Two teams with plenty of NCAA Tournament success square off in this year's Sweet 16, as the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils and third-seeded Michigan State Spartans meet on Friday in the Midwest Regional semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
This marks the 37th NCAA Tournament appearance for Duke, which boasts of a 98-32 all-time record in the event, including an 81-24 mark under Mike Krzyzewski, the most tournament wins by any coach in Division I history. With tournament wins this year over Albany (73-61) and Creighton (66-50) in Midwest regional action in Philadelphia last week, Duke is one win shy of the 13th 30- win campaign in school history, all under Coach K. The win over the Bluejays in the third round was also the 2,000th in program history, making Duke one of just four schools to reach that win total, joining Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina.
Tom Izzo's Spartans are making their fifth trip to the Sweet 16 in the last six seasons. Behind strong defense, MSU made light work of the competition in the first two games of this event, topping both Valparaiso (65-54) and Memphis (70-48) to improve to 56-25 all-time. Michigan State is making its 27th appearance in the Big Dance and its 16th straight.
Both these teams have had plenty of success in Indianapolis, with MSU 7-1 in tournament games in the city, while Duke is 6-1, including national titles in both 1991 and 2010.
Duke is 7-2 all-time against Michigan State, including Coach K's NCAA record- breaking 903rd win in Madison Square Garden in the last meeting.
The winner of this game will take on either Oregon or Louisville in the Midwest Regional Final.
Michigan State completely dominated Memphis in the third round as it shot 50 percent from the floor and limited the Tigers to 29.7 percent efficiency in a wire-to-wire victory. Gary Harris got to work early on in the tilt as he tallied 16 of his career-high 23 points in the opening 20 minutes, while Adreian Payne posted a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards. Payne also swatted five shots. Michigan State has been getting it done at both ends of the court this season, scoring nearly 70 ppg, while allowing fewer than 60. The Spartans are led by standout performers Keith Appling (13.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.7 apg) and Harris (12.9 ppg, .413 3-point FG percentage), the latter of which was tabbed as the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year. Payne (10.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg) rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers.
Duke will put the Spartan defense to the test with explosive and balanced scoring. The team has a dynamic inside/out combination in guard Seth Curry (17.3 ppg, .426 from 3-point range) and forward Mason Plumlee (17.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg). The scoring depth continues with perimeter threats Ryan Kelly (13.3 ppg. .459 from 3-point range), Quinn Cook (12.0 ppg, .401 from 3-point range) and Rasheed Sulaimon (11.7 ppg). Cook also serves as the team's primary facilitator, dishing out 5.4 apg. Overall, Duke comes in averaging 77.8 ppg, doing so on .477 shooting overall, including .403 from 3-point range. It was Sulaimon who led the way against Creighton, as the freshman finished with a team-high 21 points. Curry poured in 17 points, while Plumlee was held in check, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds.