Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Michigan State Spartans Pick 11/25/19
Virginia Tech Hokies (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS)
When: Monday, November 25, 5 p.m. EST
Where: Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, Hawaii
Point Spread: VT +11/MIST -11
Total: O/U 132.5
Last Time Out:
Virginia Tech waxed Delaware State 100-64 on Wednesday; Michigan State hammered Charleston Southern 94-46 on Nov. 18.
Scouting the Hokies:
You’d never know it from the expectations surrounding this squad, but Virginia Tech was a Sweet 16 team a year ago and was a basket away from toppling Duke for a trip to the Elite Eight. But virtually nothing was expected from the Hokies this season after being hit hard by graduation, the departure of Kerry Blackshear, and the loss of coach Buzz Williams.
However, under Mike Young, the Hokies haven’t yet missed a beat, starting the year with five wins. Granted, the schedule to date has been four pushovers and Clemson, but 5-0 is 5-0, and these Hokies appear to have a point to prove. Landers Nolley has become the new Fletcher Magee for Young, averaging 20.2 points a game for the Hokies and hitting above 46 percent from behind the arc. Magee’s shooting was what took Young’s old Wofford squads from being an excellent mid-major to a special one, and Nolley has provided that spark nicely. Meanwhile, the rest of the Hokies have shown an excellent nose for the basketball, averaging more than 40 rebounds a game despite no significant contributions from anyone taller than Nolley’s 6-foot-7.
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Scouting the Spartans:
With the loss to Kentucky out of the way, Michigan State has been able to get back to work outside of the glare of being the No. 1 team in the nation, and the results have been excellent. Not only have the Spartans punished lower-level opposition, but they’ve shown that their ranking is still justified after besting a very good Seton Hall team on the road. Now they’ve got the challenge of getting by a pair of decent squads in order to set up a matchup with Kansas.
To get to the Jayhawks, they’ve got to handle the Hokies, and they’ll attempt to do so by riding Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman to success. Winston was a preseason favorite for the Wooden Award, and he has proven worthy of every bit of the hype surrounding him. He’s excellent at scoring the basketball as well as finding teammates, and an assist-to-turnover ratio over two says that he makes wise decisions with the basketball.
Tillman might be 6-foot-8, but he plays much bigger, nearly averaging a double-double on the interior. When he and Winston are both stepping up, the Spartans are almost impossible to beat.
The interior. Virginia Tech is going to have a hard time trying to stop Tillman one-on-one, but Young has a few cards he can play here. He has a deep squad that rotates 11 players into action on a regular basis, and Tillman is only an average free throw shooter at 73 percent. Should he so choose, Young could opt to have his Hokies use up several of their fouls to keep Tillman from dominating on the interior and instead make him earn his points at the stripe. With so many bodies available, foul trouble isn’t a concern for Virginia Tech, which could present a unique challenge for Tillman and the Spartans.
Virginia Tech will Cover if:
The Hokies can shoot the 3-pointer as well as they did against Delaware State. Virginia Tech hit 21 3-point baskets in that game, and there’s no real way for a team like Michigan State to match that when the Hokies are hitting. The Spartans do not shoot it well from deep, so if the Hokies’ shots are hitting, they’ll have a chance at a stunning upset.
Michigan State will Cover if:
The Spartans can keep the game inside the perimeter. Michigan State’s weakness is the 3-ball, so the Spartans have to make sure that the Hokies don’t force them into a scoring contest. Offenses don’t get much more efficient than the Spartans, but even a super-efficient offense can’t stand up to a 3-point barrage. Michigan State either needs to deny the long shot, force the Hokies into bad looks, or keep the game from being played in the exterior altogether.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
The first game at Maui is always a tough one to figure out. Your body is still going to be adjusting to the time change by the time you tip off on Day 1, and on top of that, this is one of the earlier two games of the day, causing a major change to these players’ schedules.
Drastic switches tend to favor the lesser of the two squads, and I think that’s what’s going to happen here. I think the Hokies would have trouble on the mainland, but in Hawaii, weird things can happen and often do. Eleven seems to be too many points in a 5 p.m. game., so I’ll take a shot with the Hokies.
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