In total, 14 Spartan opponents played in the 2009 postseason. Highlights of the non-conference schedule include a Nov. 17 home game against Gonzaga, road trips to likely top-five opponents Texas and North Carolina and participation in the Legends Classic, featuring a rematch of the 2000 NCAA Championship game against Florida.
In what promises to be one of the best Big Ten seasons in recent years, the Spartans will face six opponents that participated in the 2009 NCAA Tournament and two more that played in the NIT.
As part of the 18-game conference slate, MSU will have single games against Ohio State (home) and Indiana (road). Michigan State returns three starters and five of its top six scorers from a 2008-09 unit that posted a 31-7 record, won the Big Ten regular season by four games and advanced to the NCAA Championship game.
"As we do each year, we've put together an exciting non-conference schedule, featuring some great teams and dangerous squads," said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. "When you combine that with a Big Ten season that could be the league's best in the last decade, you've got the makings of a very challenging schedule from start to finish.
"Right away we are playing a very good Gonzaga squad, followed closely by what are sure to be two good games in the Legends Classic in Atlantic City, including a game against a talented Florida team. In December, we play road games at North Carolina and at Texas, two squads likely to be ranked in the top five. In between, we play plenty of talented opponents all looking to make their season with a win against us. There is no doubt our non-conference schedule will have us well tested for the start of league play.
"This could prove to be the most competitive season within the Big Ten in quite some time. Last season, nine of the 11 league teams made the postseason, and many of them have made improvements. Every member of last year's all-conference first team is back, as are the league's top six scorers from last season. Night in, night out, every game in conference play is going to be tightly contested. It's a little nervous for a coach, but I know the players thrive on it, and it's great for the fans of each school."
All 18 Big Ten games will be televised by a national television network, including two on CBS, six on ESPN and six on the Big Ten Network. Network coverage for the final four games of the season has yet to be determined as three games could appear on either CBS, ESPN or Big Ten Network and one other game will be carried by ESPN, ESPN2 or Big Ten Network. Start times and television coverage for most non-conference games will be announced at a later date.
Michigan State will open its 2009-10 season at home against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 13. On Nov. 17, the Spartans will host Gonzaga. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since a triple-overtime contest in the 2005 Maui Invitational. The Bulldogs advanced to the 2009 Sweet Sixteen and will be making their first trip to East Lansing since Nov. 29, 1997.
MSU will serve as one of the four campus sites for the Legends Classic, as the Spartans will host Toledo on Nov. 20 and Valparaiso on Nov. 22. Regardless of outcome, Michigan State will then advance to the Championship Rounds at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., on Nov. 27-28. The Spartans will face Florida in the semifinals and either Rutgers or Massachusetts on the second day.
In a rematch of the 2009 NCAA Championship game, Michigan State will play at North Carolina on Dec. 1 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Despite having four players selected in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Tar Heels are a popular top-five pick in the summer rankings.
The game will be televised on ESPN at 9 p.m. The Spartans then return home to host Wofford on Dec. 4. MSU senior Isaiah Dahlman's younger brother, Noah, is a junior on the Terrier squad. Michigan State heads back out on the road on Dec. 7 for a game at The Citadel. The Bulldogs finished the 2008-09 season with a 20-13 record and played in the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
Oakland visits Michigan State on Dec. 10, as the Grizzlies are also coming off an appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. After a break for academic finals, MSU will host IPFW on Dec. 19.
Michigan State and Texas will meet for the fourth straight season, as the Spartans travel to Austin on Dec. 22 (ESPN2, 7 p.m.). The Longhorns reached the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament and are a consensus top-five pick in the summer rankings. MSU concludes the non-conference portion of its schedule with a Dec. 30 home contest against Texas Arlington.
During the Big Ten season, the Spartans will face eight conference opponents that appeared in the 2009 postseason, including six in the NCAA Tournament (Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin) and two in the NIT (Northwestern and Penn State). Five league squads (Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue) join Michigan State in virtually every Top 25 ranking released during the summer.
The Spartans open the Big Ten slate on the road at Northwestern on Jan. 2 (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network). The conference home opener will come against Wisconsin on Jan. 6 (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network), followed by a trip to Iowa on Jan. 9 (1:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).
Michigan State opens a three-game homestand with a Jan. 13 game against Minnesota (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network), followed by contests versus Illinois (3:30 p.m., CBS) and Iowa (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network). The Spartans make the return trip to Minnesota on Jan. 23 (12 p.m., CBS), and play at Michigan on Jan. 26 (7 p.m., ESPN). Northwestern journeys to East Lansing on Jan. 30 (7 p.m., Big Ten Network).
The Spartans will play their next five games on ESPN, with four of them coming on the road. The stretch starts Feb. 2 at Wisconsin (9 p.m.) and is followed by a trip to Illinois on Feb. 6 (9 p.m.), as the Spartans and Illini will meet on ESPN's College Gameday. It will be the fifth time the Big Ten Conference will be featured on College Gameday, with Michigan State participating in four of the five contests. MSU returns home on Feb. 9 for a game against Purdue (9 p.m.), followed by trips to Penn State on Feb. 13 (12 p.m.) and Indiana on Feb. 16 (7 p.m.).
Michigan State wraps up the regular season with three of its final four games in the Breslin Center. The dates and start times for the final four games will be announced at a later date depending on television selections. The homestretch begins with the only meeting of the regular season against Ohio State on either Feb. 20 or 21. MSU will make its final road trip of the season one week later to Purdue to play on either Feb. 27 or 28.
The Spartans open the final week of the season at home against Penn State on either March 2, 3 or 4 and conclude the regular season against in-state rival Michigan on either March 6 or 7.
The 13th-annual Big Ten Tournament will run from March 11-14 in Indianapolis. The 2010 NCAA Tournament opens March 18, concluding with the Final Four at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium on April 3 and 5.