It’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge week! From Monday to Wednesday, the two conferences will play 14 games between each other for bragging rights and profile boosts. The ACC has controlled this series over its existence, holding a 12-5-3 record over the Big Ten, but the Big Ten is 5-2-3 over the last ten years. Two of these conferences’ premier programs will meet on Tuesday in the most high-profile game of this year’s event. Duke and Michigan State are both ranked in the top five, and the Blue Devils and Spartans are both national title contenders.
This marquee matchup will take place on Tuesday, December 3, 2019. Tip-off will be at 9:30 p.m. ET from the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
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No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Michigan State are both ranked in the top five as of Monday morning, but both schools are about to tumble in the polls. The Blue Devils were stunned at home by lowly Stephen F. Austin last Tuesday, losing to the Lumberjacks 85-83 in overtime as Kevon Harris torched Duke’s backcourt for 26 points. Meanwhile, Michigan State already lost to an ACC team last week when Landers Nolley II led Virginia Tech past the Spartans in the Maui Invitational.
Michigan State entered the season as the favorites to win the national championship, but the Spartans have been somewhat disappointing. They began the year with a loss to Kentucky at the Champions Classic, and the defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech was a stunner. However, Michigan State has racked up nice wins on the road against Seton Hall and on a neutral court over both Georgia and UCLA. Tom Izzo loves to test his team in the first month of the year so that the rigors of the Big Ten schedule don’t surprise his players.
The Blue Devils had been the No. 1 team in the nation as a result of their victory over Kansas in the Champions Classic. Duke withstood some slight tests after that win, outlasting Georgia State and Georgetown, but no one expected this team to lose at home to a non-power team. SFA proved that they were more than ready to face Duke though, and the Lumberjacks made the most of their moment.
Duke won’t have Cassius Stanley for at least another game due to an unspecified leg injury. It appears that Stanley’s left knee is the issue, and reports indicate that he could be sidelined until 2020 as a result of the problem. That’s a big blow for the Blue Devils, as this team expected Stanley to come in and fill a lot of holes, and he was averaging 27 minutes a game with 12.9 PPG before the injury.
Forward Joey Hauser was declared ineligible before the start of the year, and Joshua Langford has yet to take the court this season due to continued foot and ankle issues. Langford was supposed to be a huge part of Izzo’s plans, and his absence has been felt.
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Cassius Winston is Michigan State’s leading scorer. He has had a solid year thus far, providing excellent leadership while scoring 17.0 PPG, but he is turning the ball over too often, and his shooting percentage is down. That could be because of the schedule, or it could be because he is forcing too much, but he needs to play more controlled.
Not having Stanley will hurt Duke in a big way here. The Blue Devils don’t have another player that looks as comfortable with the rock, so look for Michigan State to pull out a big win at home.
CBB Betting Odds: Michigan State 73, Duke 68
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