2013 Sweet 16 Predictions: Michigan State vs. Duke March Madness

Last Updated: March 28th, 2013 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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Ryan Kelly DukeThe 2013 NCAA Tournament continues on Friday night in the Midwest Region, where the Duke Blue Devils and the Michigan State Spartans are going to renew what has become a very important rivalry over the course of the last few years. Head Coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans are the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region, and they are lined in what basically is a pick ’em game against the No. 2 seeded Blue Devils, who have to still feel slighted over the fact that they aren’t on the top line in the dance.

March Madness: Michigan State Spartans vs. Duke Blue Devils
Michigan State vs. Duke Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Michigan State vs. Duke Date/Time: Friday, March 29th, 9:45 p.m. ET
March Madness Television Coverage: CBS

Key #1: Ryan Kelly needs to make his first legitimate appearance of the tourney
It’s clear that when the Blue Devils are at their best, Ryan Kelly is at his best as well. This is a man that is going to be a matchup nightmare for the significantly less athletic Spartans to try to handle if he gets going. Kelly is every bit of 6’11”, and he can step back from the outside and knock down some big time shots. However, Kelly has gone four straight games now, scoring a total of just 25 points in those outings, and that’s just not good enough at this level for a team that is expected to challenge for a spot in the Final Four this week. If Kelly is hitting his shots, either F Adreian Payne or F Derrick Nix is going to have to step out and try to guard him on the perimeter, and if that turns out to be the case, the battle on the glass is going to be won by the Dookies in easy form. Kelly really didn’t have to exist against Albany or Creighton because those teams weren’t going to challenge F Mason Plumlee on the glass anyway, but if Kelly can’t step back and draw a defender away from the basket, Plumlee could have some problems.

Michigan State vs. Duke Odds at Diamond Sportsbook
#3 Michigan State Spartans +2
#2 Duke Blue Devils -2
Over/Under 134.5
Click Here to Bet Your Sweet 16 Picks!

Key #2: Keith Appling’s shoulder had better be good to go
The Spartans have put together two very impressive games here in the dance, but there is a big, big difference between playing against Memphis, playing against Valpo, and playing against Duke. The Blue Devils have legitimate NBA-type talent from one to five in this lineup, and there is no doubt that they are going to be in it for the full 40 minutes. That means that the Spartans have to be playing at full strength as well, and that might be a tad difficult. Appling hurt his shoulder in the win over Memphis on Saturday, and he ended that game with just two points, two assists, and a rebound. Granted, others like G Gary Harris were able to pick up the slack at that point for Sparty, but we just don’t know if there is enough talent here on this team to come up with a big time effort against the Blue Devils to carry the load for a player that might be carrying an injury.

Diamond Sportsbook

Key #3: The Dookies have to be ready to get down and dirty
The one thing about the ACC this season is that there really weren’t a lot of teams that willingly played the knock down, drag out games that the NCAA Tournament is known for. This is where we are going to learn a heck of a lot about Duke and its prospects of not just winning this game, but its chances of winning the whole enchilada as well. When you really look at the games that the Blue Devils played this year, they really weren’t forced into a lot of half-court type of games. The Virginia Cavaliers did it to the Dookies in Charlottesville, and the hosts won that game 73-68. Duke does have a win over the Ohio State Buckeyes to its credit as well from back in November of the same caliber, but that game was a long time ago, and obviously, OSU is a heck of a lot better now than it was before. However, with so many great teams that could play some big time defense left in the dance, the Blue Devils are going to need to prove that they can play this gritty type of game if they are going to win and be successful.

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Posted in NCAA Basketball - Last Updated on Thursday, March 28th, 2013 @ 4:38 pm (EST)
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