The Michigan State Spartans will open their season against the Connecticut Huskies on Friday night and while it’s not the biggest game of the year by any means, it’s a chance for the Spartans to make a statement.
The Spartans will be playing on national television on an aircraft carrier at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and this will be their chance to remind everyone that they are still a force to be reckoned with at the national level.
Sure, the loss of Draymond Green is not an easy one to absorb but the Spartans a model of consistency in the Big Ten and nationally and as long as Tom Izzo is the coach in East Lansing, that will never change.
It also won’t change because Derrick Nix appears ready to be a leader. Nix ran into some trouble in the off-season, getting arrested for driving a car that had any presence of drugs and for possession of marijuana.
The charges were reduced to driving while impaired and the possession charge was dismissed.
Nix paid his time for the mistake, including doing community service. He has also taken the time to speak at juvenile centers, high schools and youth camps and has been a good student in the classroom.
Nix could have fallen off a cliff and become the latest player to never live up to his potential.
But Nix has displayed remarkable maturity and he is ready to be a leader for the Spartans. He has his first chance on the national stage to prove as much on Friday night against a Connecticut team that will be better than people think.
Nix will rise to the occasion in that game and throughout the year, and for that very reason, the Spartans are going to be a national contender this season.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.