Michigan State versus Duke: This IS March Madness

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Michigan State Spartans versus Duke Blue Devils, with a trip to the elite 8 on the line. This IS college basketball. Tom Izzo versus Mike Kryz……Coach K.! Between the two programs you have: 62 NCAA Tournament appearances, 150 NCAA Tournament victories, 23 Final Fours, 7 runner-up finishes and 6 national titles. Time to cue the CBS March Madness theme song.

This game has another built-in storyline with Northwestern hiring a new coach: Duke Blue Devils Assistant Chris Collins, local guy and son of former Chicago Bulls coach Doug Collins. It’s now official. The Minnesota Golden Gophers were after Collins, but they will have to look elsewhere concerning their current coaching vacancy. Regardless, NU fans should be rooting for Michigan State Friday night versus Duke. Not just for Big Ten pride, but to expedite regime change.

Michigan-State

You KNEW this game was going to be in the prime time slot. After MSU Clinched a date with Butler in the 2010 Final Four, I had my picture taken with the Michigan State dance team (yeah, I know, in that picture I was like 50 pounds heavier than I am today). One of the dancers asked me what time the Michigan State game would be the next weekend. I said, it’ll be around 5, because I know they’re going to give the later, prime time tip to Duke. And I was proven right.

And when you have two marquee programs like this, it’ll be a late tip on CBS. And that’s GREAT for Northwestern! They’ll probably mention the Chris Collins hire multiple times during the telecast. You can’t buy program publicity like that. And CBS did brilliant marketing by breaking this story first. Now they can better sell MSU-Duke in Chicago, the nation’s 3rd largest market. Chicago guy (Collins) coaches perhaps his final game under a Chicago born coach (Mike Krzyzewski), before taking over a Chicago program.

The Duke Blue Devils announced Nate James will replace Collin as Asst. Coach.

Last weekend, the Spartans were paced by Derrick Nix’s 23-point, 15-rebound performance in their opening round win over Valparaiso. In the round of 32, Michigan State knocked off sixth-seeded Memphis behind 23 points from Gary Harris and 14 points and 10 boards from Adreian Payne.

Duke (29-5) received a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the sixth straight season and advances to the NCAA Tournament for the 18th consecutive year and 29th time in the past 30 seasons. The Blue Devils have received a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in 15 of the past 17 seasons and 21 times under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

As the top-ranked team in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), Duke’s season resume includes wins over four top-five teams, a 14-4 ACC record and a second-place league finish. The Blue Devils are 11-2 against the NCAA field with wins over No. 1 seed Louisville and No. 2 seeds Miami and Ohio State.

Duke is 98-32 all-time in the tournament with national championships in 1991, 1992, 2001 and 2010. The Blue Devils won the 1991 NCAA Championship as a No. 2 seed and their last three titles as a No. 1 seed. Krzyzewski is the NCAA’s all-time leader in tournament victories, posting a 79-24 record in his 33 seasons at Duke.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an author and regular contributor to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker. Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)

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