Aug. 25, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball program announced its 2009-10 schedule today. The Spartans, coming off an appearance in the 2009 NCAA Sweet Sixteen, will square off with 15 schools who qualified for postseason play last season, including a possible 10 who were in the NCAA Tournament. In addition, at least nine of the Spartans' Big Ten games will be aired on national television, including one on CBS, two on ESPN2 and six on the Big Ten Network. The times and television arrangements for the non-conference games will be announced at a later date.
"The 2009-10 season should be an exciting year for Michigan State women's basketball," said Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant. "Our non-conference schedule will provide many difficult challenges as we prepare for the Big Ten Conference season.
"Facing 15 schools that appeared in last year's postseason, including national powers North Carolina and Notre Dame, will be a great test for us throughout the season. We are thrilled to bring this quality of women's college basketball to our Spartan fans."
The Spartans return 11 of 12 letterwinners from last season, including their top six scorers and top eight rebounders, from a team that won 22 games, finished second in the Big Ten and reached its third Sweet Sixteen.
The 2009-10 season kicks off with exhibition games at the Breslin Center against Wayne State (Thurs., Nov. 5) and Grand Valley State (Sun., Nov. 8). The Spartans then hit the road for a two-game swing to begin the regular season, squaring off at Dayton, who made the WNIT for the second-straight season and finished the season with a 21-14 mark, on Friday, Nov. 13 and at Detroit on Sunday, Nov. 15.
The home regular season opener is set for Thursday, Nov. 19 against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 14th straight year and return all 12 letterwinners from last season, return to the Breslin Center for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
Michigan State follows with a neutral site contest against Western Michigan on Sunday, Nov. 22 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. A homecoming game for senior Allyssa DeHaan, the Spartans play in Grand Rapids for the first time since facing Marquette on Dec. 2, 2001.
"I can't think of a better way to spend my hometown day than playing in my hometown; what an honor," said DeHaan. "For the past three years fans from Grand Rapids have made the trek to East Lansing to watch us play, now I'm coming home to them."
MSU remains away from home over the Thanksgiving holiday, traveling to the Grand Bahama Island for the Junkanoo Jam. The Spartans begin play on Friday, Nov. 27 against George Washington, a 2008-09 WNIT team, and will move on to face Marist or Oklahoma State on Saturday, Nov. 28. Marist won the MAAC regular season and tournament championships last season, en route to a 29-win season and a trip to the NCAAs, while Oklahoma State advanced to the WNIT.
The Green and White return to East Lansing to begin a stretch of six consecutive home games, against five teams who won over 20 games and appeared in the postseason last year. The run begins with the Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup against perennial national power, North Carolina on Thursday, Dec. 3. The Tar Heels went 28-7 last season, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament and finishing the season ranked No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
Big Ten play begins early this season with Indiana coming to the Breslin Center on Sunday, Dec. 6 for a 12 p.m. contest on the Big Ten Network. MSU will play 18 league games again this season, facing every school twice, expect for Iowa (road only) and Illinois (home only).
The Spartans continue with their final four non-conference games before getting back into conference play. Back-to-back NCAA Tournament teams make their way to East Lansing with Xavier coming to town on Wednesday, Dec. 9 and Florida Gulf Coast following on Sunday, Dec. 13. Xavier won the Atlantic-10 regular season crown and won 25 games overall, while FGCU was victorious in 26 contests, including taking home both the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament titles.
The homestand continues with Washington coming to the Breslin Center as part of a men's and women's basketball doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 19. The Huskies will be the first Pac-10 school to play in the Breslin since UCLA on Nov. 17, 2001, and only the fifth-ever to play in East Lansing. The non-conference schedule concludes with a matchup against WNIT qualifier and 23-game winner, St. Bonaventure on Monday, Dec. 21.
Michigan State picks up Big Ten play after the holiday season, traveling to Wisconsin for a Monday, Dec. 28 battle with the Badgers. The Spartans will then return home for a New Year's Eve contest with local rival Michigan, set to air on the Big Ten Network. A game at Indiana begins the new year, as they square off for the second time on Sunday, Jan. 3 at 12 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
A two-game homestand begins with a Saturday afternoon (Jan. 9, 2 p.m.) showdown with Ohio State on CBS, the only Big Ten game on CBS this season. The second game of the season against Wisconsin follows on Thursday, Jan. 14. A trip to Penn State on Sunday, Jan. 17 is quickly followed by a home contest against Purdue on the Big Ten Network on Thursday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
The Spartans close out the month of January with two road games, starting with their first of two contests on ESPN2 at Minnesota on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 3 p.m. and finishing with a trip to Northwestern on Thursday, Jan. 28.
February begins with Penn State at the Breslin Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, and continues with road tests at Iowa on Sunday, Feb. 7 at 4:30 p.m. on BTN and at Michigan on Thursday, Feb. 11. Northwestern comes to East Lansing for MSU's last scheduled Big Ten Network contest of the regular season on Sun., Feb. 14 at 12 p.m., before the Spartans host Illinois for their lone meeting of the season on Thursday, Feb. 18.
Michigan State has a tough end to the regular season, closing with games at Ohio State and Purdue, and a home battle with Minnesota. The trip to Columbus is set for Sunday, Feb. 21 on ESPN2 at 3 p.m., while both the Purdue (Thurs., Feb. 25) and Minnesota (Sunday, Feb. 28) games are BTN wildcard slots.
The Big Ten Tournament will again return to the Conseco Field House in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 4-7. The NCAA Tournament will begin on March 20 and run until the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio, Texas on April 4 and 6.