This could be the most talented team in Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo’s tenure, and for a man who picked up his 500th career win Thursday, that’s a big bar to clear.
The No. 3 Spartans rolled to a 99-68 win over Boston College at the Wooden Legacy, setting up a semifinal against Boise State at 3:30 p.m. MT Friday on ESPN2.
Michigan State has four wins by at least 24 points, and the other was a six-point win over then-No. 4 Kansas on Nov. 17.
“I think they are the best team in the country,” Boston College coach Jim Christian said.
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Best team in the country with perhaps the best player in the country. Senior guard Denzel Valentine had his second triple-double of the season Thursday with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game.
His first career start was Nov. 20, 2012 when the Spartans hosted the Broncos in East Lansing, Mich., a 74-70 win for the home team.
“It’s neat to see when a kid goes through the system, can improve so much and see him playing with such great confidence and understanding,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “He makes the right plays all the time. He’s making the game look easy.”
Friday’s game will be the fourth time Boise State has faced a top-three team.
“Their teams tend to get better as the season progresses, but this one, they’re playing so well right away,” Rice said.
“They don’t have very many weaknesses, but we’ve tested ourselves against some great competition, and it’ll be a great opportunity to play someone of that caliber.”
BIG DAY FOR HUTCHISON ... AND FAMILY
Boise State sophomore guard Chandler Hutchison posted his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds Thursday. Seven of those rebounds came on the offensive end.
“He played absolutely amazing today,” junior forward Nick Duncan said.
Hutchison is averaging 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season after averaging 3.1 ppg and 2.0 rpg as a freshman.
“Each game Chandler has gotten better and better and he figures that he’ll get rewarded if he goes after it,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “Tonight he got seven offensive rebounds and us getting offensive rebounds against that zone is a huge factor for the win.”
Hutchison, who grew up in nearby Mission Viejo, also helped out the rest of the team Thursday night. His family hosted the Broncos for Thanksgiving dinner.