DURHAM — Duke will take on Michigan State Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla. However, this Final Four matchup is not the first time they have battled it out this season.
In one of their closest games, the Blue Devils beat the Spartans 73-67 in the Great Eight Shootout last December.
Both teams have improved so much as to make that first meeting irrelevant now - except for one thing. There will be no Duke mystique because the Spartans have already proven that they can play with the Blue Devils.
"Michigan State has seen Duke. They have played against us," Duke forward Chris Carrawell said. "There's not going to be that intimidating factor."
Shane Battier grew up watching Michigan State, and rooting for them.
"Knowing basically everyone of their players on the roster and playing them a second time in the Final Four, it's pretty weird," Battier said. "I better win or else I can't go home."
Battier and front court partner Elton Brand know what to expect Saturday; a team that rebounds as well as any team in America.
"They just keep fighting for the ball," Brand said. "They have great athletes that just keep going up, keep fighting for it, keep tipping it around and they are just relentless on the boards."
This is the Spartans' first trip to the Final Four since their championship team with Magic Johnson. This will be Duke's first trip since the days of Grant Hill. It promises to be a matchup fitting of two former champions - one with no surprises.