EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's basketball schedule was announced on Thursday. The Spartans will face a schedule that includes 13 opponents that appeared in the 2014 postseason, play six of their first eight games away from East Lansing, and make trips to Rutgers and Maryland in their inaugural year of Big Ten basketball, while hosting Maryland in the first ever Big Ten game for the Terrapins. Game times and television networks for Big Ten contests and selected non-conference games will be announced at a later date.
"Our schedule will provide a tough test right out of the gates," said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. "With the potential of playing two Top 10 teams in the first few weeks of the season, we'll have a good early gauge of where our team stands. Opening the season at Navy provides one of those unique memory makers that have become a staple of our schedule. I expect the Big Ten to be a very competitive and balanced conference, with virtually every team having legitimate postseason hopes. We've had a great summer as a team, and I'm excited about coaching this group of dedicated and hard-working young men this upcoming season."
True to form, the start of Michigan State's non-conference schedule is far from ordinary. The Spartans open at Navy (Nov. 14) in the inaugural "Veterans Classic at the Naval Academy." The game will mark MSU's first ever contest at one of the service academies. Four days later, MSU will play Duke in the fourth-annual Champions Classic (Nov. 18) in Indianapolis. The Blue Devils are ranked No. 2 in the ESPN.com Preseason Top 25.
The Spartans host Loyola (Chicago) on Nov. 21 in the home opener. November closes with MSU playing in the Orlando Classic. Michigan State hosts Santa Clara on Nov. 24 in East Lansing as part of the Classic. The Spartans then travel to Orlando for three games in four days, beginning with Rider on Thanksgiving evening (Nov. 27). The following day, MSU will face either Georgia Tech or Marquette. Potential opponents for the final day (Nov. 30) include Kansas, Tennessee, Rhode Island and Santa Clara. Kansas and Tennessee each appeared in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and the Jayhawks are ranked No. 10 in the ESPN Preseason Top 25.
The following week, MSU will play at Notre Dame in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. This will be the first meeting between the Spartans and Fighting Irish since the 1979 NCAA Tournament, and the first on-campus meeting since a 76-73 Spartan victory at Notre Dame on Feb. 5, 1975.
After opening with six of their first eight games away from Breslin Center, the Spartans embark on a seven-game homestand. MSU closes the non-conference slate with home games against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Dec. 6), Oakland (Dec. 14), Eastern Michigan (Dec. 17), Texas Southern (Dec. 20), and The Citadel (Dec. 22). Texas Southern appeared in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, while Eastern Michigan played in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
The Spartans open the Big Ten portion of their schedule at home against Maryland (Dec. 30). This game will mark the first ever Big Ten contest for the Terrapins. Moving to a 14-team conference for 2014-15, each Big Ten team will play five schools twice, four schools on the road, and four schools at home. Michigan State will go home and home with Maryland (Dec. 30-H, Jan. 17-A), Indiana (Jan. 5-H, March 7-A), Northwestern (Jan. 11-H, Feb. 10-A), Michigan (Feb. 1-H, Feb. 17-A), and Illinois (Feb. 7-H, Feb. 22-A). The Spartans will host Penn State (Jan. 21), Ohio State (Feb. 14), Minnesota (Feb. 26), and Purdue (March 4), while traveling to Iowa (Jan. 8), Nebraska (Jan. 24), Rutgers (Jan. 27), and Wisconsin (March 1).
Eight of Michigan State's 13 Big Ten opponents appeared in the 2014 postseason, including five in the NCAA Tournament (Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin), two in the NIT (Illinois, Minnesota) and one in the CBI (Penn State). Three Big Ten opponents (Wisconsin-No. 4, Michigan-No. 24, Iowa-No. 25) are ranked in the ESPN Preseason Top 25, while the Spartans are preseason No. 18.
Michigan State will open the season with two exhibition games: vs. The Master's College (Nov. 3) and vs. St. Cloud State (Nov. 7).