EAST LANSING — In the past, Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo has tested his team early on in the season with marquee nonconference games to prepare for Big Ten and postseason play.
This year was no different.
The Spartans have officially released their full nonconference schedule for the 2013-2014 season which features some big names.
On November 12, at the United Center in Chicago, MSU will face Kentucky in the third-annual Champions Classic (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET), in a matchup of consensus top-3 preseason teams. The next big test for the Spartans will be on Dec. 4 when they host North Carolina in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. And to conclude their nonconference schedule, Izzo will take his team to Madison Square Garden on Feb.1 where they will face Georgetown as part of the Super Saturday Hoops at MSG.
After the Spartans finish the Champions Classic they will begin play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic later that week. MSU will host Columbia on Nov. 15 and Portland on Nov. 18. Izzo’s team will then travel to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., to join the other host schools, Oklahoma, Seton Hall, and Virginia Tech, in the championship rounds on Nov. 22-23. MSU will play Virginia Tech in the second semifinal (approx. 9:30 p.m.; TruTV), with the winner advancing to the championship game to either play Oklahoma or Seton Hall.
“There’s no question we’ve put together another challenging schedule,” said Izzo in a press release. “It’s difficult right from the beginning with games against Kentucky and North Carolina, along with a trip to Brooklyn for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Add a game at the Palace against Oakland, a road game against Texas in late December, and the Super Bowl Saturday event with Georgetown, and we have a great mix not only of different teams and playing styles, but also venues and atmospheres.
“I’m excited about the home schedule as well for our loyal fans, playing North Carolina at home, in addition to the Big Ten teams that will come to Breslin this season. The Big Ten was outstanding last season, and yet as I look at this year, seeing six teams ranked in the Top 25, sometimes as many as four in the Top 15, I think this year could be even better.“
The Spartans open the season at home for the first time since the 2010-2011 season against McNeese State on Friday, Nov. 8.
The Big Ten is expected to release the full conference schedule within the next couple of weeks.
Below is the remaining nonconference schedule for Michigan State:
Nov. 29: Mt. St. Mary’s, East Lansing
Dec. 14: Oakland, Auburn Hills, Mich., Palace of Auburn Hills
Dec. 17: North Florida, East Lansing
Dec. 28: New Orleans, East Lansing