2006-07 Spartans basketball schedule released

The 2006-07 Michigan State men's basketball schedule includes nine teams that appeared in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, including five league foes (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio State and Wisconsin) and four non-conference teams (Belmont, Boston College, Bradley and Texas).

Once again, the Michigan State men's basketball team will face a schedule loaded with games against quality opponents and contests on national television. The 2006-07 Michigan State men's basketball schedule includes nine teams that appeared in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, including five league foes (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio State and Wisconsin) and four non-conference teams (Belmont, Boston College, Bradley and Texas). Of the tournament teams, Boston College and Bradley advanced to the Sweet 16 and Texas fell just one game short of the Final Four, losing in the Elite Eight. In addition, five more opponents appeared in the 2006 NIT (BYU, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State), making it likely that 20 of the Spartans' 31 regular-season games will be against team that played in the 2006 postseason.

For comparison, Michigan State played eight 2005 NCAA Tournament teams last season, six 2004 NCAA Tournament teams in 2004-05 and 10 2003 NCAA Tournament teams in 2003-04, a year which featured one of the most difficult schedules in recent college basketball history.

"Once again, our schedule shows our commitment to playing one of the nation's most challenging schedules," said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. "With such a large percentage of our games against teams that appeared in the postseason last year, we will certainly be well tested and we need to play at a high level. Teams like Texas, Maryland and Boston College have had great success recently in some of America's best conferences. Belmont and Bradley made it to the NCAA Tournament last season, with Bradley making a great run into the Sweet 16.

"The Big Ten promises to be an exciting race. While there will be a lot of new faces in the conference, there are a lot of talented teams. Top to bottom, it could be even stronger than last year, with virtually every team having a chance to make a run at an NCAA Tournament bid."

As for television exposure, Michigan State will have at least 13 games broadcast on national networks, including six on ESPN, three on CBS, three on ESPN2 and one on ESPNU.

The final two games of the season could also be broadcast nationally, depending on television's late-season choices. As many as 11 of MSU's 16 Big Ten Conference games could be carried on either ESPN, ESPN2 or CBS. Additional television coverage will be announced at a later date.

Michigan State will play a record 19 regular-season home games at the Breslin Center this season, surpassing the previous mark of 17 established in 1996-97 and equaled in 2001-02.

During Tom Izzo's career as head coach, the Spartans are 146-21 (.874) at home, including 123-12 (.911) over the last nine years.

"With 19 home games, we look forward to our fans helping us towards a 10th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance," added Izzo.

"We take great pride in having the fifth-longest active streak in the nation, and our fans play a large role in our success. It's great that all of our Big Ten home games will take place with the students in the stands, creating a real homecourt advantage. But we will also face some challenges away from the Breslin Center.

With a game at Boston College, the possibility of playing two high-level opponents in Madison Square Garden, and a neutral-site game against BYU, we will be well prepared to open the Big Ten schedule at Iowa and Indiana."

The Spartans open the year with a pair of exhibition contests. On Nov. 1, MSU will play Grand Valley State (7 p.m.) in Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. Four days later on Nov. 5, Michigan State will conclude exhibition action against Northern Michigan (2 p.m.) in the Breslin Center.

The regular season tips off on Nov. 8-9 with the 2006 2K Sports College Hoops Classic benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer. Michigan State will host the East Lansing Regional, playing Brown on Nov. 8 (7 p.m.), while Youngstown State and Central Michigan will square off before the MSU contest (4:30 p.m.). The following day, the two winning teams will play for the regional championship and the right to advance to New York City for the semifinals and finals at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 16-17.

The East Lansing regional will also feature a consolation game, guaranteeing all four teams two games.

Maryland, Texas and St. John's will host the three other regionals, while other participants include Alcorn State, Chicago State, Hampton, Loyola (Md.), Navy, New Orleans, North Florida, St. Bonaventure and Vermont. Sandwiched in between the regionals and a possible trip to New York, Michigan State will host Citadel on Nov. 12 (5 p.m.).

In a rematch of the second-round game of the 2005 NCAA Tournament, Michigan State will host Vermont on Nov. 21 (7 p.m.), followed by a Nov. 25 contest against Oakland (2 p.m.) on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

MSU's first true road game will be a stiff test as the Spartans travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to face Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 on ESPN.

Last season, MSU defeated BC, 77-70, in the Jimmy V Classic. Although this will be the fifth meeting between the schools, it will be the first played at Boston College.

The Spartans will then play six of their next seven non-conference games at home, starting with a games against Bradley (Dec. 3, 12 p.m.) and IPFW (Dec. 6, 7 p.m.).

Last season, Bradley advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, defeating Kansas and Pittsburgh in the process. For the fourth straight season, MSU will play in the Spartan Clash at the Palace of Auburn Hills, facing BYU on Dec. 9 at 3 p.m.

In the final four non-conference games, Michigan State will host Chicago State (Dec. 16, 7 p.m.), Belmont (Dec. 19, 7 p.m.), UW-Green Bay (Dec. 23, 12 p.m.) and Loyola (Md.) (Dec. 30, 12 p.m.). Belmont appeared in the 2006 NCAA Tournament as the automatic qualifier from the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Michigan State will open and close Big Ten Conference play with back-to-back road games. The Spartans open the league slate at Iowa on Jan. 4 in a game televised by ESPN. CBS will carry MSU's next game at Indiana on Jan. 7. Tip time for the Indiana contest will be either 1 or 4:30 p.m.

Northwestern comes to East Lansing on Jan. 10 (8 p.m.) for the Big Ten home opener to be televised on ESPN Plus Local. For the second straight Sunday, the Spartans will appear on CBS as they host Illinois on Jan. 14 (1:30/4:30 p.m.).

After a road game at Penn State on Jan. 20 (4:37 p.m., ESPN Plus Regional), the Spartans return home to play Minnesota on Jan. 24 (7 p.m., ESPN Plus Local).

That game is followed by two difficult road games at Ohio State on Jan. 27 (9 p.m., ESPN) and Illinois (9 p.m., ESPN) on Jan. 30. On Feb. 3, Michigan State will play Ohio State for the second straight Saturday, this time in East Lansing (4 p.m., CBS). On Feb. 7, MSU will travel to Purdue (8 p.m., ESPN Plus Local).

Michigan State's next four Big Ten games will all be played in the Breslin Center, beginning with a Feb. 13 game against Michigan (9 p.m., ESPN). On Feb. 17, the Spartans will host Iowa (4:37 p.m., ESPN Plus Regional), followed by home games with Wisconsin (Feb. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN) and Indiana (Feb. 24, 9 p.m., ESPN).

The Spartans close out the regular-season schedule with road games at Michigan and Wisconsin. The game in Ann Arbor will be played on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. if ESPN opts to broadcast the game, or on Feb. 28 (time TBA) if televised by ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN Plus Local. The regular-season finale at Madison could be televised by CBS, ESPN or ESPN Plus Regional, with the time to be determined at a later date.

This year's Big Ten schedule does not include trips to Northwestern or Minnesota, while Penn State and Purdue will not play in East Lansing. The 2007 Big Ten Tournament will be held March 8-11 in Chicago, Ill.

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