We’re several weeks into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling, and remarkable events as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.
Today: Michigan State sends Duke home empty-handed from the NCAA Tournament.
Duke University is known for its NCAA Tournament runs, hanging banners in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, and 2015. To say that the Blue Devils are an NCAA Powerhouse is not only accurate, but they are also basically the definition. And in 2018, that fact was never more true.
Coach Mike Mike Krzyzewski’s 2018-19 Duke Blue Devils are the undisputed number-1 seed in the tournament, and it’s not even close. However, they didn’t start the season at the top of the mountain.
Out of the gate, Duke was setting themselves up for a National Championship run. Their first big test was a matchup with ACC rival and #2- ranked Kentucky in November. The game was nationally televised as Champions Classic, a game that serves as the tip-off for the NCAA Basketball season. The Blue Devils and their three freshmen stars absolutely trounced the Wildcats, 118-84. The World had officially been introduced to the immense talents of Cam Reddish, RJ Barrett, and of course, Zion Williamson.
Since that moment, Duke has reigned supreme, despite waffling among top 5 rankings. The Blue Devils, despite the number preceding them, took their talents to national broadcasts throughout the season and proving to everyone that they were the team to beat. After the kind of destruction left in their wake, it’s no wonder they were given the #1 seed in the Eastern Region of 2019 NCAA tournament.
In the tournament, Duke set out to make a statement early by trouncing North Carolina State by 23 points in their first game. From there on out, however, it would always be a nail biter for the Blue Devils. Against UCF in the next round, Duke took the game by a single point, 77-76. In the Sweet Sixteen, it was the same story, taking down Virginia Tech, this time by two points, 75-73. The time for playing around was over. The Blue Devils needed to make a statement in the Elite Eight.
With a healthy Zion Williamson, both Reddish, and Barrett on fire, Duke was eyeing a championship run. Standing in their way was a Michigan State team that was not expected to stop them.
The 2018-19 Michigan State Spartans did not start the season off on the right foot. Losing their season opener to a top-ranked Kansas team, the Spartans climbed their way from the 10th spot to 6th in the nation. But this Michigan State team was relatively untested, facing only nine ranked teams in the regular season, with an 8-1 record. Despite all of those questions, the Spartans were given the #2 ranking in the Eastern Region. So how would they fare in the tournament?
Extremely well, actually. The Spartans have made it to the Elite 8 by crushing the spirits of their opponents, winning all three of their games by double digits. In order to get to this game, the Spartans beat 3-seed LSU by 17. They are ready for the Blue Devils. They are ready to make history.
And that’s exactly what this game is. It’s a David and Goliath story played on the biggest college basketball stage. History has seen Michigan State triumph before. Can they make it happen again?
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