Palm: Michigan State Can Give Duke "A Hard Time"

If Duke doesn't reach the Final Four, Tom Izzo could be the reason why

March 21, 2019 - 9:04 am
Tom Izzo Michigan State

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While Duke is favored to win the NCAA Tournament, there’s no guarantee the Blue Devils will even get to the Final Four. Especially with Michigan State potentially looming in the Elite Eight.

“I think Michigan State can give them a hard time,” CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Izzo and Coach K going head-to-head – Coach K has very few times where he’s got a peer on the other side of the floor, and that’ll be one of those games. It’ll be interesting to see if Michigan State does get to play Duke if they can create situations where Duke is relying on three-point shots and free throws, which they don’t do very well.”

Michigan State (28-6) won both the Big Ten regular-season and conference tournament championships. The Spartans also went 3-0 against Michigan, which may have gotten a more manageable path to the Final Four. Michigan would potentially play No. 1 Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.

“Michigan seems to always play above seeds in the NCAA Tournament,” Palm said. “John Beilein is a great tournament coach. I don’t know what he’s doing differently than everybody else, but his teams yearly do not underachieve in the NCAA Tournament.”

If the Wolverines hope to reach Minneapolis, however, they’ll need more scoring from 7-1 center Jon Teske, who averaged 9.6 points this season.

“The offense runs better when Teske is doing well,” Palm said. “He seems to be the key to really making them go. I think that offense really functions at its best when Teske is doing well.”

As for the 5/12 matchups, Palm is picking No. 12 Liberty, No. 12 New Mexico State and No. 12 Murray State to beat Mississippi State, Auburn and Marquette, respectively. He likes No. 5 Wisconsin to beat No. 12 Oregon.

“They’re going to give Wisconsin some troubles,” Palm said of the Pac-12 Tournament champions, “but Ethan Happ is still the best player on the floor in that game. I like Wisconsin to win. That’s the only 5-seed I picked.”