At first glance of the Spartan’s non-conference schedule, you can already sense difficulty and interesting headlines in the future. Michigan State has to not just combat the Big 10 schedule, but also some tough non-conference opponents, with the hardest and most interesting one coming in early November. Tom Izzo is known for scheduling a grueling non-conference schedule, but his teams always seem to perceiver through it all.
It was a year or two in the making before 11/11/11 matchup North Carolina was set in stone. The game against UNC will be as neutral a site can ever be. It will be played on an aircraft carrier on the shore of San Diego. The Tarheels and Spartans play each other almost every other year and it has turned into a friendly rivalry. It features two of the best coaches in all of college basketball along with a selected few McDonald’ All-Americans and great fans.
The first seven games of the Michigan State schedule will set the table and bar for the rest of the season. Besides the battle on 11/11/11 with North Carolina, they play Duke at Madison Square Garden. Blue Devil fans are notorious for going to MSG and making it a Duke home affair at a neutral site. The Duke Blue Devils have a lot of questions marks, including scoring after the senior departures of both Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, along with stud Kyrie Irving. Duke always knows how to compete, and Coach K is known for squeezing all the basketball juices out of his players.
In the following three games, the Spartans get to come back to their friendly confines of the Breslin Center to host a small tournament with some of the small teams in the NCAA including Milwaukee. That tournament runs close to the Thanksgiving break.
Finally, they have to head east to Ypsilanti for a game at Eastern Michigan. These games are all before the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.