With Big Ten play rapidly approaching, one team got some awful news that affects the rest of the conference greatly.
Denzel Valentine was well on his way to becoming a first team All-American in the 2015-16 college basketball season. However, the Michigan State guard/forward is going to have to miss some time after having a minor procedure done on his knee.
This is not good news for the top ranked Michigan State Spartans as they approach the start of Big Ten play. Valentine is currently averaging 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game with a slash line of 46/40/85 for the Spartans, that’s a lot to have to replace. After doing a little research, the Spartans have won four games by 10 or less points and on average, Valentine is playing 36.5 minutes in those games with his high coming against Louisville when he played 39 minutes.
That’s a lot of floor time.
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My guess is that coach Tom Izzo will look to Eron Harris, a transfer from West Virginia that had to sit out last year, to step up. During the 2013-14 campaign Harris averaged 17 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Mountaineers, so he is plenty capable.
If you’re an Iowa fan, there are two sides to this. One is that you’re a little bummed because Michigan State will not be at full strength come December 29th. The other is that you may feel a little better about Iowa winning this game considering last year in Iowa City Valentine went for 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists, although that was overshadowed by Travis Trice torching the place to the ground.
Personally, I am a little bummed Valentine won’t be suiting up on the 29th, mostly because you always want to play your competition when it’s completely healthy and Valentine is a huge piece to the puzzle for the Spartans that will be missing and I think most, if not all, of you would second that notion. To go along with that, the game would be a lot more entertaining if Valentine was on the floor, he’s one of the most exciting players in the country.
If Valentine ends up suffering a set back at all this has the potential to impact both games between the Spartans and the Hawkeyes. Iowa will play in East Lansing on January 14th, which is only 16 days after meeting number one in Iowa City. We’ll have to see how things shape up, but one thing is for certain.
The Spartans will be short-handed when they stroll into Iowa City.