EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State wrestling head coach Roger Chandler announced the Spartans' 2017-18 schedule on Friday.
"We have a very tough but good schedule," Chandler said. "We have a young team, but I think it's important for us to challenge a young team to continue to grow. We've got six of the top 10 returning teams from last year NCAA duals rankings. There's no doubt we're going to be challenged up and down the line. Part of being a champion is facing that level of competition and growing from it."
The Spartans have eight home events during the 2017-18 season. Seven regular-season events will be held at Jenison Field House, before the home slate culminates with the 2018 Big Ten Wrestling Championships held at the Breslin Center. MSU starts off the season with the Michigan State Open on Nov. 5.
"We are going to approach it one match at a time. It's exciting to know that we're going to host Big Ten Championships, but the reality is that we have the Michigan State Open, the Eastern Michigan Open, and we're going to be at Central Michigan in November. That's a big slate to start off the season. We have to build our season effectively and get better each and every time we step on to the mat."
The Spartans then embark on a stretch of seven-straight events away from home. MSU's road stretch opens by traveling throughout Michigan for the first pair of action, starting at the Eastern Michigan Open on Nov. 20 before the first dual of the season at Central Michigan on Nov. 17.
"Early season tournaments are very important as we lead into the dual meet season," Chandler said. "The good thing is we get to start off the first event at home. Our guys get to sleep in their own beds and train in their own environment, having that sense of normalcy for the first event. A lot of these guys, it's their first college event. It'll be great for them to transition into that very easily."
The squad will continue traveling toward the end of the year, making an appearance at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Dec. 1-2.
"As we try to grow and build our program, it's important for our guys to see the best competition," Chandler said. "That event in many ways is a preview of the NCAA Championships. It's a big event and it's set up, as far as round by round structure, somewhat similar to NCAAs so it allows our guys to feel that atmosphere a couple months prior to the NCAA Championships."
The Spartans will meet Buffalo for a dual on Dec. 8 and finish out the month in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for the South Beach Duals on Dec. 29-30.
In January, the Spartans hit the ground running in Big Ten competition, facing off with the league's best right away. MSU will battle last year's conference runner-up Iowa in Iowa City on Jan.5 and have a quick turnaround, heading to compete with Minnesota in Minneapolis on Jan. 7.
"Five of our first six Big Ten duals are against top-15 teams last year. The exciting thing is that these guys came to Michigan State to wrestle in the Big Ten. There's nothing better than that. I think it is a great opportunity for our guys and our team. When you have opportunity, you have to seize the moment and capitalize on it. I don't look at it as top-5 or top-15 teams, I look at it as opportunity to build individually and as a program," Chandler said.
The Spartans take on defending Big Ten Champion Penn State at home on either Jan. 12 or 14, followed by an away match with Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana on Jan. 19. Michigan State will then have back-to-back home matches, first squaring off with Wisconsin on Jan. 26, followed by third-place Ohio State on Jan. 26.
To open the final month of the regular-season, MSU is at Purdue on Feb. 2 before returning home to host Nebraska on Feb. 4. The Spartans then battle in-state foe Michigan on Feb. 9 in their final Big Ten action. Michigan State closes out regular-season action on Feb. 16, hosting Clarion and Eastern Michigan in a tri-dual.
"The thing I like about it is it sets us up two weeks before Big Ten Championships, our guys will wrestle two matches within a six-hour period. Two matches in the same day are great. It replicates the tournament atmosphere as we lead into the Big Ten Championships," Chandler said.
Michigan State will host the 2018 Big Ten Conference Wrestling Championships at the Breslin Student Events Center on Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4. This is the first time since 2007 that Michigan State has hosted the B1G Championships.
Michigan State loses only three seniors from Chandler's first season at the helm of the MSU program. The Spartans' 10th-place finish at the Big Ten Championships was their highest since also placing 10th at the 2012 Championships. MSU's 38.5 points nearly matches its point total of the last three years combined of 44.5 after 10.5 points in 2016, 12.5 points in 2015 and 21.5 points in 2014. The 38.5 points is also the Spartans' highest point total since 41.5 in 2012, showing the signs of the program's progress in the first year under Chandler.