Derrick Nix Gives Michigan State Chance To Win National Title

By Brian Lester
Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports Images

Death and taxes are guarantees. So are NCAA tourney-opening wins by Michigan State under head coach Tom Izzo.

The Spartans did it again on Thursday, cruising past Valparaiso 65-54.

If you picked  the Crusaders hoping for the best, you were a fool. No way was Michigan State losing that game.

Michigan State can beat a team in a lot of different ways, and against Valparaiso, Derrick Nix was the difference.

He is a senior and he played like one, his sense of urgency written all over the 23-point, 15-rebound effort against a Crusaders team that had absolutely no answer for him.

”It’s my last go-around,” Nix said in a post-game press conference. ”And, I’m not ready to be done yet.”

Michigan State is known for its bruising play in the paint and its blue-collar effort on defense. Nix exemplifies those characteristics as much as anyone else on the team.

If the Spartans are to advance to the Final Four and give themselves a chance to win a national championship, Nix has to be at the center of their attack. He has to be a dominant in the paint game in and game out.

Nix will give a lot of teams issues defending him, and even if a team does make life tough on him, Gary Harris and Keith Appling are threats to score from the outside.

The Spartans are certainly capable of being the last team standing at the end of the year. It all just depends on how well Nix performs from here on out.

Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.

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