On Selection Sunday, when the NCAA tournament bracket was unveiled for the world to see.
There weren’t many complaints about the bracket itself, but just about everyone seemed to have a problem with the way that Michigan State was bracketed. The Spartans, the Big Ten regular season and tournament champions, were slotted into the No. 2 seed in the East Region, on a collision course with Duke in the Elite Eight.
That was, many believed, completely unfair.
And they were right.
Duke was the No. 1 overall seed and did not deserve to be forced to play the juggernaut that is Tom Izzo’s Spartans for the right to get to the Final Four.
Cassius Winston scored 20 points and added 10 assists in the final game of the Elite Eight on Sunday night as No. 2 seed Michigan State beat No. 1 seed Duke, 68-67, to get to the Final Four.
The winning bucket came courtesy of Kenny Goins, a fifth-year senior and former walk-on that entered the year having shot just 15 threes in his career. With 43 seconds left, Tom Izzo called a timeout, down 66-65, and drew up a play to get Goins coming off of a pindown for a three.
And he buried it:
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 31, 2019
The Spartans won despite giving up 24 points and 14 boards to Zion Williamson. This is just the second win against Mike Krzyzewski that Tom Izzo has landed in his illustrious coaching career.
It might also go down as his most memorable win that did not come in a national title game.
This Duke team was a juggernaut all season long, a group that had the eyes of everyone thanks to the biggest brand we’ve ever seen come through the collegiate ranks in Williamson. They were the No. 1 overall seed. They were the favorite to win the national title everywhere after their 118-84 humiliation of Kentucky on the first day of the regular season. They will send three players into the top five of the 2019 NBA Draft, and that doesn’t include Tre Jones, who might sneak his way into the back-end of the lottery if all goes well for him.
Duke is and was always going to be the story.
And they came up short of the Final Four thanks to this Michigan Stte team.
Xavier Tillman finished with 19 points and nine boards, doing as good of a job on Williamson as you can do against a player that finished with 24 points and 14 boards.
R.J. Barrett finished with 21 points, six boards and six assists for Duke, who finished the season with a 32-6 record and nothing but an ACC tournament title to show for the season.