Michigan State has canceled all sports activities as our community deals with the COVID-19 crisis. In a time when sports have ceased, The State News is looking back at great moments in Michigan State sports history. Soon, we’ll be back to a world with sports, but for now, the past will have to do.
Today, we’ll be looking at the 2019 Elite Eight basketball game between No. 2-seed Michigan State and No. 1-seeded Duke.
We'll be compiling these moments into a bracket with the MSU community voting on the best one, starting on April 1, via Twitter.
Date: March 31, 2019.
Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
Matchup: No. 2-seeded Michigan State vs. No. 1-seeded Duke.
The background: Last Sunday would’ve been Selection Sunday, the Spartans were on pace for a three-seed or higher, dependent on the Big Ten Tournament that was canceled. Hopes were high for a Spartan team led by senior Cassius Winston. It may go down as one of the biggest what-ifs in Spartan history.
But Winston and his senior class didn’t go down without leaving their mark in history. Last year’s Elite Eight made sure of that.
Last year around this time, the Spartans, fresh off a Big Ten regular season championship and a Big Ten Tournament championship, had hopes of a No.1-seed bid heading into the NCAA Tournament.
Instead, the Spartans were placed as a two-seed, in the same bracket as what most called the best team in the country.
The Duke Blue Devils.
Duke was led by freshman forward Zion Williamson, a household name in sports since his high school years and future No. 1 draft pick to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Accompanying Williamson were two other freshman lottery picks, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish and freshman guard Tre Jones, who dismantled Michigan State at the Breslin Center the next season.
It was a bad draw for the Spartans, but they couldn’t be counted out.