Michigan State Basketball: Staff score predictions vs. Texas in Vegas Invitational Finals

Josh Langford, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Josh Langford, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /

Michigan State basketball had its way with UCLA in the opening round of the Las Vegas Invitational. Could we see more of the same against Texas?

Texas upsetting No. 7 North Carolina in front of a vast majority Tar Heel crowd was no easy task. Kerwin Roach II had a career-best 32 points against the Tar Heels and the Spartans will more than likely entrust Joshua Langford and Texas-native Matt McQuaid to slow him down offensively.

Unlike the Bruins, the Longhorns have some depth and they are not one-dimensional on offense with Matt Coleman III, Jaxson Hayes and Dylan Osetkowski. They did, however, only play eight players 10 or more minutes against North Carolina and in comparison, Michigan State played 12 players last night with 10 of those playing significant minutes.

The Spartans shot over 54 percent from 3-point range against UCLA making 13-of-24. I don’t foresee that happening again, but Michigan State has proven all season putting up 87 points against Kansas and UCLA and over 100 points against Florida Gulf Coast and Tennessee Tech that they can score at will.

Their defense is good as well, but they are scoring so quickly that opponents can put up more shots and thus able to score some points here by games end. Cassius Winston is emerging as an All-American before our eyes as his ability to shot the three consistently, drive and finish in the lane, and be a leader on the court running the offense.

Nick Ward, as he did last season, has a high field goal percentage shooting the ball, but the difference now is that he is playing more minutes and he is being a leader and has dominated his opposition in the post this season.

Langford and McQuaid still are a little inconsistent but the help balances the floor on offense and both hustle and plays defense well. Add in players like Kenny Goins and Kyle Ahrens who can give you 20-plus minutes a game if needed due to their high basketball intelligence and their ability to play well in Tom Izzo’s system.

Now, here are the staff predictions:

Ryan Kay: Michigan State and Texas have a common opponent that they have both played in the UL-Monroe in which the Longhorns beat them 65-55 and the Spartans won 80-59. Texas can score as they put up over 90 points in their last two games and unlike UCLA, they have two quality wins against Arkansas and UNC.

Both teams have two All American candidates leading their teams in Roach II for the Longhorns and Winston for the Spartans. The matchup between Texas’ Hayes and Michigan State’s Ward will be fun to watch as they battle down low.

However, the X-factor will be the matchup between Goins and Osetkowski. If Osetkowski gets going early, look for Izzo to go to Xavier Tillman. This is a game that Langford and McQuaid really need to step up offensively and more importantly defensively. Not to say that Texas doesn’t have any experienced players, but Michigan State is playing well and the Spartans prevail in a high-scoring affair.

Final Score: Texas 73, Michigan State 82

Connor Muldowney: Michigan State’s offense is clicking right now, and that’s bad news for the rest of college basketball. The Spartans made 13 shots from 3-point range against UCLA and ran the Bruins out of the gym, so you can imagine Michigan State’s confidence is at an all-time high. Cassius Winston will have another good game, Kerwin Roach II won’t quite go off for 32 and the Spartan defense will step up again. Nick Ward will be an absolute bruiser in the post, finishing with 17 and 10.

Final Score: Texas 71, Michigan State 81

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Stephen Robb: Texas is 5-0 and while it’s still very early it appears this could be the year head coach Shaka Smart finally gets over the hump. His first few years at UT have seen disappointments with early exits in the tourney. Texas’ upset win against No. 7 North Carolina could propel the Longhorns. Senior guard Kerwin Roach II scorched the Tar Heels for 32 points. Texas, like MSU, shoots the three well and Smart starts a small three guard lineup — tallest player starting is 6-foot-9. MSU needs to go inside to Nick Ward early and often.

Final Score: Texas 65, Michigan State 69