 matchup between the 12th ranked Michigan State Spartans and the 8th ranked Duke Blue Devils will take place at Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in the Champions Classic.
Both teams enter this contest on winning notes as Michigan State was able to pick up their second win of 2020 by beating up on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at home by ten points in addition to covering the spread as 8.5 point favorites. Duke, on the other hand, has played just one game on the season thus far as they were able to take out the Coppin State Eagles by ten points at home in their first matchup of the season. Nonetheless, the Blue Devils were unable to cover as 39.5 point favorites in the contest.
Important to note that the Blue Devils have really had the upper hand versus the Spartans in recent matchups as they have won all but one of their last seven contests outright. In addition to this, the Blue Devils have won against the spread in five of the last seven games, overall. Interesting enough, the Spartans will seek to halt a three-game losing streak in the Champions Classic versus the Blue Devils.
Spartans rely on defense in win versus Fightin' IrishWhile Michigan State posted a total of three double-digit scorers in their win versus Notre Dame, it should be noted that the defense was primarily responsible for the win as the unit, despite giving up 38% from three-point range, was able to limit Notre Dame to just 35% shooting as a team. Important to note that for the season, Michigan State is allowing under 69 points per game to opponents, including 38% shooting from the floor in addition to under 29% shooting from three-point range. They will certainly need to bring the focus and intensity for their contest versus the Blue Devils as Duke is averaging 80 points per game on well over 50% shooting in 2020. In addition to this, the Blue Devils are racking up a total of 50 rebounds per game, thus ranking them 8th in the nation.
In fact, Duke was able to win the rebounding battle versus Coppin State by a margin of 50-34 for the contest. This contest should definitely be a back and forth affair in this area as Michigan State is ranked 65th in the nation in giving up just 29 rebounds per game to opponents.
Nonetheless, if the Spartans intend to end their losing streak versus Duke, they must be able to become more efficient on the offensive end as they ended their contest with Notre Dame shooting just 43% from the floor in addition to converting just 32% of their three-point shots. Leading scorer in forward Joey Hauser, who is averaging 13 points per game along with 13 boards thus far, ended the contest going 4-11 along with 0-4 from long range; Yet, he finished with ten points along with 16 rebounds (with four being on the offensive end). Forward Aaron Henry, who is also averaging double-figures this season with 10 points, along with six rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.5 blocks, was also effective on both ends of the floor as he ended with 14 points along with eight rebounds and three assists to lead the team.
Nonetheless, the remainder of the starting five was very lackluster as guards Foster Loyer along with Thomas Kithier combine to play 32 minutes for the contest while going just 3-4 from the floor and combining for just nine points. Furthermore, guard Josh Langford also struggled in the contest going 3-7 for just eight points along with four rebounds in the win. Important to know that Langford provided somewhat of a spark from long-range, however, as he went 2-3 for the night. And while Michigan State is averaging over 81 points per game on 48% shooting, including 38% from three-point range in 2020, the fact is that they must be able to step up their play versus top tier teams, beginning with their matchup versus Duke, as they will certainly be seeking to end their skid versus the Blue Devils. It is important to point out that the Spartans, despite winning their most recent neutral-site game versus the Oakland Grizzlies in December of 2019, has gone 1 - 4 against the number in their last five neutral site games.
Blue Devils seek to build off opening performanceDuke played well on both ends of the court versus Coppin State as their defense allowed just 33% shooting on the night in addition to allowing the Eagles to connect on only 29% of their 3-pointers while the offense for the Blue Devils shot 53% , including accumulating a total of 9 three-pointers for the contest. Nonetheless, the bright spot for Duke happened to be the play from reserve guard DJ Steward, who came off the bench to go 10-18 from the floor along with 4-9 from three-point range to end the game with 24 points along with nine rebounds to lead the team. The freshman from Chicago Illinois stands at 6ft 2 inches tall and may very well be a force for the Blue Devils this season, quite possibly in the starting five if the guard play for Duke does not improve.
Speaking of guard play, Jordan Goldwire along with Joey Baker combined to play 39 minutes for the contest while ending with a combined four points, as they went 2-9 from the floor along with 0-6 from three-point range. Fortunately, the Blue Devils were able to get consistent play from forward Wendell Moore along with forwards Matthew Hurt and Jalen Johnson as they combined to go 19-30 from the floor while sinking four of their eight three-pointers on the night . In fact, Johnson was a beast on both ends of the floor as he posted 19 points along with 19 rebounds in addition to recording five assists along with a whopping four blocks for the contest. Nonetheless, it should be mentioned that Duke was lackluster in protecting the basketball all night long as they ended the contest with 21 turnovers, with seven being by Johnson.
While it is yet to be seen if Duke continues to be a turnover-prone squad in 2020; However, this can certainly be an area that the Spartans can possibly exploit in this contest in order to get an edge on the defensive end of the floor.
Stats & Trends
- Spartans are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 Tuesday games
- Spartans are 2-5 ATS in last 7 games versus Blue Devils
- Blue Devils are 5-2 ATS in last 7 games versus Blue Devils
While no line has been set for this contest, I happen to feel as though Michigan State will fare well in this contest versus a Duke squad that has dominated them in past matchups. And while the Blue Devils were able to post over 80 points in their matchup versus Coppin State, expect this to be a huge step up in competition as the Spartans will certainly rely on their defense to keep them in this contest. In all, expect an up and down matchup amongst these two teams with Michigan State hanging close throughout versus this Duke basketball team while maybe putting themselves in a position to win outright due to their ability to utilize their athleticism on both ends of the floor while also using their ability to rebound the basketball.