The Michigan State Spartans are reportedly in advanced discussions with the Gonzaga Bulldogs to play a neutral site game on an aircraft carrier in San Diego Bay on Veteran’s Day, per Jon Rothstein. The game would be played on Friday, Nov. 11.
NEWS: Gonzaga and Michigan State are in advanced discussions to play a neutral site game on an aircraft carrier in San Diego on Veterans Day (11/11), according to multiple sources.https://t.co/98pEv0bPly— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 14, 2022
The matchup and its venue is still tentative depending on whether the US Navy will have a carrier in port and available to host the game that day. Rothstein states that multiple sources confirmed the two programs are proceeding with plans with the hope that it comes together, however. Given the uncertainty with the military’s ability to accommodate the matchup, there is no timeline for an official announcement at this point.
Should the game occur in the end, it will mark the second time a Tom Izzo led Spartan squad has played a Veterans Day matchup on a US Nimitz Class aircraft carrier. MSU took on the North Carolina Tar Heels on Nov. 11, 2011 in the Carrier Classic on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). UNC defeated Michigan State by a final score of 67-55 in front of 8,111 fans that included dignitaries such as President Barack Obama. A backup court was constructed in the hangar below the flight deck in the case of inclement weather for that game, but it was not needed.
In 2012, there was an effort to play a double-header on the decommissioned USS Yorktown in Charleston Harbor, but the men’s game was eventually cancelled due to condensation on the court and no future games were scheduled in later years as a result.
As for the potential 2022 matchup, Michigan State is coming off a disappointing 23-13 season that saw a Round of 32 exit from the NCAA Tournament while Gonzaga finished 28-4 with a Sweet 16 loss to Arkansas. Gonzaga is expected to enter the season as a top-10 team while Michigan State is more likely to be receiving votes.
The two programs have only played five times overall with the most recent being a Spartan victory of 74-67 on Dec. 10, 2011. MSU is 4-1 overall with the lone Gonzaga win coming Nov. 22, 2005 in a 109-106 triple overtime game.
As for the US Navy, there are currently three carriers based out of Naval Base San Diego. Currently, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), and the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) are all homeported in San Diego. The Roosevelt is in dry dock in Bremerton, Washington until at least November being fitted for the ability to carry F-35C fighter aircraft and is thus likely not available. So it will instead fall to either the Vinson again or the Lincoln.