Michigan State Basketball once again has a very challenging schedule for the 2022-23 season.
Michigan State Basketball has not lived up to its own high program expectations these past two seasons going a combined 38-25 overall and 20-20 in Big Ten play. However, Izzo and the Spartans are not shying away from playing top-tier competition this season as their 2022-23 schedule is beginning to take shape.
Even with only 10 scholarship players and three of those ten being true freshmen entering this upcoming season, the Spartans did not take the easy way out scheduling and may end up having the most difficult schedule among power five conference teams. Let’s take a look at what we know about Michigan State’s schedule at this time.
The latest edition to the Spartans’ schedule came when it was announced that Michigan State will be traveling to South Bend, Indiana to face off against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this year.
Before that game takes place, Michigan State plays Kentucky in the Champions Classic to open the season. The Spartans along with Duke, Kanas, and the Wildcats have participated in this four team event since it began in 2011.
Not long after, the Spartans travel to Portland, Oregon as participants in the Phil Knight Invitational. They could face any one of these seven teams in Iowa State, Alabama, North Carolina, Oregon, Portland, UConn, and Villanova. Michigan State will play three games in this tournament in hopes of winning their first non-conference tournament since they won the Las Vegas Invitational in 2018 when they defeated Texas in the championship game.
It is not confirmed and only in the planning stages but Michigan State could play Gonzaga in San Diego on Veterans Day. There is no guarantee that this game will actually take place this year but it appears both sides are motivated to play this game.
Michigan State knows who they are playing in Big Ten conference play. Not playing Wisconsin and Illinois at home and not playing on the road at Northwestern and Minnesota make for the Spartans having a difficult conference schedule.
Home: Minnesota, Maryland, Northwestern
Away: Illinois, Wisconsin, Penn State
Home/Away: Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Rutgers
Non-Conference Schedule as known at this time
Kentucky in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis on November 15th
One of three teams in the Phil Knight Invitational from November 24th through the 27th
At Notre Dame on November 30th in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Overall outlook at their schedule at this time
This may end up being Michigan State’s most difficult and challenging schedule since their 2018-19 season. Especially if they play Gonzaga in San Diego as well as playing a team like Providence on the road in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, the Spartans along with an arduous conference schedule, have a tall mountain to climb to get back to how they were at the end of the shortened 2019-2020 season.
It wasn’t long ago when Michigan State shared the Big Ten regular-season title in 2020 and won the Big Ten tournament and made it to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament in 2019. The Spartans had a three-year stretch from 2018 to 2020 where they shared or won the Big Ten regular-season title outright. Also, from 2012 to 2019, Michigan State won the Big Ten tournament four times.
The emphasis of talking about the Spartans previous success is that they won and accomplished success on the basketball court with future NBA players like Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson Jr., Xavier Tillman and point guards like Cassius Winston. Fast forward to the past two seasons which failed to produce an NBA first-round draft pick or had a consistent starter at the point guard position, having a grueling schedule this upcoming season with only ten scholarship players can be a recipe for another disappointing season.
You can play well with not having a full roster of 13 scholarship players like Duke last season but the Blue Devils had the talent to do so. Duke made it to the Final Four and in their four-point loss to North Carolina, they only played seven players and two of them played 17 or fewer minutes in that game.
However, that Blue Devils team had four players go in the first round of the NBA draft over two months later. Michigan State has some very solid players going into the season but they can’t afford any injuries or having players miss multiple games for various reasons with only seven experienced scholarship players and three incoming scholarship true freshmen on their roster.
Time will tell if this season’s Spartans team can get back to the level of play that was last seen before the COVID-19 pandemic ended Winston’s and Michigan State’s season in 2020. This will be a big challenge for this Spartan team led by A.J. Hoggard, Joey Hauser, and Malik Hall and with Izzo not utilizing the transfer portal this off-season, Michigan State needs to stay healthy through what appears to be a long and grueling schedule in order to have a successful season in the eyes of their loyal fanbase.
It’s not a make or break season for the Hall of Fame head coach but without filling those last three scholarships and having two new assistant coaches, the Spartans have a lot to prove this season and it should be a very interesting journey this season for the those wearing the green and white in East Lansing.