Duke and Michigan State enter the Champions Classic in strange positions.
After all, either the Blue Devils or Spartans will have a second loss this early in the season.
But it’s still a high-stakes matchup when No. 2 Duke and No. 4 Michigan State gather for Tuesday night’s game in Chicago.
“I love these kind of games,” Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach said. “These are the games I work for.”
The rankings for these teams will take a dip when the new poll comes out, but it’s still a major measuring stick.
Duke (1-1) will try to make adjustments following Friday night’s 78-73 home loss to No. 12 Arizona.
“We have to move on quickly,” Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer said. “We knew, no matter what, with this schedule we have win or lose, you have to move on quickly. And Michigan State …. you’re going to see a hungry team and I felt going into the year, they could be as good as anybody, and I still feel that way.”
Michigan State (1-1) recovered from its opening loss to James Madison by thumping Southern Indiana 74-51 on Thursday night.
The Spartans have had rough perimeter shooting, combining to go 2-for-31 on 3-pointers in the first two games.
Tyson Walker has been Michigan State’s leading scorer in both games this season despite dealing with discomfort.
“He has been cramping up,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “He has been having a little bit of problems with shin splints.”
Michigan State forward Malik Hall could be rounding into form. After a rough opener, he had 12 points in the Southern Indiana game.
“He’s where he wants to be physically and I think he’s where he wants to be mentally,” Izzo said. “I think it’s just going to take a little time to get him back (after foot surgery).”
There’s various ways Duke could go after the first home loss under Scheyer, who’s in his second season as head coach after the retirement of Mike Krzyzewski.
“As long as I’m coaching and as long as I’m competing, I will always hate losing,” Scheyer said. “That’s me as a competitor. But I also know that I’m thankful for this opportunity.”
Scheyer wants the Blue Devils to be more attentive defensively.
“It’s all about effort. It’s all about mindset,” he said. “And again, I think it shows that we’re thinking about offense. And we have to flip that.”
Duke is more experienced than some past renditions, but the Blue Devils are still breaking in newcomers. Tuesday night will be the first game away from home, so the Arizona game was just a sample of a big-time atmosphere.
“It definitely gives our freshmen a taste of what’s to come,” sophomore forward Kyle Filipowski said. “No matter how much we say it, there’s no better way to see it than when you go through it.”
Since Duke’s 2017 victory in the Champions Classic in Chicago, the Blue Devils and Spartans have alternated wins in the past four meetings. Duke won the most recent clash in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Kansas and Kentucky meet in Tuesday’s nightcap of the Champions Classic.
–Field Level Media
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