INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTVD) -- I'll get this out of the way right away. Duke will beat Michigan State tonight. For all the success the Spartans have had so far in the tournament, there's just no way they have the horses to hang with the Blue Devils. I know I know, Mike Krzyzewski will vehemently disagree with me on this front, but Duke's talent at every spot on the floor is superior. In some cases -- looking at you Jah -- vastly superior.
All that said, the Spartans are here for a reason. They weren't a particularly adept defensive team during the regular season, but have tightened the screws in the tournament. Their four opponents thus far (Virginia included) have made fewer than 35 percent of their shots overall and barely over 20 percent from three. Travis Trice has been excellent, dropping 20 points per game. Branden Dawson is a supreme athlete and Denzel Valentine is a nice jack of all trades guy. It goes without saying that Tom Izzo knows what he's doing.
Still, Duke is just too good. Evidence of that arrived in many forms in Houston. With Jahlil Okafor muted, Justise Winslow raised his game. When Gonzaga decided to take their chances with Matt Jones, he responded by burying 4 threes. The Devils have endless options on offense. Top shelf players that will soon be making millions in the NBA. If Duke is operating at anywhere near their normal efficiency, Sparty can't hang.
The match-up I'm most excited to watch is Winslow vs Dawson. These are two next level athletic talents. Winslow is far more polished, but Dawson's experience and physical capabilities should combine to make it an excellent showdown.
As for Trice, I'd imagine Quinn Cook gets the defensive call. He said yesterday his goal is to be 'annoying.' Being shorter makes him a nuisance, he said, because he's able to get low and bother opposing dribblers. Trice probably gets into double figures, but I can't see him hitting his tournament average. Just ask Utah's Delon Wright or Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos if you need references.
My guess at a final score: 75-61. Okafor busts out with a big game, and Tyus Jones embraces the big stage like he's been doing all year.