Michigan State will take on perennial powerhouse Duke again, this time on the Blue Devils home floor in Durham, NC. The Spartans will also challenge the Stanford Cardinal in a nationally televised contest at the Palace while hosting the UCLA Bruins at the Breslin Center.
But gone are the Kansas Jayhawks, Oklahoma Sooners, Kentucky Wildcats and Syracuse Orangemen who took turns blitzing the Spartans in what was arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in NCAA recent history.
"Once again, I think we have compiled one of the toughest and best schedules in the nation," said MSU coach Tom Izzo. "In the non-conference, everyone knows about the great programs at Duke, Maryland, Stanford and a much-improved UCLA squad. But we are also playing a George Washington team that returns almost everyone from a group that played in the NIT."
The bruising 2003 non-conference schedule played a huge part in MSU limping to a 18-12 overall record, including a season ending loss to 25-9 Nevada squad.
The Spartans will participate in the BB&T classic which headlines Gary williams' Terrapins, along with George Mason and 2003 NIT entry George Washington.
The move to schedule schools in the Eastern US will likely improve Michigan State recruiting reach in that part of the nation.