No. 3 Michigan State Hosts No. 5 Notre Dame on Thursday Night
East Lansing, Mich. -
Michigan State's men's basketball team returns home on Thursday, Nov. 30, hosting Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at the Breslin Center. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
The game will air live on ESPN with Karl Ravech calling the play-by-play, Jay Bilas handling the analysis and Seth Greenberg on sidelines. 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 will be a meeting between two of the top-ranked teams in the country, as Michigan State, 5-1 overall and winners of four-straight games, enters ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. The Fighting Irish, 6-0 overall, are ranked No. 5 in both polls.
This is just the third-ever Michigan State home game to feature two teams ranked in the Associated Press Top Five. The last meeting was on Jan. 7, 2014, when then-No. 5 Michigan State hosted then-No. 3 Ohio State. Keith Appling made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in overtime and finished with 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds to help the Spartans beat the Buckeyes, 72-68. This is the second Top-Five matchup of the season for MSU, who lost to No. 1 Duke, 88-81, in the Champions Classic in Chicago on Nov. 14.
The game against No. 5 Notre Dame also marks the third time this season that Michigan State will have played a team ranked among the Associated Press Top-10. The Spartans have already played No. 1 Duke and beat then-No. 9 North Carolina, 63-45, on Sunday in the Victory Bracket championship game of the PK80 Invitational. Michigan State is the only team among the Power Six Conferences that will play three teams ranked in the AP Top-10 in the first month of the season. This is the second-straight year MSU has done so, playing No. 10 Arizona, No. 2 Kentucky and No. 5 Duke last year in the opening month of the season.
Michigan State and Notre Dame meet for the 96th time on Thursday, but just the second time since 1979. The Irish lead the head-to-head series, 60-35 and MSU has won two of the last three games and eight of the last 12 overall. The last meeting was a 79-78 overtime loss at Notre Dame in December 2014. This is the first game in East Lansing since February 1974, when MSU lost to Notre Dame, 91-89. Michigan State is 23-24 at home against the Fighting Irish. The last Spartan victory came in the Elite Eight of the 1979 NCAA Tournament.
Michigan State is 7-10 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. After dropping the first 10 challenges, the Big Ten has captured six of the last eight, with the conferences splitting the 2012 and 2013 Challenges, 6-6. Last year, the ACC captured the Commissioner's Cup, winning 5-4.
Michigan State's sophomore class -- Miles Bridges, Joshua Langford, Cassius Winston and Nick Ward -- have helped to lead the way for the Spartans. Through six games, that quartet has accounted for 64.7 percent of the team's scoring (266 of 485 points), 41.9 percent of its rebounds (106 of 253) and 58.0 percent of the team's assists (55 of 112).
Freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. was amed the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week on Monday after helping to lead the Spartans to the championship of the Victory Bracket in the PK80 Invitational last week. Jackson Jr. averaged 9.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks to help lead the Spartans. He had a pair of double-doubles, first with 13 points and 10 rebounds in a 73-51 win over DePaul on Thursday, and then with 12 points and 10 rebounds in a 77-57 win over Connecticut on Friday.
Notre Dame, 6-0 and ranked No. 5 in both polls, beat Wichita State, 67-66, last week to win the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Hawaii. The game with Michigan State will be their first in eight days. Senior forward Bonzie Colson leads the team with 20.0 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game. Senior guard Matt Farrell is second on the team with 17.5 points per game, leads the team with 4.3 assists and has hit a team-best 18 3-pointers. Sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs is the third player scoring in double figures, averaging 15.5 points per game. Notre Dame ranks No. 10 nationally in field goal percentage (52.8%) and No. 16 in 3-point field goal percentage (43.8).