With the 2019 edition of the Gavitt Games tied after Wednesday night, everything would come down to two games on Friday night for conference superiority. Michigan State went on the road to face Seton Hall and Penn State went on the road to face Georgetown. Both looked like really challenging games.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-No. 3 Michigan State Spartans 76, No. 12 Seton Hall Pirates 73
From opening tip, this felt like a big game. Seton Hall had a packed house and their fans were hoping the Pirates could upset a top five Michigan State team at home. Tom Izzo even complimented the environment after the game, saying it felt like March. And I have to admit, that’s exactly how I felt at home. It was a back-and-forth affair with big shots, nationally relevant players, and great coaches.
As noted, the game itself was really competitive. Michigan State led by three at halftime and was never able to pull away in any significant way. In the final six or so minutes of the game, Michigan State looked like it was going to win, then Seton Hall pulled ahead, then Michigan State came back. It was truly one of those kind of nights. All told, Michigan State was able to grab the 76-73 road victory.
This was a really impressive win for the Spartans. To start, Seton Hall was ranked 12th in the human polls and is a top 20 team on KenPom. Barring an insane collapse for Seton Hall in the coming months, this is going to be a massive resume win for Michigan State. These are the kind of games one seeds win and the Spartans got one on Thursday night.
It was also really encouraging to see Michigan State respond when adversity hit the team. Obviously, Cassius Winston has some off the court (and far more important) things going on in his life, but Michigan State also got some tough breaks in the game. Some key players got into foul trouble and the Spartans were able to overcome it. The team wasn’t able to do that against Kentucky last week, but did on Thursday. Malik Hall also had a breakout performance with 17 points off the bench. Keep an eye on the freshman.
Michigan State will now return home and get a few days off before facing Charleston Southern at home on Monday night. That should be an easy one for the Spartans.
While Penn State opened the season against some underwhelming competition, the team had shown some encouraging signs. The Nittany Lions were handling business, blowing out the competition, and seemed to be playing on a level one would expect out of a group in serious NCAA Tournament contention.
However, nobody was quite sure whether to buy in, given how weak Penn State’s first two opponents were on paper. As such, Thursday’s trip to Washington, DC to face off against Georgetown was a significant one. It would finally offer fans a glimpse of Penn State playing against a competent opponent.
And things certainly went well.
Penn State came roaring out of the gates on Thursday night and really never looked back. Georgetown had its moments, but Penn State was always in control. All told, Penn State was able to grab an 81-66 road win over the Hoyas to improve to 3-0 on the season. Myreon Jones came up particularly big in the game with 21 points.
It’s still really early in the season, but it’s hard not to feel good about how Penn State has started things off. This is arguably the team’s biggest road win in two or three years. And though it’s only three games, this looks like an NCAA caliber squad. Penn State now sits at 32nd nationally on KenPom and is projected for 20 wins. Fans have to like the sound of that.
We’ll see if Penn State can keep this up on Tuesday when the team faces off against Bucknell at home. The Bison project to be a decent squad this season.