At this point in the season, you could try to talk me off the idea that No. 6 Michigan State isn’t the best team in college basketball, but I’m not sure that it would work.
The Spartans went into Columbus on Tuesday night and knocked off Ohio State in pretty impressive fashion, sending the Buckeyes back to their dorms with an 81-62 loss that never truly felt like it was in doubt.
And here’s the thing: They did it on a night where Denzel Valentine didn’t exactly look like himself despite the fact that he finished with 17 points, eight assists and five boards; that should tell you a thing or two about just how good he’s been this season.
The Spartans have rediscovered the form that they were in before Valentine missed time with that knee injury. A large part of that is due to the fact that Valentine is playing the best basketball of his life. There’s a very real chance that he could end up usurping Buddy Hield’s National Player of the Year award by the time they are announced, which is shocking given how far ahead of the pack Hield was as recently as three weeks ago.
But it’s more than just Valentine.
Matt Costello has been playing at a different level since the Spartans snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over Maryland while Bryn Forbes has seemingly forgotten how to miss from beyond the arc — he had 27 points on Tuesday and shot 7-for-10 from three, which upped his three-point percentage to 49.4%.
But the real danger of this Michigan State team is that the role players on their roster are Deyonta Davis and Eron Harris. Harris averaged more than 17 points for West Virginia two years ago, and he’s finally figured out a way to consistently be a good defender. And Davis? He’s probably the best NBA prospect on the roster and a former five-star recruit that provides Tom Izzo with a measure of size and athleticism he can’t get from anywhere else.
But the most important part is that this team buys in and executes the way you expect every Michigan State team to, and which Valentine running the Sparty’s secondary break offense, there may not be a player more perfectly suited to the team that he’s leading than him.