Michigan State vs. Duke: Problems Each Team Must Address in Sweet 16 Match Up
Duke and Michigan State are no strangers to this stage of the NCAA tournament.
The Blue Devils and Spartans have advanced to the Final Four in 2010 to play at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis before—the same venue that will host this Elite Eight match up.
But the teams did not face each other that season.
This trip to Indianapolis will bestow new challenges for them to overcome, and each team will first need to address a couple of key problems in order to advance to the next round.
Duke Needs More Offensive Production from Ryan Kelly
Kelly has scored a combined nine point in the NCAA Tournament, but his teammates have been able to step up and make up for his offensive dry spell. But if Duke wants to get past the Spartans, then Kelly will have to show up and contribute.
It was he that resurrected the Blue Devils when he returned to the lineup against Miami to scorch the Hurricanes with 36 points.
Duke needs that kind of production from him if it hopes to make an appearance in the Final Four.
Duke Needs Rebounds from Someone Not Named Mason Plumlee
Michigan State is a very good rebounding basketball team, pulling down 37.3 rebounds per game, which is 55th best in the country. Michigan State possesses a plethora of players that can attack the glass, whereas Duke only has one rebounding contributor: Mason Plumee.
In order to beat Michigan State, Duke will need a balanced effort in rebounding on both ends of the floor.
Michigan State Will Have to Muzzle Duke's Scoring
Although Michigan State has held both its tournament opponents to under 55 points, it will be a daunting task to try and silence Duke's scoring regime. The Spartans will have to force a few misses, so they can take advantage of their superior rebounding.
The problem that Michigan State faces is that Duke scores a lot of points from all over the floor, and there is no real formula that can assist the Spartans in shutting the Blue Devils down.
Michigan State Must Force Duke to Turnover the Ball
Michigan State has averaged eight steals and 14 turnovers a game this season. That statistic will not help the Spartans as they head into this Elite Eight showdown.
If Michigan State wants to win, then it will have to force Duke into stressful situations. Points off turnovers could be a huge factor in this game.
The Spartans will need a big defensive effort from Branden Dawson, who is averaging 1.6 steals per game. If Michigan State can keep its steals total higher than its number of turnovers, then the Spartans stand a good chance of advancing to the Final Four