It was a matchup talked about all week. One man is cerebral, calculated and stuck in his classic ways, the other goes with the cards life deals him, always surprising people and expecting nothing but the best from everyone.
No, not the matchup between Justise Winslow and Branden Dawson, it was actually the star-studded coaching matchup.
Two legendary head coaches went against each other when Duke Blue Devils ‘Coach K’, Mike Krzyzewski, and Michigan State Spartans coach Tom Izzo were poised to have a battle of wits and strategies all night. A potential matchup that had people talking since the Sweet 16 field was set.
Little did Izzo know, his team wasn’t ready for for the three-headed Blue Devil freshman monster in the form of Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow.
Winslow scored 19 points, Okafor added 18 and Tyus Jones scored 9 with senior Quinn Cook dropping 17 to lead top-seeded Duke to an 81-61 victory over seventh seeded Michigan State on Saturday and into yet another title game on Monday night.
It wasn’t such a dominant performance all night though. The Spartans were ahead 14-6 just four minutes into the game, making five of their first seven shots and the first four they took from beyond the 3-point line. Spartans guard Denzel Valentine scored 9 of his 22 points in those first 4 minutes alone, all coming off 3-pointers. Valentine ended the night with a line of 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead Michigan State. Tournament darling Travis Trice ended the game with 16 points and Branden Dawson ended with 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Duke held Michigan State to 40 percent from the field (22-of-55) for the game, but the Spartans were just 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) in the first half, despite the strong start for the Spartans.
The city of Indianapolis is good to Coach K. The Blue Devils won it all in Indianapolis in 1991, their first title under Mike Krzyzewski. The winningest men’s Division I coach, who has a 9-3 record in national semifinal games and now a 10-2 record against Izzo, led them to their fourth and most recent title in 2010 in a classic over Gordon Hayward, coach Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs, also in Indianapolis.
The only issue is, the team they are going up against, the Wisconsin Badgers, well, they’re heading into the title game fresh off a victory against quite possibly the best college team in the last 20 years when the sent the once 38-0 Kentucky Wildcats home earlier than they expected.
A win Monday night would mean a fifth national championship for Krzyzewski, breaking a tie with Kentucky’s legendary coach Adolph Rupp and leaving him behind only the immortal ULCA Bruins coach John Wooden, who won 10.