Michigan State basketball will be tested vs. hot-shooting Virginia Tech

Tom Izzo, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Tom Izzo, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Virginia Tech can shoot the ball well, so Michigan State basketball will be tested in the first round of the Maui Invitational on Monday evening.

After a tough stretch of games to start the season, Michigan State needed a vacation. Well, Tom Izzo and his Spartans got one to Hawaii, but they won’t be resting for long as the Maui Invitational awaits on Monday evening.

Virginia Tech is the first opponent for the Spartans and even though the Hokies are 5-0, they have been lightly tested with their best win coming at Clemson.

For the Spartans, they’re currently 3-1 with a loss against Kentucky to open the year and then a win at Seton Hall the next week. The No. 3 team in the country will once again be tested, but this time against an ACC foe who has been red-hot from long-range this season, making 42 percent of its threes. Virginia Tech will be no walk in the park.

Keep an eye on freshman guard Landers Nolley II who has been a breakout star for the Hokies and could give Cassius Winston a run for his money. He’s averaging 20.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Here’s how you can watch Monday’s Maui matchup:

Date: Monday, Nov. 25
Time: 5 p.m. ET
Location: Maui, Hawaii
Venue: Lahaina Civic Center
Live Stream: WatchESPN

Keys to Victory

Working the ball through the post would be the most effective way to open up the floor and make sure the offense isn’t just settling for jumpers. When Michigan State’s offense has been the most successful this season, Xavier Tillman is touching the ball in the post — or Thomas Kithier — and then kicking back out for open shots or making a move and going up with the shot or dishing it to the other open man in the post. Get the ball down low and space the floor. If that happens, life gets easier for Cassius Winston and the offense runs smoother.

Michigan State needs to defend the 3-point line against the Hokies. This team can absolutely drain the deep ball, making 42 percent of its shots from long range and that means the Spartans can’t leave anyone open. Virginia Tech’s top four scorers are shooting at least 40 percent from 3-point land and that’s concerning for a team that is susceptible to allowing long-range jumpers. Lock down the perimeter and see what Virginia Tech can do in the post.

Betting Odds

Courtesy of The Action Network

Line: Michigan State -11
Over/Under: 132.5

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The Hokies can absolutely drain the 3-point ball and that might be an issue early on. They will build an early 10-point lead, but the Spartans will pull within three by halftime and then come out of the locker room and catch fire from long-range themselves. Cassius will have a big game on offense, as will Gabe Brown who finishes with 20 points, giving fans flashes of his tourney breakout game against LSU last year. The Spartans escape a Maui opening scare.

Final Score: Virginia Tech 67, Michigan State 76