College / Dec 1, 2010 / 12:45 pm

Duke vs. Michigan State: The All-Time Alumni Showdown

J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick

If Kemba Walker hadn’t decided to turn into Tiny Archibald in Maui, tonight’s Duke vs. Michigan State matchup (ESPN, 9:30 p.m. EST) would be a meeting of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation.

Despite their blemished record, No. 6 Michigan State is still considered a Final Four favorite and regarded as the toughest challenge the defending national champion Blue Devils will face in the regular season. Currently, these are the top two teams in college basketball. How do they match up historically? Duke has four national titles to State’s two, and Duke has been in 15 Final Fours to State’s eight. But the Spartans have had one player who trumps anyone the Blue Devils have produced. Who has the edge?

Magic Johnson, PG, 1979 — Carried the Spartans to the ’79 national championship, then went on to become the greatest point guard who’s ever played basketball. Averaged 17.1 points, 7.6 boards and 7.9 assists in college.

Shawn Respert, SG, 1995 — It doesn’t matter if you’re a 6-1 shooting guard when your range extends to 30 feet and you’ve got a magnetic connection to the rim. Respert dropped 25.6 points per game as a senior and was a Lottery pick before a bout with cancer cut his NBA career short.

Steve Smith, PG/SG, 1991 — At 6-7, he can be the third guard or small forward depending on lineups. Twice an All-American at State, Smitty put up 18.5 points, 6.1 boards and 3.7 assists in college before winning a championship ring and making one All-Star appearance in the NBA. He also won gold medals with Team USA at the 2000 Olympics and 1994 World Championship.

Zach Randolph, PF, 2001 — His average stat line in college (10.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg) was about half of what he’ll do on a typical night in the NBA, but Z-Bo helped the Spartans to the Final Four in ’01.

Kevin Willis, C, 1984 — I’ve never been to the Michigan State campus, but I’m assuming the weight room is named after Kevin Willis. The Lex Luger of the NBA covering three different decades was good for 10.1 points and 7.1 boards in three years of college ball.

BenchMorris Peterson (SF, 2000), Mateen Cleaves (PG, 2000), Greg Kelser (PF, 1979), Johnny Green (F/C, 1959), Scott Skiles (PG, 1986), Jay Vincent (F, 1981), Ralph Simpson (SG/SF, 1972).

Johnny Dawkins, PG, 1986 — Graduated as Duke’s all-time leading scorer and won the national Naismith Player of the Year as a senior, when he averaged 20.2 points and made 54.9 percent of his shots from the field as a point guard.

J.J. Redick, SG, 2006 — After he passed Dawkins as the school’s top scorer, Redick went on to claim the ACC’s career scoring title and the NCAA’s career high mark in three-pointers. Arguably the best shooter in college history knocked down 40 percent of his threes while averaging 19.9 points in his career.

Grant Hill, SF, 1994 — Two national championships, two All-American nods, was on his way to a surefire Hall of Fame career as a pro before injuries slowed him down. Hill posted 14.9 points, 6.0 boards, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals at Duke.

Elton Brand, PF, 1999 — Before he was a No. 1 overall draft pick who established himself as a regular 20-and-10 guy in the NBA, Brand won the Wooden and Naismith national P.O.Y. trophies as a sophomore for the Blue Devils. That season he averaged 17.7 points, 9.8 boards and 2.2 blocks and led his team to the national championship game.

Christian Laettner, C/PF, 1992 — Even the biggest Duke hater has to give Laettner credit; he was one of the greatest college players of all-time who simply got it done in clutch situations. In four years Laettner (16.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg) played in four Final Fours and won two national championships and was the star of perhaps the most memorable “One Shining Moment” in NCAA history.

BenchShane Battier (SF, 2001), Bobby Hurley (PG, 1993), Carlos Boozer (PF/C, 2002), Danny Ferry (PF, 1990), Jay Williams (PG, 2002), Mike Gminski (C, 1980), Jon Scheyer (SG, 2010).

Who do you think would win?

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  • kyballer

    Michigan State…too big, too strong at every position of the starting 5…evens out a bit with the bench…but I go with State 77-68

  • kyballer

    Michigan State…too big, too strong at every position of the starting 5…evens out a bit with the bench…but I go with State 77-68…you had Magic’s slow feet by putting him on Brand in the post (he did play some center his Rookie year in the league when Cap was hurt)…Dukies quicker but I believe it would be a 1/2 court game with Magic controlling tempo…

  • Rod

    No love for Maggette or Trajan “The Alaskan Assassin” Langdon?

  • IGP

    I’m surprised that Scheyer got on the bench…there has to be a player in the NBA from Duke that is better than him right now. He might have the potential, but still. Maggette was nasty in college right? Sheldon Williams sucks now but he was a decent big in college.

  • Detroit Dave

    Charlie Bell’s gotta get some love.


    No love for J-Rich either huh?

  • Hucklebuck

    Michigan State.

    Magic and Steve Smith? How about Shannon Brown too?

  • Rep Yo City

    Are you kidding me?

    Duke blows them out and it’s not even close other than the Magic Johnson factor, seriously. In case any of you have never seen a Duke game in the past 25 years of domination they don’t rely on size and have always won without it. They are gonna press the whole game and teams aren’t allowed to play a half court game and give it to their bigs. Nobody on Michigan State can guard johnny dawkins or grant hill, when they double team them JJ Redick never missed a shot inside 50 feet.

    I think that the best 5 off the bench for duke might even win the game against the starters.

    Jay Williams
    Shane Battier
    Trajan Langdon

  • CHSBall

    Word J-rich and shannon brown should definitely be on this list. Why wasn’t this done for the UConn vs. Michigan St. game last week? UConn has produced much better NBA players/talent than the duke garbage on this list. C’mon Jon Scheyer and Danny Ferry???…need I say more. Here’s what UConn’s list would look like:

    PG: Taliek Brown
    SG: Ray Allen
    SF: Rudy Gay
    PF: Emeka Okafor
    C: Hasheem Thabeet (the college one not NBA)

    Bench: Ben Gordon, RIP Hamilton, Rashad Anderson, Denham Brown, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, and last but not least…Jake Voskuhl (for enforcer purposes)

    This team would wreck both Michigan St. and Duke.

  • UncheckedAggression

    I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t pick any PG from Duke over Hurley.

  • showydisplay

    Duke DUH!

  • poop on your blog

    State may be bigger in the back court, however, Duke is far stronger up front with the lineups offered. Laettner and Brand v. Zbo and Kevin Willis is a mismatch.

    They game would really come down to how well Hill/Battier could check Magic. Two of the premiere college wing defenders against possibly the best ever. On the converse, J-Will could score at will against that Stat defense, I dont know that anyone could check him man for man.

  • WestCoastLove

    Kemba Walker the next Tiny Archibald!!! Haha yes! Dude is gonna surprise people and do damage in the league next year

  • http://dimemag.com DukePerfect

    I’d replace Dawkins and Reddick with Hurley and Williams. Dawkins couldn’t run the show like Hurley (still holds NCAA record for assists), and no one was more clutch and a natural scorer than Williams.
    Give me a break on UConn. Doesn’t even deserve to be in the conversation. Duke alums consistently command the highest amount of NBA comp year-to-year (with UNC in second and everyone else far behind), so the UConn talent argument doesn’t fly.

  • WestCoastLove

    Have to agree with the UConn post. Although I think A.J Price and Kemba should probably be on the list. Maybe in place of Anderson, Brown or Voskuhl. Price’s 36 point game against Marquette a couple years back was amazing to watch. He took over that game, not to mention his breaking of Jerel McNeal’s ankles haha. Watch for the 1:45 mark…


    And did this dude really just say Brand and Laetner are stronger than ZBO and Willis? You must have started watching basketball yesterday.

  • hooper5013

    SMH at Jay Williams not being a starter…SMH at Shceyer over Dunleavy…

    SMH at that damn starting lineup for Michigan State! SHIT! Magic with Respert and Shitty Smitty on the wings…Z-Bo High post and K. Willis cutting throats on the low block! It’s a wrap for Duke lol

    That’d be a damn fun team to watch!

  • WhiteMamba

    @ DukePerfect

    First of all your obviously biased and second of all your obviously a dumbass who knows nothing about basketball. UConn has produced more NBA talent in the last 20 years as an elite program than duke has in decades of being an elite program. Duke players suck in the NBA (Laetner), underachieve (Elton Brand), get more credit than they deserve (Battier), or just fall off motorcycles and end their own career (J-will). UConn has the most alumni in the NBA right now along with Duke and UNC. So how does the talent argument not fly again? Name one player from duke who has had as prestigious a career as guys like ray allen or rip hamilton, or as guys like ben gordon, rudy gay and okafor are having now.
    Sounds like someone is still upset that UConn beat Duke on the road to both their championships (championship game 1999) and final four (2004). OWNED….


    @ ^^^^

    HAHAHAHA this nigga just got owned! DUKE SUCKS DICK!

  • jm

    Duke wins this game. Magic is the one you have to worry about obviously – but Grant Hill was a pg his senior year and excellent defender. He had size and length to at least matchup with Magic.

    The other matchups are all in favor of the Blue Devils.

  • jm

    I am a die hard Duke fan but @white mamba has a good argument. I don’t agree that Gay, Okafor, and some of the others are better than let’s say…Boozer, Brand, Maggette, Deng, etc. Those guys have pretty good numbers as well. Okafor certainly hasn’t lived up to the hype.

    But, overall Uconn has put together a string of very good NBA players over the past 2 decades or so. Definitely better than UNC – everyone still hangs their hat on the 80’s UNC alums and a few like Carter, Jamison, and Wallace from the mid to late 90’s. But since the mid 90’s it’s tough to argue with what Uconn has produced. But, I also think Duke is unfairly judged on the NBA players they produced. They have produced some very good NBA players. Ultimately, the only one I would say was a mega star was Grant Hill before his injury. Uconn has Ray Allen. The others are very good…not franchise type players. So, I would say those 2 schools are pretty even…but in the coming years with Kyrie and Austin Rivers that could tip the scale in Duke’s favor.

  • WhiteMamba

    Yea i guess a few of the younger uconn guys were a stretch. I think okafor deserves more credit tho. Hes not a bust and consistently puts up double double numbers. And yea no argument against boozer hes solid and consistent, possibly dukes best alum right now until or if deng ever realizes his potential. Jim is right tho dukes current recruiting classes are pretty amazing. Irving is impressive

  • jm

    White Mamba, don’t get me wrong – I don’t think Okafor is a bust…he has put up solid #’s as a pro. However, remember many people were split as to who the Magic should select in that draft with the top pick…Dwight Howard or Okafor. So he had some very lofty expectations. Hopefully he finds a nice home on the Hornets and continues to build his resume.

  • Ian

    duke for me with hurley as at the 1