MSU, CMU haven't played since 1997; that streak will carry on despite Izzo's request

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

They haven't played in 23 years, so why start now?

Central Michigan men's basketball isn't planning to play Michigan State this week, despite interest from Spartans coach Tom Izzo in getting the Chippewas on the schedule.

Central Michigan head coach Keno Davis

A Central athletic department spokesperson said Central Michigan is focused on its Mid-American Conference opener against rival Western Michigan, scheduled for Friday. Central was hosting NAIA school St. Francis (Illinois) on Monday.

A game with Michigan State would've given Central Michigan (2-3) a payday of $40,000 or more, but also a third game in a week — and it's also finals week in Mt. Pleasant.

It's also finals week at Michigan State (6-0, ranked No. 4 in the nation), which played Sunday at Oakland and isn't scheduled to play again until the Big Ten opener at Northwestern this Sunday.

Izzo has been trying to find a new nonconference game for the schedule after Michigan State's game at Virginia was canceled last week because of ongoing COVID-19 issues at Virginia. He has run out of local Division I teams to play; Michigan State already has played Eastern Michigan, Detroit Mercy, Western Michigan and Oakland.

Central Michigan and Michigan State have played 33 times, with the Spartans winning 30 of those, but they haven't played since 1997. They've played twice in Izzo's tenure as Michigan State's head coach. Izzo hadn't played Detroit Mercy since 2001, until they played earlier this month; his teams play all the other state mid-majors frequently, including Oakland every season.

Scheduling games on the fly has been a new thing early in the 2020-21 season, with so many last-minute cancellations because of COVID-19. Michigan saw N.C. State have to cancel its ACC/Big Ten Challenge game, and quickly moved to schedule Toledo instead.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984