A look at some heavyweight programs in NCAA Basketball and their current status when it comes to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
While we won’t get Baylor vs West Virginia this week but there are still plenty of great NCAA Basketball matchups. In this week’s roundtable, we’ll get thoughts on the Bears and other teams, as the NCAA Tournament gets closer and closer. Here’s who participated in this roundtable;
Jacob Zinkula – @1Perfectbracket
Andrew Tineo – @D_Tineo4
Karl Heiser – @karlheiser17
Anthony Brown – @ABrownSports
Benjamin Zacher – @beezacher
1. Which team do you trust more the rest of the season- Duke or Michigan State?
Michigan State might be the better team right now, but given the gauntlet that is the Big Ten, the Spartans could end up missing the tournament altogether. The softer ACC slate should aid Duke as it continues to develop. Jeremy Roach and DJ Steward haven’t been overly impressive thus far but have shown some flashes in recent games. Matthew Hurt has been solid all season, and perhaps Wendell Moore can build on his 25-point performance against Boston College.
A lot will ride on how Jalen Johnson looks when he returns from injury. Overall, it’s tough to feel great about either team, but whereas Duke will be able to work things out in ACC, the Spartans won’t have the same luxury.
Just one month ago, Michigan State was looking like the best team to take down Iowa. One month later, the Spartans have four losses, most recently a loss to Purdue at home. The offense has been inconsistent and Joshua Langford has not had the season many people expected out of him.
Similar to another team we will be discussing later, Duke is starting to find its stride. Even if it hasn’t been the most pretty of performances, Duke has won three straight conference games.
Both teams will have big games this week, with Michigan State traveling to play Iowa. Duke has to travel as well, as they face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Considering they won the head to head matchup and the better relevant win, I’m trusting Michigan State.
Duke has survived three games against the three worst teams in the conference, combing for a 0-12 record. Michigan State has a fantastic blowout win over ranked Rutgers, I trust the Spartans more
I trust Duke more the rest of the season because they’re in a less competitive conference. The Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball, and we’re seeing a changing of the guard with who can take the top spot this season. Rutgers, Northwestern, Minnesota, Indiana, and Purdue are all solid teams this year.
That is making things difficult for the upper echelon of the conference. Michigan State has a tough five-game stretch coming up with No. 5 Iowa, Indiana, No. 14 Illinois, Rutgers, and Ohio State. I’m not sure they can come out with a winning record with that stretch.
Duke has had to deal with a lot. They had two games postponed this season, another one canceled, and Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski had to quarantine with his wife when their daughter and granddaughter contracted COVID-19. I do feel like this break in the action for the program will work in their favor.
They’ve won two in a row since their game with Florida State was postponed, and they have a pretty good stretch of games to close January: No. 19 Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, No. 16 Louisville, Georgia Tech, and No. 12 Clemson. The game against the Hokies will be tough, but if they can win that one, that will set them up for success with the other four.
Duke can go further in the NCAA Tournament than Michigan State this season. College basketball is unpredictable, so we shall know for sure in two months.
I trust Duke more, but only because the ACC is a weaker conference than the Big 10. Wins will come more easily for the Blue Devils than the Spartans. We’ve already seen as much with Duke sitting undefeated in conference play while Michigan State is 2-4. I can’t really say which of these teams I think is better, and I definitely don’t trust either of them, but Duke has a much easier road than Michigan State.
Right now, I am erring more on the side of Michigan State. Neither team are particularly good – but the Spartans do hold a 14-point head-to-head win, have a win over Notre Dame – which is, coincidentally, Duke’s best win at the moment – and have the best win of the two, having annihilated Rutgers last week.
One of Duke’s biggest issues early on was the lack of consistency – but the Blue Devils have had multiple players score double-digits in their last two outings. That is obviously a great sign, but both wins have come over Boston College and Wake Forest – two of the worst teams in the ACC. Their tilts against Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Clemson this month will provide opportunities for them – but until then, Michigan State appears like the better team.