Mike Krzyzewski's No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils will face off against the No. 3-seeded Michigan State Spartans on Friday night in Indianapolis, site of the 2013 NCAA tournament's Midwest Regional semifinals.
The two college basketball powerhouses cruised to the Sweet 16, each earning impressive second- and third-round victories this past weekend.
Both teams are looking for their first Elite Eight appearance since 2010, when they each reached the Final Four in Indianapolis. Michigan State lost in the national semifinals that year, while Duke went on to win the national championship for the fourth time under Krzyzewski.
With plenty at stake and tipoff on the horizon, we'll get you set with everything you need to know for Friday night's marquee showdown in the Midwest.
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis
When: Friday, March 29 at 9:45 p.m. ET
Live Streaming: March Madness Live
Betting Line: Duke (-2), according to Covers.com.
Key Injuries (according to USA Today)
Duke: No significant injuries.
Michigan State: Keith Appling (shoulder), probable; Kenny Kaminski (shoulder), out.
Duke Player to Watch: Rasheed Sulaimon
Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon was huge for the Blue Devils in their win over No. 7 Creighton on Sunday, pouring in 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor.
Sulaimon, who is averaging 14 points per game in the NCAA tournament this March, will need to make his presence felt yet again for Duke on Friday night. Michigan State is one of the better defensive teams in college basketball this season. Sulaimon's ability to stretch the floor and knock down threes will be critical to Duke's chances of advancing to the Elite Eight.
The Houston native connected on three of five triples against Creighton and is shooting 57 percent from downtown for the tournament. He's only a 39 percent long-range shooter this season, but it's safe to say he couldn't have found his mark at a better time.
Michigan State Player to Watch: Adreian Payne
Michigan State's 6'10" forward Adreian Payne can impact a game in more ways than one, as evidenced by his incredible performance against No. 6 Memphis in the round of 32 this past weekend.
The junior scored 14 points on 50 percent shooting but also brought down 10 rebounds and stuffed five shots in the Spartans' 22-point win. If you watched Saturday's game, Payne seemed to be playing like a man possessed at times, soaring high for rebounds and moving his feet time and again on defense.
His five blocked shots were a career high.
If Payne is playing with that same intensity on Friday against Duke, Michigan State will have a hard time losing.
Key Matchup: Duke's Shooters vs. Michigan State's Perimeter Defense
It's no secret that the Blue Devils are one of the best three-point-shooting teams in all of college basketball, ranking fifth at 40.3 percent. However, what many don't know is that Michigan State is actually one of the top teams in America at defending the three-point line.
The Spartans rank 17th in the country in opponents' three-point percentage, allowing just 29.7 percent of their opponents' long-range shots to go down this season.
Therefore, the key matchup to watch for in Indy on Friday night will be that of Duke's sharpshooters with Michigan State's perimeter defenders. Tom Izzo is one of the best coaches to ever throw on a suit and tie at this time of year, and he'll have his Spartans glued to the three-point line on Friday.
Which team will advance to the Final Four from the Midwest Region?
Still, it's hard to imagine any team slowing down the Blue Devils' outside shooting this spring, as Duke has nailed nearly 260 three-pointers in 34 games this season.
There isn't a more difficult Sweet 16 matchup to predict this March, but there's certainly no arguing that Duke has been the more consistent team of the two this season.
The Blue Devils haven't lost two games in a row all year long and boast a remarkable 20-1 record with senior forward Ryan Kelly in the lineup. On the other side, Michigan State was in the midst of a three-game losing streak three weeks ago, and it lacks a go-to option that can outshine the likes of Kelly or Seth Curry late in the game.
While I have tons of faith in both coaches, I like Krzyzewski's talented, offensive-minded rotation to win out in the end, covering the spread en route to earning a berth in the Elite Eight.
Duke 72, Michigan State 66
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