Izzo and Coach K's Masterpieces From WhatIfSports.com image

Where do their 2010 Masterpieces Rank?

The 2010 Spartans and Devils fall short
By Ryan Fowler, WhatIfSports.com
March 31st, 2010

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Head coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo may want to think about investing in Houston, Texas real estate. The landlords of Cameron Indoor Stadium and the Breslin Center already own property on the final four lines of the NCAA college basketball bracket and the 2011 NCAA Final Four is heading to the Lonestar State.

Since 1986, Coach K has led Duke to the NCAA Final Four eleven times, tied for second most in history behind John Wooden. Coach Izzo was named head coach at Michigan State in 1995 and over the past eleven years has pushed his team to the Final Four six times. Coach Izzo has only missed college basketball's final weekend five times since 1999. And you think he wants to go to Oregon?

With a stroke, or should I say strokes, of genius come pre-season, in-season, post-season, these two coaches have consistently created evolving pieces of art on the court.

However, if their March Madness masterpieces from the past were canvas originals, the 2010 editions might be paint-by-number reproductions.

This year's Blue Devils and Spartans struggle to compete with their coaches' top tournament teams.

Coach K's National Champions vs 2010 Devils
TeamWin%Avg Score
2000-01 Duke Blue Devils94.799.1
1991-92 Duke Blue Devils50.794.2
1990-91 Duke Blue Devils29.491.2
2009-10 Duke Blue Devils25.285.9
Coach K

As we learned in Whatifsports.com's NCAA Teams of the Decade article, the 2000-01 national champion Duke Blue Devils were loaded. With no mercy for Coach K's back-to-back title teams from the early 1990s, Williams, Duhon, Battier and company rolled over their fellow Devils nearly 95-percent of the time based on a 51-game round-robin tournament.

Few basketball fans and basketball experts expected Duke to last as long as they have in this year's tournament. When you look at the offensive output the Devils produce when forced to match-up against Coach K's championship programs, that winning confidence is drained once again. Duke has shot 43.8-percent from the floor this season equaling a cellar-dweller 85.9 points per game average in our simulations. However, there is hope for Duke when you compare other statistics to the university's three past champions.

Duke - Inside the Numbers
SeasonRecordHomeNeutralOpp. FG%National Champs

If history repeats itself again, a 30-win season and an unblemished record inside Cameron bodes well for the 2009-10 Blue Devils. Coach K led his previous national champions to 30-plus wins and a home court advantage that watched as rivals departed Durham defeated.

Though this year's Dukies struggle against their university's basketball fraternity, the Devils' lock down defense also gives the Crazies hope of a fourth national championship under Krzyzewski. Duke has held opponents to a 40-percent field goal percentage helping them make up for the 43-percent they shoot as a team.

Izzo's Final Four Teams vs 2010 Spartans
TeamWin%Avg Score
2000-01 Michigan State Spartans70.780.5
1999-00 Michigan State Spartans62.378.6
1998-99 Michigan State Spartans59.677.3
2008-09 Michigan State Spartans40.976.5
2009-10 Michigan State Spartans35.371.8
2005-06 Michigan State Spartans31.274.7

Izzo Fan

Whatifsports.com is in the process of highlighting 16 great Big Ten basketball programs. It's no surprise two of coach Izzo's Final Four teams made the field.

However, in the "what-if" world, our college basketball simulation engine did not chose Izzo's 2000 national title team as his strongest Final Four squad of the past eleven years. Our computers loved his team that tried to repeat the feat the following season. The 2000-01 Spartans won over 70-percent of the time against their fellow brothers in our 51-game round-robin simulation.

Like the 2000-01 Duke team, the 2000-01 Spartans reached the Final Four. However, unlike the Devils who advanced to the national title game, MSU got blasted by eventual national runner-up Arizona.

"Duke is what I dream of," coach Izzo said after his team's loss to the Wildcats. "They seem to get it done year after year."

Coach Izzo's dream earlier this decade has come to fruition. Though his 2009-10 team falls short against past Spartan squads oozing with NBA talent, coach Izzo's ball club has proved critics wrong in the past. Their match-up against Butler is favorable. However, look forward to a low-scoring 40-minutes of basketball as the Spartans hold opponents to under 41-percent (64.4 ppg) from the floor and Butler doesn't allow teams to score more than 60 points per game (59.8 ppg).

2001 Michigan State vs 2001 Duke - 1001 Simulations
MatchupWin%Avg Score
Michigan State Spartans5.878.5Boxscore
Duke Blue Devils94.294.9Simulate Game

It may not be fair to compare Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo's 2000-01 programs as one cut down the nets and the other came up two wins short. But if there is one constant between these two teachers, it's their uncanny ability to mold high school potential into All-American skill in less than four years. They truly are the coaching equivalent of Michelangelo and Da Vinci when they utilize their 94-foot blank canvas and create a masterpiece fans will gaze at for hours.

Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com. Feel free to shoot him an email with any questions or comments regarding Whatifsports.com's NCAA Tournament Preview.

Whatifsports.com is proud to say it accurately predicted the 2009 Super Bowl, 2009 BCS National Championship, 2009 World Series, 2009 NBA Finals and 2009 NCAA basketball championship. Our hope is to add the 2010 national basketball championship to that running list of Whatifsports.com's simulation success.

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