Monday, March 25, 2013

Sweet Sixteen bound

Well don't I look silly worrying about a Valpo upset. Michigan State dispatched the Crusaders without any trouble and then, despite a whopping 18 turnovers, thoroughly dismantled Memphis in one of the best defensive performances the Spartans have had all season.

I want to write more in here: about CBS' coverage, the Cinderella victories of Florida Gulf Coast and LaSalle, the blown calls in some of these games, and MSU's next opponent--the hated Duke Blue Devils. If I can make it to a computer, and have some time, I'll write more soon.


Amazingly, I found a moment when a computer was free here at home and I'm back.

Do I really hate Duke? I have tremendous respect for Coach K and his program. Maybe it's not so much Duke I hate as the constant adulation the program receives, but when you get down to it, the ubiquitous media fawning is deserved. Before Coach K arrived in Durham in 1980, Duke had a good--if not great--program. Krzyzewski elevated the program to heights it had never seen before, much as Tom Izzo has done at Michigan State.

Duke has presented the one obstacle that MSU's program has had difficulty crossing. In seven head-to-head match ups, Izzo's Spartans have only won once (2005 Sweet Sixteen featuring Mo Ager's oft-YouTubed in-your-face-disgrace dunk on J.J. Reddick). Most of the games between Duke and MSU have been close, with the only blowout I can remember coming in the 2003-2004 season when the Blue Devils hammered the Spartans at Breslin Center. (For what it's worth, that game has to rank as one of the most disappointing home games in MSU history, and a game that--in my opinion--haunted that MSU team all season).

Then there's the Jabari Parker situation. In a hotly contested recruiting battle, Jabari Parker chose Duke over Michigan State. That Duke brand is still a tough one to beat, and I know many MSU fans would like nothing more than to beat Duke as vengeance for losing the battle for Parker.

Duke is the gold standard of college basketball, and Coach K is arguably the greatest college basketball coach of all time. Yes, I know many would argue in favor of John Wooden, and a valid argument can be made for the Wizard of Westwood, but college basketball wasn't nearly as competitive in Wooden's era as it has been in Coach K's tenure. What Krzyzewski has done at Duke over the last 33 years is more impressive in an era in which there are so many more good programs and great coaches.

It'd be an outstanding accomplishment, and another feather in Tom Izzo's already well-decorated cap, to beat Duke this year and move on to the Elite Eight.

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