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April 4, 2015Basketball

Coach K & Izzo

Louisville,KY April 4, 2015 (Analyzed Sports)

2015 Final Four Preview- Michigan State vs. Duke

Izzo’s Spartans versus Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils

The Coaches: The first match-up in the Final Four between The Duke Blue Devils and the Michigan State Spartans, features two of the greatest coaches college basketball has ever seen. Tom Izzo, the head coach of the Michigan State Spartans  has done some of his best coaching with a Michigan State team that few thought would make it this far in the NCAA Tournament. Izzo’s Spartans are 27-11 on the season and finished with a record of just 12-6 in the Big Ten Conference. Yet the Spartans as a 7th seed in the NCAA Tournament have made it to yet another Final Four, making  it ironically Tom Izzo’s 7th Final Four appearance in his 20 years at Michigan State. Still the Spartans will have their work cut out for them as the Duke Blue Devils are led by a Hall of Fame coach in Mike Krzyzewski.

Kryzewski also known as Coach K has led this year’s Blue Devils to a 33-4 record, including going 15-3 in the ACC conference. The Blue Devils  entered the NCAA Tournament as a number one seed in the South Region. Duke has defeated its NCAA Tournament opponents on average by 13 points per game, if you exclude their first game against the 16 seeded, Robert Morris. This will be Duke’s 12th Final Four appearance under Coach K in 34 seasons.

2015 Final Four Preview- Michigan State vs. Duke

Jahlil Okafor of the Duke Blue Devils on Friday at open practice.

The Players To Watch : With all of the talk about coaching, ultimately the players will decide this game and there are a few names viewers need to be aware of for tomorrow’s big game. Obviously if you have watched any college basketball this season you have seen or heard the name Jahlil Okafor a few times. Okafor, who is a freshmen and the projected number one NBA draft pick, averages nearly 18 points and 9 rebounds per game for the Blue Devils. At 6 ft. 11 and 270 lbs, he requires a lot of attention to detail on defense and is often times doubled in the post, thus opening up room for his fellow talented teammates to operate on offense. Senior Quinn Cook, super freshmen Tyus Jones, and Justice Winslow are all cable of having big games and tend to capitalize off a defense when they emphasize too much on Okafor. Besides Okafor, Winslow is another big time player who is a versatile forward that can do it all on both offense and defense.

2015 Final Four Preview- Michigan State vs. Duke2015 Final Four Preview- Michigan State vs. Duke

Brandon Dawson Final Four Press Conference

As for Michigan State they are 4th in the country in assists, averaging nearly 17 per game. The Spartans are led by three upperclassmen in junior Denzel Valentine and seniors Branden Dawson and Travis Trice. Dawson is an energy player who leads the Spartans in rebounding averaging nearly nine rebounds per game. Trice and Valentine are crucial in scoring for the Spartans, Trice averages nearly 15 points per game and Valentine averages 14. Valentine also averages six rebounds and four assists per game, so he is a very capable playmaker for the Spartans.

Unlikely Heroes/ Other Key Notes: In almost every Final Four there is someone who comes out of nowhere for a team and makes a name for himself, so don’t be surprised if you hear some unfamiliar names in Saturday night’s game. For the Duke Blue Devils two players come to mind, Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson. Jefferson is a player who goes after the offensive glass well and brings a lot of energy to the Blue Devils. Matt Jones is a freshmen wing who can light it up from the three-point line if left open. Jones scored 16 points against Gonzaga in Sunday’s Elite Eight and made 4/7 of his three-point attempts. As for the Spartans the junior Bryn Forbes scored 14 points against Louisville in the Elite Eight and made 4-6 his three-point field goals.

 Another stat to remember is 8-1, as Coach K has defeated Izzo’s Spartans eight times. Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils  are also 2-1 against the Spartans in the NCAA tournament. Duke and Michigan State played back in November, the final score was 81-71 Blue Devils. Lastly Duke hasn’t won a national championship since 2010, when they defeated the Butler Bulldogs. As for Tom Izzo and the Spartans, they haven’t won a national championship since 2000.Also for Michigan State free throws have been an Achilles heel as they shoot nearly just 62% from the foul line, while Duke shoots nearly 70% on their free throw attempts. Tip off for the Duke Blue Devils and the Michigan State Spartans will be around 6:10 Saturday night in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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