Feast Week is finally here, and with it comes the best college basketball tournaments other than the Big Dance. The Maui Invitational kicks off Monday, and we get a nice matchup right at the start.
Michigan State, arguably one of the five best teams in the country, could get what should be considered a surprising test from the Virginia Tech Hokies. First-year Hokies head coach Mike Young has his group playing extremely well to open the season, including a 1-0 record in the ACC after going on the road and beating Clemson. Freshman wing Landers Nolley II has been incredible to open the season, averaging 20 points, five rebounds and two assists per game while shooting 46 percent from deep on 37 attempts so far.
The Spartans are led by All-American point guard Cassius Winston and were the early favorite for the national championship before being struck by the injury bug just before the season. Michigan State fell to Kentucky on opening night but has since picked up a nice win over a Top 25 Seton Hall squad and looks to have righted the ship. Winston has been as advertised so far this season, averaging 17.5 points and 6.8 assists per game despite suffering the personal tragedy of his younger brother’s passing.
Will The Hokies Shock The Nation?
Virginia Tech came into the season without much luster and has outperformed those expectations so far this season. Though it’s early, Young seems to have found his new Fletcher McGee in Nolley, who typically puts up around three times as many shots than his teammates over the course of the game.
Fellow freshman Nahiem Alleyne has shocked ACC pundits so far this season with his high-quality play as well. Alleyne is averaging 12.2 points per game and shooting 44 percent from behind the arc. Jalen Cone has been solid, as has leader P.J. Horne.
Can The Spartans Avoid Being Conquered?
When it comes down to it, there is a reason that this team was ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls. Not having Joshua Langford certainly hurts, but Winston is possibly the best player in college basketball, while forwards Gabe Brown, Xavier Tillman and Aaron Henry (who should be good to go) make up one of the best frontcourts in the Big Ten. Sophomore forward Marcus Bingham has also been decent in limited minutes.
Pick and Prediction
The point spread has the Spartans favored by 13.5 points, while the over/under has been set at 131. On paper, Michigan State should run away with this game, but if the Hokies start to knock down triples, anything can happen. Winston is going to be the best player on the floor, but Nolley might be the best pure scorer, playing for a coach that comes up with ways to get him shots. Young is going to slow this game way down and try to grind it out, but I just don’t think he has enough horses.
The Spartans have also already played some of the toughest competition in the country while the Hokies certainly have not. Virginia Tech covers, Michigan State wins, take the under.
Check Out Other Related Posts on 4Flush
100% up to $3,000 Bonus
Bovada is our most recommended ONLINE CASINO and POKER ROOM for US players with excellent deposit options. Get your 100% signup bonus today.