Thursday, December 2, 2010

Postgame Shootaround: Michigan State vs. Duke

After last night's 31-point virtuoso outing against Michigan State, Kyrie Irving is clearly living up to the hype for Duke. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

In the pregame preview for Michigan State-Duke, I alluded to the fact that this was one matchup that could live up to its "game of the year" hype. Less than 24 hours following the clash at Cameron, I will affirm my belief while providing some reflections from last night's encounter in Durham.

  • #1 in your programs, #1 overall in June.
After last night, there is no doubt in my mind anymore as to how good Duke guard Kyrie Irving really is. The freshman went off for 31 points in the Blue Devils' 84-79 win, scoring 18 in the first half while holding Kalin Lucas scoreless through the first 20 minutes. Irving is more than likely one-and-done, (much to the dismay of Duke fans) and showed that the No. 1 overall pick is his to lose heading into next June's NBA draft.
  • This game was brought to you by the letter "K."
In addition to Irving and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, numerous other "K" men made an impression last night, with Korie Lucious leading the Spartans with 20. Not to be outdone were Kalin Lucas (14) and Duke's Kyle Singler, who had 15.
  • Michigan State's loss does not diminish the Big Ten.
Even though the ACC had the last laugh in the annual challenge between the two conferences, the Big Ten is still the second-strongest league in the country, and could possibly be the best depending on how the Big East ends up when conference play starts at the end of this month. With Ohio State, Purdue, Illinois and Wisconsin all on the Spartans' level, five teams can legitimately call themselves conference champion material.
  • Last night was a "Rocky" game for both teams.
For those unsure of what I mean by this, I'll explain. Both the winner and loser were unhurt by this game in the big picture. In fact, both schools have a lot to gain from their meeting. The Apollo Creed of this matchup (Duke) maintained its undefeated record and No. 1 ranking, but Michigan State (playing the role of Rocky Balboa) gained more credibility from those who thought they would be no match for Duke by playing the reigning national champions to a five-point defeat.
  • Not only "game of the year..."
...but also potential national championship preview. Seeing as how Duke remains the class of the ACC and also how Michigan State consistently turns it up a notch in conference play every year, it wouldn't surprise me to see these two face off again this April in Houston, with the title possibly hanging in the balance.

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