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Michigan State vs. Duke: 3 Key players for the Blue Devils

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NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 2-ranked Michigan State Spartans and No. 1-ranked Duke Blue Devils are set to square off tonight in Chicago at 7 p.m. EST as part of the Champions Classic. The college basketball juggernauts will meet early on in the regular season for the second year in a row.

Tom Izzo has just a 1-10 record against Duke during his tenure at Michigan State. The Spartans are 2-11 all-time against the Blue Devils. Could this be the year, with a talent-loaded squad, where MSU can turn around its misfortunates against a very good Duke team?

Michigan State comes in with a 1-0 record after demolishing North Florida by 32 points on Friday. Duke is 2-0 after beating up on two cupcakes (Elon and Utah Valley) itself.

We’ve already covered the Spartans’ 2017-2018 roster in depth. Now lets highlight a few key players to be looking out for tonight for the Blue Devils.

1. Marvin Bagley III, Forward

NCAA Basketball: Elon University at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bagley is an incredible talent as a true freshmen. He actually reclassified from the class of 2018 to the class of 2017 and was the consensus No. 1 recruit for either year. Though the competition has been weak in the early going, Bagley has been as advertised through two games. He is currently scoring 24.5 points and grabbing 10 rebounds per night, while shooting 65.7 percent from the field.

Bagley is 6-foot-11 and versatile. He has good lateral quickness and the ability to guard multiple positions on the floor. He has struggled from the free throw line, making just two of nine shots from the charity stripe so far, but the rest of his game is scary. Spartan fans will hear his named called a lot tonight.

2. Grayson Allen, Guard

NCAA Basketball: Elon University at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Allen is a good player, but he has earned quite the reputation around the NCAA as a dirty player. I’m sure the senior guard is hoping to only be in the headlines for positive reasons this year, and he’s had a strong start. Allen scored 22 points in the season opener against Elon and then followed that up with a 18-point performance against Utah Valley. Additionally, he has totaled seven boards, four assists and a steal in those contests.

He is shooting lights off from three-point range, making 10 of 15 long distance shots (66.7 percent) through two games. Allen is yet to get to the free throw line this season, but he is quite reliable there, shooting 83 percent throughout his career. Allen is 3-0 in his career against the Spartans and will look to improve that record to 4-0.

3. Gary Trent, Jr. Guard

NCAA Basketball: Elon University at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Spartans were highly interested in Trent early on and offered him a scholarship way back in April 2015. Trent was the No. 3 shooting guard in the country per the 247Sports Composite. He has also had a strong start to his freshmen season. Trent is only behind Bagley and Allen in points per game (17) and is averaging five rebounds, 2.5 assists and a steal per game here in the early going.

Trent played 26 minutes in his first ever collegiate game, and then his time on the court was upped to 32 minutes the following night. He’s hit seven threes and is shooting nicely from deep at nearly 54 percent. He’s shooting 46 percent from the field overall. As a 6-foot-6 guard, Trent has good size and is a physical player who can both shoot and attack the rim.

Champions Classic Game Info:

Time: 7 p.m. EST
Location: United Center, Chicago
Line: Duke -2
Over/Under: 157
TV: ESPN