Michigan State’s schedule this past year was extremely difficult. That’s been well documented, and it appears next year’s schedule will be equally tough for the Spartans.
Michigan State made some scheduling news last week when it was announced they would be part of an all-Michigan doubleheader at the brand new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The Spartans will renew what’s become an annual matchup with Oakland University, and Michigan will face the University of Detroit in the doubleheader event on December 16th. According to a Detroit Free Press story, the idea originated from Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis — which should come as no surprise — and is something head coach Tom Izzo is excited about.
"Hopefully you've got four good programs, you've got our state covered, you've got a lot of living alums," Izzo said during the event’s reveal press conference. "The excitement of playing, the job Tom Wilson has done here. To be involved in the city, bring our kids down here and what's going on, Michigan State, Tom Izzo, proud to be a part of it. Honored to be with these prestigious (coaches) and maybe what will end up as the greatest basketball facility in the entire country."
While the Spartans will be heavy favorites in this big venue matchup against the Oakland Grizzlies, it’ll still be a great opportunity. Especially for local alumni. It should also be at least one guaranteed win for the Spartans, and if you look at the other non-conference games on the schedule, that won’t be something said often.
The entire 2017-18 Michigan State schedule won’t be released until August but we already can start to piece together some of the Spartans’ non-conference schedule.
Michigan State will start off the season with the annual Champions Classic on November 14 against Duke. Next year’s Champions Classic will take place at the United Center in Chicago and should feature a top 10 — and possibly top five — matchup between the Spartans and Blue Devils. It’s unclear if this will be the official season opener for Michigan State, but it should be at least one of the first games on their 2017-18 schedule.
Later in the month of November the Spartans will be tested again in a huge early season tournament — the PK80- Phil Knight Invitational. The tournament will feature 16 teams with two separate eight-team brackets, similar to the legendary Maui Invitational, with some of the games best teams. The 16 teams participating are Michigan State, Ohio State, Arkansas, Butler, UConn, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Gonzaga, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Portland, Portland State, Stanford and Texas. The tournament will feature three games for each team and last from November 23rd til the 26th in Portland. The brackets and schedules have not been released yet, but Spartan fans should be excited based on the teams that make up this tournament.
The last known notable non-conference game that we can expect on the Spartans’ schedule is a road trip to Florida. There has not been a released date yet, but a home-and-home agreement between the two schools has Michigan State traveling to Gainesville next year.
It should also be noted that Michigan State will surely be part of the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge again next year that normally takes place in early December. In the past the matchups for the Big Ten-ACC Challenge have been announced in May so we should know later this month who the Spartans draw.
With Spartans as Big Ten favorites my guess is it’ll be either North Carolina or Louisville. It won’t be Duke since they already are playing each other in the Champions Classic. Michigan State played on the road during last year’s challenge so I believe they’ll be back at the Breslin Center this next year. North Carolina would be the logical pick since Louisville just played at the Breslin Center two years ago. However, North Carolina could land in the Spartans’ bracket of the PK80, so to avoid a possible rematch a few weeks later, Louisville may be the choice. Either way it’ll be another big time matchup for the Spartans.
So that’s what we know so far about next year’s Michigan State schedule. I know that was kind of a lot so below is an easier map of what we already know about the non-conference schedule:
- Nov. 14: Duke at the United Center in Chicago
- Nov. 23-26: PK80- Phil Knight Invitational in Portland
- Early December: Big Ten-ACC Challenge
- Dec. 16: Oakland at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit
- TBA: at Florida
There will certainly be some other additions to complete the 13-game non-conference schedule but so far the slate looks exciting. High expectations will meet an eventful schedule for the Spartans in 2017-18. It doesn’t get much better then that.
If I missed any other already known non-conference matchups for the 2017-18 season feel free to post those in the comment section below!