Krzyzewski owns 8-1 lifetime record vs. Izzo
Syracuse, N.Y. — The goal of reaching the Final Four has been attained. Building off that will be the next great challenge for Tom Izzo and Michigan State.
The Spartans dispatched Louisville, 76-70, in overtime of the East Region final on Sunday at the Carrier Dome and now they advance to the Final Four to take on Duke, the top-seeded team in the South.
The game will tip off at 6:09 p.m. Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Blue Devils are already listed as a five-point favorite.
Duke has gotten the better of Michigan State with coach Mike Krzyzewski, carrying an 8-1 record against Izzo, including an 81-71 victory at the Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in the Spartans' second game of the season.
But that one win for Izzo came in the NCAA Tournament — a 78-68 victory in the Sweet 16 in 2005 when Duke was the No. 1 seed and Michigan State was a No. 5. The Spartans followed that with a win over No. 2 Kentucky to earn a spot in the Final Four.
"Mike and I have had a lot of battles," Izzo said before the outcome of the Duke-Gonzaga game was known. "He's really going to enjoy it because he's won, I think, nine of them, and I think I've won one. So that's tough."
The last time Duke and Michigan State played in the Final Four, the Blue Devils beat the Spartans, 68-62, in 1999. The teams met in the Sweet 16 in 2013 with Duke pulling out a 71-61 victory.
But the Spartans have been knocking off higher seeded teams for the past three games, beating No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Louisville.
"And to me, (No. 10 seed) Georgia was a very good team, just as worthy as those other three," Izzo said of Michigan State's first win in the tournament. "So we got here the hard way. We earned our way here. I'm not going to apologize for that in any way, shape, or form."
Duke has plenty of talent, including two players Izzo recruited hard. Freshman Jahlil Okafor is averaging 17.7 points and 8.7 rebounds a game and is a candidate for player of the year. Fellow freshman Tyus Jones scores 11.5 points and hands out 5.7 assists a game.
They're joined by senior Quinn Cook and fellow freshman Justise Winslow, who scored 16 points in Duke's 66-52 win over Gonzaga on Sunday.
But the Spartans are confident their difficult non-conference schedule — one that included games against Duke, Kansas and Notre Dame — has prepared them for this moment.
"We've been in close games," senior Branden Dawson said. "We can play with any team in the country."