Date/Time: November 22, 9:30 p.m. EST
NBA Betting Odds from Bovada
NBA Betting Favorite: Michigan State -15.5
Virginia Tech and Michigan State will meet in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn on Friday night. Michigan State is the number one ranked team in the country. Virginia Tech is looking to find some direction. The Spartans haven’t been all that impressive in their last couple games, but they are capable of big things. Can the Hokies find a way to hang around in this one?
Virginia Tech went 13-19 last year, and the Hokies lost star Erick Green. Green was the leading scorer in the league, and he was Mr. Everything for this team. The Hokies are leaning on guys like Jarrell Eddie and Cardarian Raines to be the senior leaders of this team. Freshman Ben Emelogu is shooting 52.4% from beyond the arc, and his 15.8 points per game have been huge for this team so far this season. The Hokies are 3-1 on the year. They lost their season opener to South Carolina Upstate, but they have bounced back with three solid wins.
While the Hokies do have a nice record early on, it’s fair to say they haven’t played anyone even close to the caliber of team that Michigan State is. The Spartans showed what they are made of when they took down Kentucky on a neutral floor earlier this year. Virginia Tech has to find a way to hold their own on the glass, which is an area that Michigan State generally dominates. Virginia Tech is shooting 45% from three-point range as a team so far this year, and the Hokies could use some hot shooting in this one.
Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans are a great mixture of veteran leaders as well as young stars. Gary Harris is the team’s best player as a sophomore, but Keith Appling and Adreian Payne are great veteran leaders. Branden Dawson was hurt much of last year, and he is a key part to this team as well. Dawson is a guard, but he leads the team in rebounds at 9.5 boards per game. Appling has been on fire from three-point range so far this season. He has knocked down 61.5% of his long range shots. Payne is a big man who has an extremely versatile game. He can bang around down low, or he can step out and knock down the three-ball. The Spartans have tons of guys who are mismatches for most opponents.
Harris hasn’t shot the ball particularly well so far this season, but he is much healthier than he was a year ago, and I expect huge things from him. Izzo’s teams always play very good defense, and they dominate on the boards. If Michigan State can consistently take care of the basketball and get good looks on the offensive end, the sky is the limit for this team.
Free Pick: Michigan State -15.5
Michigan State hasn’t played very well in their last two games, and I think Izzo will have them ready to go in this one. They are the much better team.
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