No. 2 Michigan State Opens Season on Friday Against North Florida
Spartans Tip Off 2017-18 Season at Home
East Lansing, Mich. -
Michigan State University's men's basketball team opens the 2017-18 regular season on Friday, Nov. 10, hosting North Florida at the Breslin Center. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.
The game will be shown live on the Big Ten Network (BTN), with Greg Amsinger calling the play-by-play and Jon Crispin serving as the color analyst. The Spartan Sports Network radio call can be heard on one of 38 affiliates and on the web at SpartanSportsNetwork.com, with Will Tieman handling the play-by-play and Matt Steigenga serving as the color analyst. The game can also be heard on Sirius 134 or XM 195.
The Spartans, ranked No. 2 in the country in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches preseason polls, return four of their top five scorers and eight of their top 10 from last year's NCAA Tournament squad, led by sophomore guard/forward Miles Bridges.
Bridges was named the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year and was a unanimous selection to the preseason All-Big Ten team. A co-captain, he was also named a preseason All-American by the Associated Press and Sporting News, was named the preseason National Player of the Year by ESPN.com and NBC Sports and is the No. 1 candidate for Sports Illustrated. In addition, Bridges was selected to the Watch List for the Naismith Trophy, recognizing the national player of the year, the Oscar Robertson Award and the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year.
Last year, Bridges averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game to become the first freshman to lead MSU in scoring since Shawn Respert did as a redshirt freshman in 1991-92, while his scoring average was second-best all-time among Spartan freshmen, trailing only Earvin "Magic" Johnson (17.0 ppg). Bridges was named the 2017 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was a second team All-Big Ten selection, along with earning Sporting News Freshman All-American honors. He was just the second Spartan to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and the fourth freshman in school history to earn all-conference honors.
In addition to Bridges, the Spartans also return preseason All-Big Ten selection sophomore Nick Ward. The forward, who was also selected to the Naismith Trophy Watch List, was an honorable mention all-league selection and finished the 2016-17 season averaging 13.9 points and 6.5 points per game. He was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week four times and was the only freshman to be named as the league's player of the week.
The Spartans played a trio of exhibition games to start the year, beating Ferris State (80-72) on Oct. 26, topping Georgia (80-68) on Oct. 29 in a hurricane relief exhibition game and handling Ferris State (75-44) last week. Bridges averaged 16.7 points and was third on the team with 6.3 rebounds, while sophomore guard Cassius Winston averaged 16.3 points and 7.0 assists and Ward averaged 12.0 points and was second on the team with 7.3 rebounds.
This will be the second all-time meeting between Michigan State and North Florida. The first meeting came in December 2013, a 78-48 MSU win at the Breslin Center. The Spartans have an al-time record of 5-1 against teams from the Atlantic Sun Conference.
North Florida returns a pair of starters from last year's team, which finished with a 15-19 overall record and an 8-6 mark in the ASUN. Leading the way for the Osprey is sophomore forward Wajid Aminu, who was selected as the ASUN Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Aminu, who was named the conference's Freshman of the Year last season, averaged 9.1 points and 6.5 rebounds last year, while setting a school single-season record with 36 blocked shots.