One of the most exiting matchups in college hoops is here as two legendary programs, Duke and Michigan State, face-off in the State Farm Classic.
When: Tuesday, November 14th, 2023 — 7:00pm EST
Where: United Center — Chicago, Illinois
Where to Watch: ESPN
Well despite the tough start for the Michigan State Spartans, this should still be a great matchup. Tom Izzo’s team still bolsters one of the best rotations with great guard play that can match Duke in size and athleticism. It’s a long season, and the Spartan’s loss to James Madison can be overlooked especially considering JMU was a worth opponent. Duke dropping a game to a very talented Arizona team is also nothing to panic over. So don’t let that detract too much from what is one of the most anticipated matchups between two legendary programs set to face off in what could be the most exciting mid-season tournament, the State Farm Classic.
Michigan State Spartans (1-1)
All things considered, Michigan State is in a pivotal point early on in the season. Having played Southern Indiana this past Thursday night in a 74-51 victory, MSU looks to get back on track. Just looking at the difference between their loss to James Madison and their win against Southern Indiana tells a lot. James Madison established their game against the Spartans with a lot more ease using their size to their advantage. So before anything, give credit to James Madison for their ability to put themselves in favorable spots. Additionally, Michigan State had an uncharacteristically horrendous night from beyond the arc in that game shooting 1-20 from three with that coming late in the first half.
Against Southern Indiana, Tom Izzo’s team played to most of their strengths much better. They were able to disrupt on defense and create turnovers which allowed for a lot of points in transition off of those. They were able to establish a post presence early and get off to a fast start. They put Southern Indiana in a lot of switching situations and spread the floor quickly which opened up a lot for them. Also, four out of their five starers produced over 10 points. Frankly, MSU needs to play to those strengths and clean it up.
Being able to push the tempo and move the ball is key for their success with this roster. If they can push the pace and get out in transition that will do wonders for them offensively. The one issue for then is if they can finally shoot at leas a modest clip beyond the arc. The Spartans only have two three pointers on the year with one in each game. Defensively, they have struggled with help defense and that’s allowed some open looks for opponents.
Duke Blue Devils (1-1)
Duke also will come into the game with one loss after a tight matchup with the Arizona Wildcats. That matchup showed a lot of what Duke is identity wise this year. To begin one of the biggest takeaways is just how much they rely on Kyle Filipowski who scored about a third of the Blue Devils’ points with 25 on the night. Off the bench they only got 5 points total against Arizona, so like their opposition in MSU, they have two expand on bench production.
Duke has had an alright performance beyond the arc this season and looks to stay on pace with that. Something that’s become apparent for Duke as well is getting out rebounded. It’s only a small sample size, and something that could be adjusted for, but against Arizona it was clear that second chance points were a factor in their loss. Outside of Filipowski, Jeremy Roach is another major threat the Blue Devils can utilize as a threat beyond the arc especially.
Duke however, is a different opponent from what State has seen thus far. They do leave themselves open to turn the ball over for what it’s worth, but can make adjustments to fix those. Their biggest point of emphasis will be to allow Filipowski to produce and/or find support for him through the rotation to overpower a likely strong scoring attack form the other side.
Keys to the Game
- Too many second chance points: One clear weak point from observance is the amount of second chance points MSU is allowing early on, but really both teams showed struggles with this. For MSU, they really need Sissoko and Cooper, their main post presence, to crash the glass and not allow to be out rebounded so often. Duke is in a bit better of a spot here, but it would be nice to see Mark Mitchell take step forward in this aspect to attack with Filipowski to establish.
- Depth: For the Spartans, AJ Hoggard is supposed to be a crucial point to the rotation, but has had a quiet start to the year which has been attributed to shin splints. Nonetheless, his production is missed and showing. With Walker also laboring a sore ankle, Coen Carr, Xavier Booker, and Carson Cooper need to make their presence felt much more. For Duke, they just need some overall production off the bench which was completely missing against Arizona as noted. With the pace that MSU likes to run, Scheyer will need to have guys be able to provide quality minutes to keep the rotation fresh especially from Christian Reeves and Sean Stewart to come in behind Filipowski and Mitchell.
- The Three: For MSU, perhaps their biggest and most surprising issue right now is their lack of effectiveness beyond the arc. Even without Joey Hauser, having only two threes made this season is shocking for this guard-centric lineup. Now they have been able to drive to the basket, but it is critical for them too find that go-to shooter.
- Tempo: Duke can push the pace and get shots at all three levels in transition, but they look like they tend to emphasize getting set and running through different progressions more often than not. They struggled with turning the ball over a bit against Arizona and also were a tad slow getting back in transition at select times which plays right into MSU’s tempo. The Spartans like to force turnovers and really push tempo playing at lightning speed. So whoever is able to dictate the tempo will be able to find more ease offensively with Duke tending to set up and go and MSU really wanting to get out in front.
Expect both Tom Izzo and Jon Scheyer to prepare for this game with everything they’ve got. If both teams play to their potential, this is going to be an exciting matchup and close throughout. With Duke looking a bit more in-tune early, expect them to likely take this one if they keep turnovers low and basically force Michigan State to shoot from deep. However, if State is able to produce from outside the arc, it will change the entire dynamic of the game, opening an attainable path to victory. That being said, it seems like the Blue Devils are operating at a bit better of a pace.
All things considered, both of these teams will be primed for March Madness. Never count out either program behind great coaching and a strong roster each. This is just an early gift from the basketball gods.