The No. 3 Spartans will compete in their second game, first destination game, of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Monday night against Virginia Tech (5 p.m., ESPN2).
Michigan State looks forward to playing at full strength for their first time in recent weeks. Senior guard Cassius Winston has said that he will be trying to get back into his normal practice schedule since the death of his brother Zachary, and forward Aaron Henry will be returning after sitting out the last game due to an ankle injury.
“It’s going to be a really exciting time for me and my teammates,” Henry said. “It’s most of our first times going out there. But we have to remember the reason we are going out there. It’s strictly business. We got games to win, we got to compete at a high level.”
Head Coach Tom Izzo, who first attended the Maui Invitational in 1994, joked that he doesn’t “think tan lines would be part of the equation.”
“The trip is tough mentally because you have to learn to prepare for one team, then prepare for another team, then prepare for another team, win lose or draw,” Izzo said. “You're going to play three of the back-to-back-to-back. It's our mental condition right now, how we deal with things mentally when we've already been under some mental strain.”
The Spartans will begin against Virginia Tech, who is currently undefeated on their season.
The Hokies are led by junior guard Wabissa Bede, who holds a staggering 145 career assists, and Landers Nolley II, who averages 20.2 points a game. These two will likely lead Virginia Tech as they take on their first ranked team, MSU.
In the case of a Spartan victory Monday night, MSU will play again on Tuesday, Nov. 26 against Dayton or Georgia. In the case of another victory, the Spartans would move to the championship Wednesday.
“Just to give guys an idea of what it takes to win,” Xavier Tillman said regarding the advantages of exposing the younger players to a tournament schedule this early in the season. “We’re really going to be locked in each and every game, and it's really going to give them the chance to see what it takes to win a championship.”