Bombazo: the Duke of Zion Williamson, outside the Final Four

Michigan State, with a collective exhibition and a great match by Cassius Winston, defeats the favorite. RJ Barrett missed the decisive plays.

The match ended and Magic Johnson, who has so few reasons this season with the Lakers to show his legendary smile, hugged the wife of Tom Izzo, the coach of his Michigan State Spartans since 1995, the champion team coach. in 2000. The second title of the university, after 1979, the final of the Magic-Larry Bird. The Spartans are in the Final Four for the third time in this decade and for the first time in four years. And they will travel to Minnesota as an East winner in which they started as seed 2 and in which there was a thunderous favorite, the Duke of Mike Krzyzewski, Cam Reddish, RJ Barrett ... and Zion Williamson, of course.

The March Madness goes out of a fabulous Elite 8, after four beautiful games, with a Final Four of teams that have won the ticket to pulse. Not the most media, not the most dazzling, but four that have deserved to be, whether or not they are the preferred choices for the general public, televisions and their advertisers: Texas Tech-Michigan State and Virginia-Auburn will be the semifinals in search of successor of Villanova. Only a number 1 of his box, Virginia, after a Sunday of long knives that fired Duke and Kentucky, favorite of the Midwest after the trombone of North Carolina.

So there will be no Zion Williamson in Minnesota, the Final Four is left without the sensation that an NBA shirt will wear the next time it plays an official basketball game. 222222 Duke, who has only played well as a team of bursts during the tournament, had exhausted their lives after two tremendous miracles to escape the clutches of UCF ( especially) and Virginia Tech.

After two similar announcements Michigan State, although Tom Izzo arrived in 1-11 against Coach K, it was the carbon 14 test, the night to know if what we had seen in the previous matches had it was the luck of the champion or the anguished road towards the disaster of, in spite of everything, favorite to the title until the same moment in which it was eliminated. Not a few seconds before, no one would have bet against Zion, who finished this time with 24 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks, 17 + 8 + 3 after the break. Lost 5 balls, suffered against the defense of Xavier Tillman in the paint and did not appear in the last attacks, when an RJ Barrett was embolized that ended in 21 + 6 + 6 but with 7 losses and many failures in the decisive decisions. Finally, with 66-68 and 5 seconds left to play, he went to the free throw line and everything went backwards: he failed the first one and put the second after throwing him to fail. Duke, who was not in bonus, I did not scratch more attacks. The paranormal events were over on a day when Coach K clearly lost the battle of slates with Izzo, Cam Reddish (theoretically another top 10 of the draft) was again inconsequential, Tre Jones barely managed and DeLaurier pivot was in the second part the best squire of Barrett and Zion. Almost the only one.

But Zion was all that Duke was after a tremendous streak by Barrett to convert a 7-14 lead into a 30-21 followed by more than five minutes with no points from the Blue Devils (30-34). Zion insisted on not losing: points, rebounds of attack, angry shouts, intimidation, punches in the air, intelligent passes ... he did everything, he put everything ... and lost . Because Michigan State was better as a team, moved by the base Cassius Winston, who played an exceptional game: 20 points, 10 assists, 4 steals. Baskets when needed, a recital in the execution of pick and roll, intelligence and leadership. Tremendo in front of the Tillman (19 + 9), Henry and Goins, who was in 1/7 in triples when he put the one that turned the game (66-68) to 39 seconds of the final.

Never the four games of the Elite 8 they had decided on such a small total difference, 18 points. From the unbearable defense of Texas Tech to the redemption of Virginia, the determination of Auburn and, finally, the collective precision of Michigan State, the final judgment for the Duke of Zion Williamson, who will go to the NBA, as Barrett and Reddish, without stepping on a Final Four that will miss them ... but a which comes four teams with capital letters and with a huge competitive capacity. Come strong emotions and, after of this tremendous victory, or the previous exhibition against LSU, it's hard not to give the Spartans of Izzo (and Magic ...) as many options to be a champion as to any other. But that, the end of the great dance, will be next weekend, in Minnesota.

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