Michigan State ready to get back to business
The preliminary matchups for the 2016 Battle 4 Atlantis were revealed yesterday, with Michigan State set to take on St. John’s in the first of three games in roughly 72 hours. Following the soul-crushing end to last season, the Spartans can’t book their business trip to the Bahamas fast enough.
Online sports book Bovada.lv currently gives Tom Izzo’s troops odds of +1200 to win the 2017 college basketball national championship. Despite that stunning defeat to No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee State in March Madness, only five NCAA bluebloods (Duke, Kentucky, Villanova, Kansas and Louisville) enjoy better prospects moving forward.
By the time the action tips off from Nov. 23-25 on Paradise Island, Izzo hopes to have crafted a plan to somewhat compensate for the loss of Denzel Valentine. MSU’s four-year stalwart was drafted by the Chicago Bulls on June 23. He averaged 19.2 points per contest, 7.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists as a senior.
Of course, the cupboard didn’t suddenly go bare in East Lansing. Eron Harris and Gavin Schilling return to lead a program that just registered a 29-6 record and paced the nation in dimes. Freshmen Miles Bridges and Joshua Langford could conceivably make an impact on Izzo’s cherished defensive end of the floor, too, in short order.
Interestingly, Michigan State and the Red Storm haven’t collided since the 1979-80 campaign. Chris Mullin still faces a long road to restore his school to relevance, so MSU fans may not want to put excessive stock into the tropical goings-on in several months. Even so, there’s no better venue at which to dump those lingering memories of an early Big Dance ouster forever.