Michigan State Basketball: 5 takeaways from Final Four-clinching win over Duke

Cassius Winston, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Cassius Winston, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
1 of 5

Duke and Michigan State basketball battled back and forth for a trip to the Final Four and the Spartans came out on top. What’d we learn?

The entire world was picking Duke to beat Michigan State for a trip to the Final Four on Sunday afternoon, except for those fans residing in East Lansing.

Michigan State didn’t quite have the talent or depth to match up with Duke, but the Spartans had all the heart and desire. Sometimes it’s that as well as veteran leadership that leads teams to victory and it helped the Spartans sneak past the Blue Devils with a 68-67 win, heading back to the Final Four for the first time in three seasons.

This team is special, and the players have bought in. Tom Izzo has these guys playing at a high level and they’re only two wins away from winning the national title for the third time in school history — and the Hall of Fame head coach’s second.

What did we learn from the win over Duke on Sunday?

5. Michigan State must rebound better moving forward

To this point in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan State had been rebounding the ball well. The Spartans held advantages over Bradley, Minnesota and LSU and looked to be heading toward another solid game on the glass against Duke in the first few minutes with four early offensive boards.

That didn’t stick.

Duke was able to dominate on the glass in the final 30 minutes, or so, of the game to win the battle, 42-31. Sure, a lot of it was Zion Williamson grabbing his own misses and finishing with 14 of his own, but the Spartans let Javin DeLaurier do whatever he wanted on the glass, too.

Xavier Tillman, Nick Ward, Aaron Henry and Kenny Goins need to get together this week and make sure a performance like this doesn’t happen again because the next time it does, the Spartans won’t be so lucky.