As the 2016-17 season gets closer and closer, more and more teams are starting to release their schedules for the upcoming year.
According to D1 Hoops Schedules on Twitter, over 215 teams have released their non-conference slates for 2016-17.
On Thursday, a handful of teams in the Big Ten released their full schedules, including the Michigan State Spartans. Head Coach Tom Izzo isn’t afraid to play any team in the country, and will play them seemingly anywhere.
Izzo’s mindset is evident when looking at the schedule that awaits the Spartans this season. Power conference teams decorate the non-conference slate, but trips to the Bahamas, Hawaii, and New York City are the highlights.
There are three non-conference games in particular that basketball fans across the country won’t want to miss for Michigan State this season. While all of their games will provide a high level of excitement and entertainment, these three are arguably the most exciting, for varying reasons.
Nov. 11th, 2016: vs. Arizona Wildcats
Armed Forces Classic, Honolulu, Hawaii
On opening night, one will be hard-pressed to find a better game to watch than this one. Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats take on Izzo and the Spartans in the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu, in what will be a top 25 battle between two teams relying heavily on young players to load the way after losing several seniors.
This will be a good indication of what fans can expect from both teams, and it gives everyone a good look at the incoming freshmen against top competition. Michigan State will be led by senior Eron Harris, and freshmen Miles Bridges and Josh Langford. On the flip side, Arizona will rely on sophomore Allonzo Trier and their own talented freshmen, headlined by Lauri Markkanen and Kobi Simmons.
Nov. 29th, 2016: @ Duke Blue Devils
ACC/Big Ten Challenge; Durham, North Carolina
Duke and Michigan State last met in the 2014-15 season, when they played each other twice. Once was a part of the Champions Classic in November, and the other meeting was in the Final Four. Both times, Duke put up 81 points and took down the Spartans.
In 2016-17, the Spartans will have revenge on their minds. In order to exact said revenge, they will have to do so inside one of the nation’s toughest venues: Cameron Indoor Stadium. Add in the fact that Duke is bringing in a top-two recruiting class, and welcomes back guard Grayson Allen, who is a front-runner for Player of the Year, and the odds are stacked against the Spartans from the outset.
But, one thing is for certain, Tom Izzo is never to be counted out before the final buzzer. He will have his team ready to battle the Blue Devils from start to finish.
Plus, you can’t go wrong with a Coach K v. Coach Izzo showdown.
Dec. 21st, 2016: vs. Oakland Golden Grizzlies
East Lansing, Michigan
While the Golden Grizzlies will be without star guard Kay Felder, the rematch from last year’s game that took place inside the Palace of Auburn Hills is a can’t miss game. Michigan State found themselves in a battle last year against Oakland, and are hoping for a better showing on their home floor this year.
At the time, the Spartans were the #1 team in the country, but were without star guard Denzel Valentine. In his place, Bryn Forbes stepped up and scored 32 points to help the Spartans hold off the Grizzlies, coming away with the 99-93 victory in overtime. Felder put up a game-high 37 points before fouling out of the game.
Despite Valentine, Forbes, and Felder among the big names gone this year for both teams, a rematch from last year’s thriller is something you won’t want to miss.
– T. Bennett