Austin, Tex. – Frank Erwin Center
Friday, 7:10 p.m., CBS
How They Got Here:
NCAA First Round: A battle with #12 seeded Old Dominion lasted much longer than many expected as the Monarchs raced out to a five point half time lead. Still, with superior depth and size, the Spartans were able to wear down their CAA foes and put the game away with two minutes remaining behind a balanced scoring attack that yielded six players with nine or more points.
NCAA Second Round: In what was supposed to be one of the more interesting games of the second rounds, the nation expected to see Syracuse match up with Michigan State. However, Vermont upset the Orange and came calling on Tom Izzo's club. After trading baskets for much of the first half, the Spartans took control with just over two minutes remaining and would not trail again. Big man Paul Davis led the way with 11 points and a game high 14 rebounds, while Maurice Ager added a team high 19 as MSU won 72-61.
Spartans' Season To Date: While Illinois has gotten the most press for their run through the regular season, Michigan State has quietly been the Big 10's second best team. With only two out of conference losses, to Duke and George Washington, Izzo's bunch rolled through the Big 10 at a 13-3 pace. The team was playing solid, but not great basketball midway through the conference season before Coach Izzo sent senior Chris Hill to the bench along with Kelvin Torbert, which helped the team improve and added scoring punch off the pine.
Experience Matters: Boasting an 11 man rotation, seven of Izzo's Spartans are juniors or seniors, which has helped this team through many tough situations. While the lack of a true superstar hurts, either sophomore Shannon Brown or senior Alan Anderson has the ability to step up and carry the team. The Spartans are also the NCAA's second best free throw shooting team, hitting nearly 78% of their attempts as a group on the season.
How Deep is Your Bench : Michigan State will use anywhere between eight and 11 players on any given night, fueling their desire to press and create points off turnovers. That high intensity strategy has allowed the Spartans to shoot nearly 50% from the field on the season. None of the 10 players averaging nine or more minutes average more than 30.
Old Foes: Duke and Michigan State met in Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 20, 2004 as part of the annual ACC-Big 10 Challenge. That night saw Michigan State's Achilles Heel rear it's head as the Spartans were unable to contain Duke's outside shooters, allowing Daniel Ewing and J.J. Redick to combine for 58 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the perimeter as Duke overcame a 10 point first half deficit to win 81-74. The Spartans' strong start was due to big man Paul Davis going off for 17 points and 10 rebounds, outplaying Duke's interior duo of Shavlik Randolph and Shelden Williams for much of the game. Williams finished the night with 12 points and 10 rebounds to go along with five blocks.
*- Duke senior Daniel Ewing, who starred for Willowridge High School, is returning to Texas for the Austin Regional. Ewing's last game in the Frank Erwin Center resulted in a 5A state championship for his team (Ewing had 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) in a 65-58 victory over Bryan on March 10, 2001
*- Duke is 2-3 in NCAA Tournament play in the state of Texas, but has never played an NCAA game in Austin.
*- Against current members of the Big Ten Conference, Duke is 55-22 all-time and 10-3 in NCAA Tournament play.
*- Duke leads the all-time series vs. the Spartans, 5-1, including an 81-74 triumph on Nov. 30 of this season in Cameron Indoor Stadium as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Included in that six-game total are two Duke NCAA Tournament victories over Michigan State in 1994 (second round) and 1999 (Final Four). This will mark the fifth time in seven meetings that the game will be contested on a neutral court
*- Duke and Michigan State have combined for six Final Four appearances in the past eight seasons with each school earning a national championship. The two schools have combined for 446 victories, 14 20-win seasons, seven 30-win seasons, nine conference regular season titles, eight league tournament titles and 11 final AP top 10 rankings since 1997.
Probable Starting Lineup: F- Paul Davis (6-11, 255, JR) – 11.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 56% fg F- Alan Anderson (6-5, 190, SR) – 13.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 87% ft F- Maurice Ager (6-5, 195 SR) – 13.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.0 apg G- Shannon Brown (6-4, 205, SO) – 10.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.8 apg G- Drew Neitzel (6-0, 170, FR) – 3.9 ppg, 2.9 apg Key Reserves: G- Kelvin Torbert (6-4, 218, SR) – 9.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg G- Chris Hill (6-3, 190, SR) – 9.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 4.4 apg C- Drew Naymick (6-10, 240, SO) – 1.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg F- Matt Trannon (6-6, 230, JR) – 2.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg G- Tim Bograkos (6-2, 198, SR) – 1.7 ppg, 1.4 rpg