Michigan State Basketball: Staff score predictions vs. Duke in Week 2

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Miles Bridges
DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Miles Bridges /

Michigan State basketball gets its first tough test of the season on Tuesday night in the Champions Classic. Who comes out on top?

It’s that time of year when tough losses by the football team can be made up for by big wins from Michigan State basketball. The Spartan football team lost to Ohio State on Saturday and now the basketball squad gets to play the No. 1 team in the country to take fans’ minds off that defeat.

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Beating Duke isn’t something Tom Izzo has been able to do much throughout his career. In fact, the last time it happened was in the 2005 NCAA Tournament, and the head coach is ready to change that. He has the talent assembled to lead him past the No. 1 Blue Devils.

Here’s what our staff believes the outcome will be.

Connor Muldowney: There’s a reason Miles Bridges came back for his sophomore year, and it was to win games like this. On paper, Duke is the most talented team in the country, but the Spartans have just slightly more experience. That will drive them over the top in this one as the Blue Devils won’t be able to hang on to a tight lead late. Josh Langford hits a big 3-pointer with a couple minutes left to give the Spartans the lead for good.

Final Score: Michigan State 77, Duke 70

Adam Zdroik: Duke is skilled, but I’m not going to trust the freshmen just yet. This is Nick Ward’s game to go off in (and get some rebounds) after getting into foul trouble in the classic last year.

Final Score: Michigan State 83, Duke 75

Stephen Robb: This is a classic early-season matchup that will be a measuring rod for what MSU can be. Two of the best coaches in college basketball go at each other. Duke has a young, talented team as well. This is a game where stars take over. Watch for Miles Bridges to lead Sparty over Grayson Allen and the Blue Devils.

Final Score: Michigan State 82, Duke 79

Michael Briggs: Another year, another big opportunity for Michigan State against Duke. The Blue Devils have given the Spartans fits under Tom Izzo, securing a 10-1 advantage in the head-to-head match-up, including six straight wins. For years, we’ve watched MSU lose early non-conference games to elite teams, find its way throughout the season and peak in the NCAA Tournament. It’s certainly a winning formula, but it sure would be nice to see the Spartans pull of a big non-conference victory like they did in this tournament against Kansas in 2015.

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The Spartans certainly have an advantage in experience, as the Dukies are one of the youngest squads in the country. This is also only the third game most of Duke’s players have played together, which works in Michigan State’s favor. I expect a good game, but MSU has too much working in its favor to lose.

Final Score: Michigan State 80, Duke 73