No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Michigan State set to clash in Chicago
Duke's young standouts will have their first big test when the top-ranked Blue Devils meet No. 2 Michigan State in Tuesday night's Champions Classic.
That's just fine with the Blue Devils.
"That's what we're all here for," said freshman forward Marvin Bagley III, who posted double-doubles in his first two collegiate games. "We want to play under the bright lights. We've just got to make sure we're ready and make sure we're locked in and ready to go."
The teams collide at Chicago's United Center in the first game of a marquee doubleheader, followed by No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 7 Kentucky.
The Spartans also are eager to see how they match up.
"I want to dive right in," Michigan State sophomore swingman Miles Bridges said. "We have been practicing all summer and fall. We want to show everyone what we're capable of. Duke is a great team, and it's going to be a great game."
It will be an introduction to the country of some of these new college stars.
"That will be a big-time game for us," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who notched his 1,000th victory with the Blue Devils on Saturday night.
He is interested to see how a team with four starting freshmen react.
"Not let the moment defeat them," he said. "Let the moment excite them. ... I want them to enjoy the moment, be immersed in the moment. It's a matter of letting them play."
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said the game fits in with his philosophy of setting a rugged early schedule.
"I'm sure players are excited about it and I wouldn't want it any other way," Izzo said.
"It's not just another game. I don't think it's just another game for them either. It's one of the greatest nights of college basketball with those four teams playing."
Duke tuned up with home romps against Elon and Utah Valley as Krzyzewski has now coached a team ranked No. 1 in 225 games. Michigan State blasted visiting North Florida in its opener.
Duke freshman guard Trevon Duval has 20 assists and one turnover across his first two games.
Bridges is a preseason All-American who scored 20 points to go with 10 rebounds in the season opener.
The Spartans also have key newcomers, so the fresh faces won't all be wearing Duke uniforms.
"It's obviously hyped up because of the rankings," Michigan State freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said.
The teams met in a 2015 Final Four game, when Duke won, with then-freshman Grayson Allen making an impact off the bench. Duke won again last year at home in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with Allen scoring a game-high 24 points.
Now, he's a senior, having played in numerous huge games. Allen is the only Duke player to play in last year's Michigan State game.
"You know (the Spartans) are going to be great and it's going to be a great environment up there," Allen said.
Duke leads the series 11-2, winning the past six meetings.
"Some of it's because they played better than us, some of it is because they were better than us and you know they're going to be good every year," Izzo said.
Duke has been in No. 1 vs. No. 2 games six times, with a 3-3 record in those. That includes a 1999 Final Four semifinal conquest of the Spartans.
Michigan State is 1-1 when involved in a game with the top two teams, with the victory four years ago in the Champions Classic against No. 1 Kentucky.
Duke and Michigan State are both 3-3 in Champion Classic games.
Updated November 14, 2017