Blog: Senior showdown headlines Duke vs. Michigan State

(WTVD)

Finally, the day of the big game is here. Duke and Michigan State start off the action in the first game of the night, followed by Wisconsin and Kentucky.

For the Blue Devils, it's the team's first Final Four appearance since 2010, and they do not want to disappoint. On the other side of the court sits a Michigan State team that has transformed since its November 18th loss against Duke

We can talk X's and O's, but one big storyline from this game plays an important role in the result -- the senior showdown.

Both Michigan State and Duke boast a star senior that has been instrumental in helping their respective teams get to this point. For Duke, Quinn Cook has been the heart and soul of this team in a leadership position. Multiple Spartans players have mentioned that Cook is the "X-factor" in tonight's match-up, and he led Duke with 19 points the first time these two teams met this season. Defensively, Cook also makes a difference. Before Indianapolis, Coach K mentioned that the senior is the team's best on-ball defender, by far, despite his small stature.

For the Spartans, their engine is powered by Travis Trice. When Izzo moved the senior from his on-the-ball duties during the year, Trice began to really click. He's scored 20 points or more in 11 games this season and averages a team-high 15.3 ppg for Michigan State. Krzyzewski has said that he thinks Trice is the best player in the tournament, so look for this backcourt battle to be a good one.

Duke and Michigan State square off Saturday night at 6:09 p.m.

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