Rumors and reports surfaced last week that the Big Ten-ACC Challenge schedule would be released soon but there has still been no word yet.
With the reveal expected to be coming any day now, many have begun to predict who their favorite team will be playing. For some teams it might not be as exciting to find out who they’ll be slotted with in this prestigious event, but for those at the top of the league it is a big deal. This includes the Michigan State Spartans.
Predicting who the Spartans will face is trickier than many think. As the hands down favorite to win the Big Ten next year, you can expect Michigan State to face one of the big boys in the ACC. However, that won’t include traditional powers Duke and North Carolina.
Michigan State is already scheduled to play Duke as part of the annual Champions Classic on Nov. 14 and it was announced last week that North Carolina is in the same bracket as the Spartans in the Phil Knight Invitational. So both of those blue blood programs can be crossed off the list as possible opponents in this year’s Big Ten-ACC Challenge.
So what does that leave for Michigan State? Who else is an equal opponent from the ACC that Sparty will draw? Let me help you out with that. Below are three possible opponents Michigan State will face in this year’s Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Take a look and let me know what you think of these possible opponents in the comment section.
If you want a top 10 matchup for the Spartans, then Louisville would be your best choice. Like Michigan State, Louisville will enter next season as one of the favorites to reach the Final Four so we are staring at a huge early season battle. Not to mention we are talking about two of the game’s greatest coaches in Tom Izzo and Rick Pitino.
However, there are some possible logistical issues with this dream matchup. Michigan State hasn’t played two straight years on the road in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge since 2009 and 2010, and Michigan State traveled to Cameron Indoor Stadium last year. So the Spartans will be at home next year then, what’s the big deal? Well the issue is Louisville visited the Breslin Center just two years ago during the Big Ten-ACC Challenge so odds are they won’t be returning to East Lansing again this year.
So for this matchup to work Michigan State most likely will have to travel down to the Bluegrass State. I’m not saying that it won’t happen but odds are the Spartans will be hosting a game during this year’s challenge and thus Louisville probably won’t be their opponent. Too bad right?
Michigan State and Notre Dame have a historic rivalry on the football gridiron so why not bring it over to the basketball court?
These two midwest rivals took part in a thrilling overtime battle back in 2014’s edition of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge down in South Bend, so a return trip to East Lansing would make sense. Not to mention both teams should be ranked heading into next season — Gary Parrish of CBS Sports has Michigan State at No. 3 and Notre Dame at No. 13 in his updated way-too-early rankings for next season.
This matchup also works logistically since Michigan State is due for a home game this year and Notre Dame should be traveling somewhere after hosting Iowa last year. This matchup may not be as sexy as Michigan State-Louisville since Notre Dame doesn’t have the same amount of basketball prestige, but it’s still a great matchup. Both of these teams will finish in the upper tier of their leagues next year, and who knows maybe this could be the beginning of a regular rivalry matchup between these two schools.
-Miami (FL) Hurricanes
How about a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament first round game? Michigan State got the best of Miami during the 8-9 seed matchup but both teams should be a lot better in 2017-18.
Miami returns six of its top eight scorers from last year’s team and also welcomes in a highly touted recruiting class. Because of that Parrish has the Hurricanes at No. 11 in his rankings. So we are talking about most likely another top 25 matchup. That’s what we are all looking for right?
Like Notre Dame, Miami was at home last year during the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and should be on the road this year. One issue with the Hurricanes, however, is if they are considered to be on the same level of Michigan State when it comes to prestige. Miami has drawn Rutgers, Nebraska and Illinois in the last three Big Ten-ACC Challenges despite being a regular NCAA Tournament team. Enough said there. The Hurricanes did host the Spartans in 2012 — which they won — so maybe they’ll get a chance to run with the big boys again this year.
-A few others to consider
Florida State - The Seminoles should be solid next year and would create an interesting matchup to watch.
Virginia - Tom Izzo vs. Tony Bennett round three? The Spartans have ousted the Cavaliers twice in the last four NCAA Tournaments.
Syracuse - The Orange had a down year last season but they still carry a prestigious name that’ll create buzz.