Oakland and Michigan State will play in men's basketball in 2018, the final year of a contract that is no slam dunk to be renewed.
The Golden Grizzlies and Spartans will play Dec. 21 at Breslin Center, the last of a grueling stretch of road games for Oakland.
The game will be the 13th in the past 14 years between the friendly rivals, a series built on the friendship of coaches Greg Kampe and Tom Izzo. It will be the seventh consecutive season they've played. Michigan State leads the all-time series, 16-0, though there have been some close calls, particularly the 99-93 overtime game at The Palace in December 2015.
Since 2008, the schools have alternated playing in East Lansing and at a neutral site. Last year's game was at Little Caesars Arena.
It's unlikely that agreement can continue beyond the current contract, given Michigan State is being handcuffed by the expanded Big Ten conference schedule. There are limited nonconference dates remaining beyond 2018 — this has become a problem for mid-majors throughout the country, as they scrap to get Power Five schools on the schedule — and home games are uber-valuable.
As recently as this past January, there had been talks between Oakland and Michigan State about how to keep the series alive in some form — perhaps playing in East Lansing every or every other year — but both of the athletic directors involved in those talks, Michigan State's Mark Hollis and Oakland's Jeff Konya, are gone.
Speaking of Konya, Oakland will play at his new school, Northeastern, on Dec. 8.
Other highlights from Oakland's nonconference schedule: home against Western Michigan on Nov. 13, at UNLV on Nov. 16, at Xavier on Dec. 1 and at Georgia on Dec. 18. Oakland opens December with six nonconference games, all on the road, including stops at Fairfield and Hartford.
Oakland will host Toledo on Nov. 9, and then a holiday tournament Nov. 23-25 featuring James Madison, Oral Roberts and Northern Illinois.
This and that
Jordan Bischel is Central Michigan's new head baseball coach, after a four-year run at Northwood, where he was a two-time GLIAC coach of the year. Northwood then replaced him with former Detroit Tigers draft pick Jake Sabol, who spent the past three seasons as head coach at Alma.
... Central Michigan boosters Mike and Pam Murray (1975 and 1977 graduates, respectively) announced a gift to the athletic department in excess of $500,000, money that will be, in part, allocated to the football program and the Chippewa Champions Alumni Center.
... Former Central Michigan football coach Roy Kramer (1967-77) will be grand marshal for the school's homecoming celebration, the weekend of Oct. 6. Buffalo is the Chippewas' homecoming opponent.
... Eastern Michigan women's basketball picked up a quality transfer, Toyosi Abiola, who averaged 11.5 points her freshman season at Iona in earning MAAC rookie of the year honors. She is eligible in 2019-20.
... Eastern Michigan E-Club Hall-of-Famer Ron Johnson, a star defender in the late 1970s, died July 10 at 62. He was a first-round draft pick in 1979, and won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
... New Eastern Michigan head baseball coach Eric Roof has added his younger brother, Jonathan, to his staff. He will work with hitters and defense, after a year as a volunteer assistant at Missouri.
... Western Michigan has named Sarah Stanczyk head women's soccer coach, after four years as an assistant at DePaul. She takes over for Lauren Sinacola, who left to join the program at Notre Dame.
... Joel Whymer has taken a position on staff for Bowling Green women's basketball, after three years at Wayne State. Whymer starred at Port Huron Northern.