The top-seeded Blue Devils will take on No. 2 seed Michigan State Sunday at 5:05 p.m. in an Elite Eight matchup, having narrowly survived its Sweet 16 contest against Texas Tech.The Blue Zone gives you three keys on how the Blue Devils can clinch a spot in the Final Four:
Jump out to an early lead
Duke has recently shown the true essence of March Madness, winning its past two games by just one possession.
In their round of 32 game against Central Florida, the Blue Devils were up against 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall and struggled to get past the literal obstacle. The ghosts of March Madness past interfered at just the right time, as Fall fouled out in the last fourteen seconds and R.J. Barrett fought for a layup, putting Duke up and the Knights missed their final shot.
As if one night of raised blood pressure wasn’t enough, the Blue Devils pulled off a second close win last night against Virginia Tech. The Hokies went for multiple shots in the final seconds that all barely missed.
The streak of tight finishes in tournament games must end now. Not only is this incredibly stressful for fans, but it’s just not healthy to put the loved and cherished 72-year-old Coach K in this state of mind. Duke has been lucky not once, but twice, and the Blue Devils need to step it up in order to come home with a ring.
Little room for error
Michigan State has been thriving in the tournament so far, winning each of its games by double digits. The Blue Devils are up for a battle against the Big 10 tournament winners, and have to keep their mistakes to a minimum.
Duke ended last night’s game with mistakes that they were able to shy away from for much of the season, but the Spartans will make the Blue Devils pay more than Virginia Tech. After committing 12 turnovers against the Hokies, Duke will have to get a better hold on the ball to dominate the court against the Spartans. The Blue Devils also left something to be desired from beyond the arc, and its most prolific shooter, Cam Reddish, is a game-time decision against Michigan State.
Although Tre Jones has proven himself to be a top point guard in the nation all season, he truly showed a different aspect of his game Friday night. Jones pulled through for his team with Reddish down, and hit five of the team’s six 3-point shots. Throughout the season, Jones wasn’t really the person to think of when the team needed to lay down some shots from deep, but Jones shined against the Spartans.
Jones’ stellar performance in the game makes it hard not to compare him to his older brother, Tyus Jones, who played a huge part in Duke’s 2015 tournament win. Tyus Jones had an incredible tournament season, and Tre Jones seems to be following this same path. With tough competition, Tre Jones will need to replicate his successful performance so that Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett don’t have to carry the weight of putting up points.
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