Three storylines to watch for when Duke basketball hosts Michigan State

Duke basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Three factors may determine whether Duke basketball defeats Michigan State.

The 2020 Champions Classic on Tuesday night, featuring four teams inside the latest AP Top 25 Poll, will be nothing like we have ever seen before. The two games — No. 6 Duke basketball against No. 8 Michigan State at 7:30 p.m. and No. 20 Kentucky against No. 7 Kansas at 9:30 p.m. — are in entirely different locations.

Also, for the first time ever, one of the games will be played on campus, as the Blue Devils play host to the Spartans. Nonetheless, both games are still on ESPN, and we as fans cannot complain.

The Champions Classic is one of the best early-season events in college basketball. While this year’s event is far from the norm, the matchups should provide us with plenty of fireworks and storylines. Three storylines, in particular, are worth keeping a close eye on when Duke hosts Michigan State. Let’s look at each…

Duke basketball vs. Michigan State: Who can win the turnover battle?

In its first game of the season on Saturday, an 81-71 home win over Coppin State, Duke struggled mightily with turnovers. The Blue Devils turned the ball over 22 times. If they have a repeat performance on Tuesday, they will have no shot of beating an excellent team like Michigan State. The Spartans, meanwhile, have turned the ball over 30 times across two games, both wins.

Both squads are still figuring out their point guard position. We saw both Jordan Goldwire and Jeremy Roach be primary ballhandlers for Duke on Saturday, and both struggled to take care of the ball. Michigan State has gone back and forth between Rocket Watts and Foster Loyer. Whoever can win the point guard battle could determine who wins the game.

Similar to Duke, Michigan State has a fairly inexperienced roster. So turnovers could plague both sides. The Blue Devils will need a big defensive performance from their guards. If Goldwire and Roach can disrupt the Spartans’ ballhandlers, it could lead to some easy points in transition.

Turnovers that lead to points often result in momentum shifts. In a marquee game like this between teams that are evenly matched, one swing in momentum could be all the difference.

I expect this to be a tight game. If so, it will be interesting to see how the Blue Devils handle a late-game scenario where one or two possessions could determine the outcome of the game. It is still an unknown as to who Duke’s go-to guy would be down the stretch…