Aug. 22, 2007
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball program has released its schedule for the upcoming 2007-08 season. In addition to an 18-game Big Ten schedule, highlights include a spot in the 16-team Preseason WNIT, two games at the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico, and a home game against two-time defending Big 12 Champion Oklahoma.
"I think our non-conference schedule is very challenging and will definitely prepare us for the Big Ten season," said first-year head coach Suzy Merchant. "The Big Ten is one of the top conferences in the country, so you have to get your team ready by playing quality competition. Playing 18 games in conference play makes the schedule even more difficult, but it creates excitement for the fans and the league.
"To start the season, the Preseason WNIT is loaded with quality teams," Merchant added. "Any one of those opponents in the tournament will be a good matchup for our team. Anytime you have a tournament with the likes of LSU, Maryland, Notre Dame and TCU in the mix, it's going to be tough. We have several road games, including a difficult test at Old Dominion, who made the NCAA Tournament last season. I also think the schedule benefits the fans. By hosting the Preseason WNIT, the first-ever Big Ten/ACC Women's Challenge game against Clemson, and defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma, it's an exciting schedule to start the year."
After playing exhibition games against Grand Valley State (Nov. 1) and Lake Superior State (Nov. 4), the Spartans open the regular season at home vs. IUPUI in the first round of the Preseason WNIT on Friday, Nov. 9. The 16-team tournament features a new format this fall, as it moves from a single elimination to a three-game guarantee. IUPUI went 14-16 in 2006-07, falling in the semifinals of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. MSU's second game of the WNIT is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 11. The semifinals will be on Nov. 14-15, and the championship is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 18. All games all played on home campuses, which are determined after each round. Teams that lose in the first two rounds will play consolation games on the second weekend, Nov. 16-17.
MSU will be competing in the WNIT, which is in its 14th season, for the first time in program history. In addition to Michigan State, eight teams in the tournament are coming off postseason play, including Delaware, Delaware State, East Tennessee State, LSU, Maryland, Michigan State, Notre Dame, TCU and Western Kentucky. Click here for a complete look at the Preseason WNIT, including a bracket.
Following action in the Preseason WNIT, the Spartans will head to Cancun, Mexico, for two games in the Caribbean Challenge. MSU will face Northern Illinois on Nov. 21 and Kansas State on Nov. 22. Michigan State remains on the road to take on Delaware State Monday, Nov. 26 in Dover, Del.
The Spartans return to the Breslin Center Nov. 29 for a matchup against Clemson in the inaugural Big Ten/ACC Women's Challenge. The Spartans and Tigers have only met one other time, a 75-64 Clemson victory on Dec. 18, 1989. The Tigers finished 12-18 overall and 4-10 in ACC play last season.
Four of the next five games on the schedule will be away from the friendly confines of the Breslin Center. MSU travels to Old Dominion Dec. 2 and Indiana State Dec. 8. Old Dominion earned a No. 7 seed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament and went 24-9 last season. The Lady Monarchs have won 16 straight Colonial Athletic Association titles and have advanced to the NCAA Tournament 24 times in program history, including the 1985 National Championship. Indiana State went 19-11 in 2006-07 and fell to the Spartans, 85-66, last season in East Lansing.
MSU hosts two-time Big 12 Champion Oklahoma on Sunday, Dec. 16. Michigan State defeated the Sooners, 80-60, in Norman, Okla., during the 2005-06 season in the last meeting between the two teams. OU has earned back-to-back berths in the Sweet 16 and returns consensus All-American Courtney Paris to the lineup in 2007-08.
The Spartans head to the East Coast before Christmas break to wrap up their non-conference schedule, taking on Providence Thursday, Dec. 20 and Hartford on Saturday, Dec. 22.
After break, MSU opens the 18-game Big Ten schedule at home against Minnesota (Friday, Dec. 28). It marks the first time since the 1993-94 season the Big Ten slate will consist of 18 games, instead of 16. The Spartans will have a home-and-home series with every team in the conference except Ohio State (East Lansing, Dec. 30) and Wisconsin (Madison, Wis., Jan. 2).
The Spartans host four of their first five conference games, including a date on CBS against Penn State (Saturday, Jan. 5). MSU then heads on the road for four of its next five before hosting Michigan in the Breslin Center Thursday, Jan. 31.
In February, Michigan State plays three of its first four games on the road, but closes out the regular season hosting two of its last three. The last road game of the regular season at Purdue will be televised by ESPN. MSU's final home game is set for Thursday, Feb. 28 against Illinois.
The Big Ten Tournament will take place at Conseco Fieldhouse March 6-9 in Indianapolis, while the NCAA Tournament begins March 22.
While the home Penn State game and the road Purdue game are scheduled to be televised, additional games will also be televised during the 2007-08 season. Television distribution will be released in the coming weeks.
Michigan State returns nine letterwinners and three starters from last season's team that went 24-9 overall and finished third in the Big Ten with a 13-3 conference record. The Spartans earned their school-record fifth straight NCAA Tournament bid in 2007, advancing to the second round.
MSU is consistently ranked among the nation's leaders in attendance. The Spartans finished the 2006-07 regular season ninth in the country, averaging 6,646 fans per game, marking the second consecutive season MSU has finished in the top 10 nationally in attendance. For women's basketball ticket information, please visit msuspartans.com. Deadline for renewal on season tickets is Sept. 14, while new season tickets go on sale Oct. 1.