Michigan St., Duke should be a battle

Originally Published: March 24, 2005
By Fran Fraschilla | Special to ESPN Insider
No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Duke
7:10 p.m. ET

The confidence from taking Duke to the wire at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the Big 10-ACC Challenge should come in handy for Michigan State in this rematch. Duke prevailed 81-74 in a very physical game in which 51 fouls were called and 56 free throws were shot.

Michigan State is a more complete team than they were back in December now that freshman Drew Neitzel has elevated his game. The Spartans are 8-2 since coach Tom Izzo inserted him into the starting lineup. Nietzel's playmaking allows Chris Hill to move back to the two-guard spot where he has knocked down 59 three-pointers this season. Neitzel only had one assist and no points in ten minutes of play against Duke in December. How he reacts to the pressures of the Sweet 16, especially versus Sean Dockery and Daniel Ewing, will be a key to this game.

Fran Fraschilla is a college basketball analyst for ESPN. He formerly was the head coach at Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico.