MSU Announces 2011-12 Men’s Basketball Schedule

Spartans will play 20 of 31 games against teams that appeared in 2011 postseason.

 

The Big Ten Conference announced the 2011-12 men’s basketball schedule on Wednesday.  Michigan State will face a slate that includes 11 teams that played in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. In total, MSU will face 15 opponents that played in the 2011 postseason, as seven of the 13 non-conference opponents appeared in the NCAA or NIT, while six Big Ten opponents played in the NCAA Tournament, and two more appeared in the NIT.

 

Highlights of the non-conference schedule include back-to-back games against North Carolina and Duke to open the season on an aircraft carrier in San Diego , and in Madison Square Garden in New York City , as well as a trip to Washington to face Gonzaga, and a home contest against ACC contender Florida State . With the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten Conference, the Spartans will play seven league opponents twice, and four teams once. MSU will play Iowa and Penn State only at home, and will travel to Illinois and Northwestern for the lone games against the Illini and Wildcats.

 

“With the one-two punch of North Carolina and Duke right out of the gates, it sets the tone for what, on paper, could prove to be one of our most difficult schedules ever,” said MSU coach Tom Izzo. “Everyone said last year’s schedule was one of our toughest, and yet, this year we are playing more teams that appeared in the NCAA Tournament and postseason last year.

 

“The open of our schedule provides incredible exposure not only for the program, but also Michigan State University . You won’t find another team in America with a stronger open to the season. Add our trip to play a strong Gonzaga team in Washington with trips to San Diego and New York , and we’ll have the opportunity to play in some great venues, but we’ll also need to be mentally strong as we deal with the travel. It seems that our home game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against Florida State almost gets overlooked, but they are a strong contender within their conference as well, often ranked just behind Duke and North Carolina , and in nearly everyone’s preseason Top 25.

 

“The road doesn’t get any easier in conference play. I’ve seen six or seven different teams listed in different experts’ Top 25 or 30. With the addition of Nebraska , we increase back to four teams that we’ll only play once. With so many talented teams, the conference race might ultimately be decided by the single plays on the schedule. What makes the Big Ten great, however, is that there are no guarantees, especially when you consider the great players, coaches and home court advantages throughout the league. It only ensures that the gauntlet that begins with our opening two games continues all the way through March Madness.”

 

Michigan State will open the 2011-12 season in the Carrier Classic, playing North Carolina on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson on Veterans Day (Nov. 11). The Tar Heels are a popular pick as the No. 1 team in the nation to open the season, returning all five starters from last year’s ACC regular-season championship and Elite Eight team. The game will be televised by ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.

 

Four days after playing the 2011 ACC regular-season champion, the Spartans will face 2011 ACC Tournament Champion Duke in the first year of the Champions Classic on Nov. 15. Over the next three years, Michigan State , Duke, Kansas and Kentucky will face each other once in the Classic. This year’s doubleheader will be played in New York ’s Madison Square Garden . ESPN will broadcast the MSU-Duke game at 7 p.m.

 

The next four games on MSU’s schedule will be a part of the Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational – a five-team, four-game round-robin multi-team event. Michigan State ’s first home game of the season will be Nov. 18 as the Spartans host Texas Southern. The Tigers appeared in the 2011 NIT after capturing the regular season SWAC Championship. Two days later (Nov. 20), MSU will host Arkansas-Little Rock (BTN, 6 p.m.). The Trojans won the 2011 Sun Belt Tournament and earned a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament field. On Nov. 23, Michigan State welcomes Milwaukee (BTN.com, 7 p.m.) to Breslin Center . The Panthers were tri-champions in the Horizon League and faced Northwestern in the 2011 NIT. MSU plays at Eastern Michigan on Nov. 27 marking the first meeting between the Spartans and Eagles since December 1999, and the first game in Ypsilanti since December 1987. 

 

The Spartans close out November with their third ACC opponent of the month, hosting Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 30 (ESPN, 7 p.m.). The Seminoles advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, and are slated to be one of the top squads in their conference this year.

 

Nebraska Omaha travels to East Lansing on Dec. 4. Last year, the Spartans and Mavericks met in an exhibition game, but Nebraska Omaha is transitioning to Division I this season. MSU will then host Central Connecticut State on Dec. 7.

 

Michigan State faces another tough challenge as it travels to Spokane , Wash. , to face Gonzaga on Dec. 10. This is a return game from the Bulldogs’ trip to East Lansing in November 2008. Gonzaga has appeared in 13 straight NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the second round last season. The game will be televised by ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET.
To close out the non-conference portion of the schedule, Michigan State will host three opponents in six days. The Spartans will play Bowling Green on Dec. 17 (BTN, 7 p.m.), UMKC on Dec. 19 (BTN, 8:30 p.m.) and Lehigh on Dec. 22. (Additional times and television carriers for non-conference games will be announced at a later date.)

 

The Spartans open Big Ten play on Dec. 28 at home against Indiana (BTN, 7 p.m.). MSU will then play at Nebraska on New Year’s Eve (BTN, 3 p.m.). This is the Spartans’ first trip to Lincoln since 1994, and the first ever meeting between the Spartans and Huskers as conference foes. Michigan State will play at Wisconsin on Jan. 3 (ESPN2, 7 p.m.). MSU will host Iowa on Jan. 10 (BTN, 7 p.m.), followed by back-to-back road games at Northwestern on Jan. 14 (BTN, 3 p.m.) and Michigan on Jan. 17 (ESPN, 7 p.m.).

 

Four of Michigan State’s next five games will be played at Breslin Center, beginning with a Jan. 21 contest vs. Purdue (ESPN, 12 p.m.), followed by a visit from Minnesota on Jan. 25 (BTN, 8:30 p.m.). After a weekend off, the Spartans travel to Illinois on Jan. 31 (ESPN, 7 p.m.) for the season’s only meeting between the two squads.  MSU is back at home for a Super Bowl Sunday contest against Michigan on Feb. 5. (CBS, 1 p.m.). The final game of the stretch comes Feb. 8 vs. Penn State (BTN, 6:30 p.m.).

 

On Feb. 11, MSU will travel to Ohio State (ESPN, 6 p.m.), followed by a home game vs. Wisconsin on Feb. 16 (ESPN/ESPN2, 7 p.m.). The Spartans then face back-to-back road contests at Purdue on Feb. 19 (TV and Time TBA) and Minnesota on Feb. 22 (BTN, 8:30 p.m.). Michigan State is back at home to host Nebraska on Feb. 25 (BTN, 8 p.m.). In the final week of the season, MSU travels to Indiana on Feb. 28 (ESPN, 7 p.m.), and hosts Ohio State on March 4 (TV and Time TBA).

 

Notes:

  • While Michigan State has the nation’s third longest active streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (14), three of the Spartans’ opponents are also in the top six on that list, including Duke (2nd, 16), Gonzaga (t-4th, 13), Wisconsin (t-4th, 13).
  • Michigan State becomes the first team to open the season against North Carolina and Duke in back-to-back games since Wake Forest and North Carolina State did it in November 1976.
  • Fifteen of Michigan State ’s 2011-12 opponents appeared in the 2011 postseason:
    • 11 NCAA Teams (6 Big Ten, 5 Non-conference) – Arkansas-Little Rock, Duke, Florida State, Gonzaga, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
    • 4 NIT Teams (2 Big Ten, 2 Non-conference) – Northwestern, Nebraska , Texas Southern, Milwaukee
  • Fifteen of Michigan State ’s 31 games will be against teams that appeared in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, while 20 of the 31 contests will be against teams that appeared in the 2011 postseason.
  • Preseason rankings: Spartan opponents
    • Andy Katz (ESPN.com) – North Carolina-1, Ohio State-3, Duke-5, Wisconsin-11, Florida State-21, Michigan-23, Gonzaga-25
    • Jeff Goodman (CBSSports.com) – North Carolina-1, Ohio State-3, Duke-6, Gonzaga-18, Wisconsin-19, Florida State-20