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TOC Staff Picks: MSU vs. Duke

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A trip to the Final Four on the line. Who will win? Duke or Michigan State?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-LSU vs Michigan State Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the game everybody wanted to see. Michigan State vs. Duke for a trip to the Final Four. It doesn’t get much better than this. See what our writers think about the matchup.

Samuel Tyler

MSU 82, Duke 78

Tight game throughout. Zion goes for 30. Barrett for 25. But Winston wins the match up with Jones, and MSU destroys Duke on the offensive glass. The teams equalize each other in transition and MSU has another low turnover game for the win.

Kyle Thele

Michigan State 76, Duke 75

The Spartans don’t miss at the rim. Aaron Henry skies over Zion for the game-winning tip-in.

David Harns

Duke 80, MSU 79

After struggling for a few rounds of NCAA play, the Blue Devils come out playing to the level of their competition, focused. Duke puts together its best game of the tournament and its just enough to beat the Spartans.

Ryan O’Bleness

Michigan State 81, Duke 77

At the start of the tournament, I originally picked Michigan State to lose to Duke in the Elite Eight. The Blue Devils are damn good and superior athletes, and frankly, history is not on Tom Izzo’s side against Coach K. However, the Spartans are just playing too well as a collective unit right now and this is a vintage Tom Izzo in March run. Meanwhile, luck has been on Duke’s side the past two games. But you won’t get lucky against a team like MSU if you let them hang around in clutch time. I think MSU is simply going to outwork Duke on the glass, take good shots, play with discipline and be the tougher team. The Spartans must have a similar game plan as they did against LSU. If MSU limits the turnovers, takes away the paint and forces Duke to take shots from the perimeter, then it’s a Final Four appearance for the Spartan Dawgs. Michigan State also has to stop a guy named Zion Williamson. Cassius Winston ices the game with clutch free throws down the stretch.

Zach Manning

Duke 78, MSU 73

Like many, I do believe MSU can win this game, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Spartans did pull this one out. However, I think Duke makes enough plays late to win a close game.

Matt Hoeppner

Duke 75, MSU 70

I want to make it perfectly clear off the bat that I think MSU can win this game. The Spartans are equipped to beat this Duke team, which might be playing without their leading three-point threat for a second game in a row.

This MSU team is mentally tough and has overcome basically everything that has gotten in their way. If there was a group to finally break through against Duke, this is the team.

That said, the history is hard to avoid and no matter how much you game plan these guys, Zion Williamson is a freak that cannot be defended. They win on raw athleticism and size and MSU will need to play a nearly flawless game to beat them.

It can be done, but I just don’t have it in me to say that it will happen.

Justin Thind

MSU 81, Duke 73

MSU will keep their turnovers in check for the second straight game, while also having a good day on the boards. Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett will each hit 20+ points, but Duke will see little help from the supporting cast. The team as a whole will come back down to earth and shoot their usual average from 3, forcing Duke to have to work for every point against this stellar MSU defense. McQuaid and Goins getting back to their early-March forms will be the separating factor, along with a strong inside performance by Tillman.

Matt Sheehan

Duke 78, MSU 73

I think MSU walks in with the game plan of “Let Zion get his, just lock down everyone else.” And while it will work to an extent, some random player on Duke will go off and save the day for them. And let’s not kid ourselves — MSU isn’t getting a single favorable call today and Zion (as always) will be allowed to do whatever he wants on the court. The sooner we all accept that, the better.