Pithy introductions are for topics we need to keep your attention on. This ain’t that, let’s get to it.
Purdue fired out of the gates en fuego in its matchup with KenPom #1 Virginia. The problem ultimately was that Virginia never flinched in the face of Purdue’s shooting barrage, and kept the game close enough for their underratedly-efficient offense to chew the lead away.
Still, Purdue had the lead as time wound down on the back of Carsen Edwards’ 10 (!) made three-pointers, part of his second 42-point game this tournament. However, as time expired, Mamadi Diakite hit a tough mid-range to tie the game and force overtime, where Virginia took control.
Purdue thus heads home disappointed, but it’s hard to be anything but satisfied with a split regular season conference championship and a trip to the Elite Eight. Edwards was the no-brainer Most Outstanding Player from the South region, and the Stephen Curry comps flew fast and furious from the commentators, perhaps justifiably so given the way Edwards played.
With Purdue out, the Big Ten’s robust delegation of eight tournament teams is down to one, as Michigan State prepares for its inevitable showdown with Duke. The narratives are easy to find - Tom Izzo has had as much futility against Mike Krzyzewski as anyone, with a 1-11 career mark. This Duke team has looked mortal so far in this tournament though, needing lucky last-second rolls off the rim to advance in the last two rounds.
MSU’s closest shave so far has been its first-round matchup with Bradley, followed by romps over Minnesota and LSU. The Tigers’ array of impressive athletes may prove to be a decent simulation of Duke’s stellar top-end talent. As of this writing, Duke freshman Cam Reddish’s status is unclear; Nick Ward, who sustained a bone bruise to his already-broken shooting hand, will apparently play, but it’s unclear how much.
I personally remain utterly without expectations for this matchup. This isn’t the first tournament date with Duke where there has been plenty of reason for optimism for MSU, and however sharp MSU’s chemistry is right now, Williamson and Barrett are, worst case scenario, still two of the top three picks in the draft. It’s still Krzyzewski in the tournament.
MSU got huge, and largely unexpected, contributions from freshmen Aaron Henry and Gabe Brown in its Friday night Sweet Sixteen tilt with LSU. If those two make a comparable contribution today and Kenny Goins shakes his postseason shooting swoon, I’d like MSU’s chances. Otherwise, I’ll be raising a glass to a better-than-expected season.
I also didn’t think MSU would win any of its three matchups with Michigan this year. Let’s all rely on the cosmic impact of my bold taeks.
(1) Duke vs (2) Michigan State
5:05 pm EST // CBS // Duke -2.0
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This poll is closed
Points, but Duke still wins