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LSJ columnist Graham Couch, Freep-Beatwriter Chris Solari and Freep columnist Shawn Windsor break MSU's Sweet 16 win
19459019] Graham Couch and Chris Solari and Shawn Windsor, Lansing State Journal

WASHINGTON – They wanted that. That's why they came to Michigan State.

To get to a Final Four A chance to win Tom Izzo's second national title.

to shape your name among the elite.

"It means everything," said senior captain Matt McQuaid. "That's a big goal for us. We always want to achieve that. These are the expectations here – championships. "

Cassius Winston of Michigan State celebrates 80-63 victory over the LSU at the NCAA tournament on Friday, March 29, 2019 in Washington. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

No. 2-seed MSU used a flock of big runs, hot shooting, strong rebound and physical defense to turn off the # 3 LSU with LSO knockout, 80-63, on Friday night . It's Izzo's 10th Elite Eight appearance in 24 seasons and a chance for his eighth Final Four.

"If you're a coach, there's no better time than playing, with so many teams left and eight teams left at the time we play," Izzo said. "That's what I live for, I dream of it."

Next for Izzo is the coach and the team he sees in his nightmares.

To stand in the way of the Spartans (31-6) is their ancient Nemeses: Mike Krzyzewski and no. 1 seed Duke (32-5). As well as the best player in college basketball, freshman Phenom Zion Williamson. Tipoff is 5:05 pm. Sunday at the Capital One Arena (CBS).

"Michigan State is similar to Duke. They have a successful history, "said Williamson, who had 23 points and six rebounds in the 75-73 escape of the 4-seed Virginia Tech Blue Devils in Friday's late play. "It will be a great game. We just have to go out and compete with each other.

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Krzyzewski said he has only "watched the Spartans a little bit," but knows two things his team does must: Bounce off the ball and stop MSU junior point guard Cassius Winston.

Are you trying to figure out how to protect Cassius? … Of course I know that Cassius Winston is the best pointkeeper in the country. He is MVP of the Big Ten, "said Krzyzewski. "And Tom's program – a program of great offensive rebounding, tenacity, togetherness, we'll try to put something together."

The most time-winning coach in Division I history knows when, too, something MSU.

Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo speaks in Washington on Friday, March 29, 2019, with his players during a crash in MSU's 80-63 win against LSU at the NCAA tournament. [Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press]

Krzyzewski are 11-1 against Izzo, including a 4-1 win in the NCAA tournament. The only victory for the Spartans in this stage came in the Sweet 16 of 2005, on the way to the fourth Final Four of Izzo. The Blue Devils eliminated MSU in the Final Four 2015 on their way to their last of five national titles under Krzyzewski.

Kenny Goins is the only remaining Spartan from this team, but Duke also beat the MSU veterans twice in each of them The last two seasons – 78-69 at the Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 29, 2016 and 88- 81 on November 14, 2017 in the Champions Classic.

Krzyzewski's 12 Final Vours are associated with John Wooden for most in NCAA history. Izzo's seven are in fifth and three under the active coaches, two behind North Carolina coach Roy Williams & # 39; s nine.

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"Tom did a great job with this team because they had injuries," Krzyzewski said. "And he is one of the great coaches and a good friend. … It's an honor to be in the Elite Eight, and it's going to be a real game.

When the Spartans stepped out of the arena to their bus near the halfway point of the Duke Virginia Tech game, the Blue Devils were trailing. They caught a glimpse of how the Hokies defeated Duke this season – a win of 77-72 on February 26 in Blacksburg, Virginia, without Williamson – and they almost made it back in Sweet 16.

The blue devils could not prevail Two games with missed shots from opposing players for a 77-76 win over Central Florida when two layups were rolled off the rim, and then Friday's win over the Hokies as Ahmed Hill's catch-and-shoot failed near the basket attempt.

Duke played on Friday without Cam Reddish, his other star striker, who came too late with a knee problem. Krzyzewski did not say if Reddish – a planned NBA lottery – would be available against MSU on Sunday. The 6-foot-8 striker started in all of the 35 games he played this season, averaging 13.6 points and 3.7 rebounds. He missed a game because of illness.

But the 6-7, 286-pound Williamson, who missed five games with his own knee injury in late February and early March, continued his dominant game in the winter likely to be his only season with the Blue Devils. He has an average of 26.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in three NCAA games and 22.6 points and 8.7 boards in 32 games.

"I can not allow myself or my teammates to miss Michigan State because they have a story like Duke." Said Williamson. "They are a great team so I can not think about that as we win a Final Four victory. I could imagine focusing on Michigan State and those 40 minutes.

Without Reddish, Krzyzewski only used six players against the Hokies in the first place, with Williamson and the 6-2 freshman Guard Tre Jones (22 points) playing all 40 striker RJ Barrett and guard Alex O'Connell MSU also took advantage of four starters for more than 31 minutes and McQuaid struggled a bit more than 25 against LSU, with four players in the double-digit range, including a career-high 20 in the Spartans Aaron Henry, 17 from Winston and one season winner from Gabe Brown.

I just generally thought it was a very team-oriented victory, "said Izzo," and it will be fun to move forward, I think they learn how I did that to them.

"It's kind of fun because we still brought some former people here. You know it. I saw Andre Hutson and coined the phrase, "To be the best, you have to beat the best." I do not know who we will play, but we have a lot of work to do.

MSU He has received 22 assists for 31 manufactured baskets, beating the bigger tigers on the boards, 41-34.

Williamson says, "You may not get the prominence I suspect, but we have great players They play their roles and perform them, as you can see against the LSU they have executed. "

Is this time different from Duke's with so much more at stake?

Goins believes The Spartans Believe Heads need to stay focused at the moment and not deal with concerns about the Final Four.

"They process it like another game," said the Senior, "We're doing the same thing for almost two months now. That is, if you lose, you go home, and all the boys understand that – newbies, students, juniors, and me and McQuaid, obviously.

"We just have to keep preparing as we've been doing for two months." [19659005] Contact Chris Solari at csolari @ freepress. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari . Read more about Michigan State Spartans and subscribe to our Spartans newsletter.