Wednesday morning brings the Battle 4 Atlantis (seriously, no one over the age of 6 ever needs to spell any word with a number) with Michigan State taking on Loyola-Chicago. Tip-off is 11am central, on ESPN.
We recently had an exclusive with Loyola coach Drew Valentine, and we covered this game, the marquee contest on the Ramblers’ pre-conference slate, in detail. Although both teams are currently unranked, it should be a really tightly contested affair. ESPN Matchup Predictor sees it as 58.6-41.4% MSU. If you’re looking for Free Bets, then maybe you should take Loyola +6 or even +5 on the market. It would be a smart wager.
The obvious connection between these two teams, in a game filled with additional story lines, is of course Drew’s brother Denzel Valentine, who is a Michigan State legend.
Valentine won numerous plaudits during his time in E.L. including the Julius Erving Award (best small forward in the nation) and several national player of the year honors.
He was also the 2015 Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player award during his very decorated career with the Spartans. He was drafted in the middle of the first round by the Chicago Bulls, and he’s currently on the roster of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It’s going to be special for Drew Valentine to face the program of his brother.
“My brother trained with me at Loyola all summer so I see him a lot,” Drew Valentine said of Denzel Valentine.
“He’s a really talented player and its been fun to watch his journey- as he was a player that people didn’t know if he was good enough to play at Michigan State, to (then) going into his sixth year (now) in the NBA.”
Drew, the youngest men’s basketball coach in NCAA Division 1, is in his first season in charge at the lakeshore campus.
In his four years as an assistant on Porter Moser’s staff, Valentine has been a part of 99 wins, two sweet sixteens and one final four.
In building his program, Valentine takes a lot from MSU mentor Tom Izzo, the dean of Big Ten coaches.
“The biggest thing with coach Izzo is the relationship piece, he coaches guys hard, but they know he cares about them,” Valentine said.
“He knows they’re good players, he’s just pushing them further than they think they can go. Having those kind of relationships with my players is something I’m really trying to do, both when I was an assistant and now as a head coach.
Valentine then added the following:
“Also, how hard you have to go, every single day- the mentality of how hard it is to win championships.
“You got to be consistent with your motor and your energy and that’s one thing i take from him as he’s one of the best in the country at doing that.”
2021-22 College Basketball Season Preview Series
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”Follow paulmbanks