East Lansing – — Tom Izzo never has been a fan of not playing every Big Ten team twice, but with expansion to 14 schools, it has made scheduling difficult.
Still, the Michigan State coach believes his team is at a disadvantage playing five teams twice and eight once — four at home.
The four road one-plays — No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 21 Nebraska, No. 25 Iowa and Rutgers.
"I said it before, I'm going to say it again, pretty soon I'm going to vote to play everybody twice," Izzo said. "This year I'm not sure what everybody else got, but of those top-six teams that everybody has ranked in the Top 25, we play three of those teams once on the road only. I think we're the only school that plays three of those top-six teams, all three of them on the road."
But a closer look reveals other teams with a rough go.
Illinois plays Wisconsin, Ohio State, Iowa and Minnesota. Minnesota is the only unranked team, although it did receive votes.
Izzo admits he could see the Spartans finishing just about anywhere.
"We have eight teams that have received (votes)," Izzo said. "So the schedule is going to be brutal. … I think there are eight or nine teams in the Big Ten that could be second to 10th."
And until the real value of each team is revealed, Izzo won't exactly endorse the new schedule while hoping it doesn't lead to a season where the conference tournament is bigger than the regular season.
"I can't say I'm excited about it," he said. "I can't say I'm depressed about it because it is what it is. I think it's going to be something we're going to have to live with for a while."
Tough early tests
Before the Spartans get to the Big Ten, they will have another tough nonconference road.
Six of Michigan State's first eight games are on the road, though only the opener against Navy is a true road game. The others are at neutral sites, including Duke at the Champions Classic and three games at the Orlando Classic.
"Going to Navy right off the bat, that will be 4th of July and Christmas out there," Izzo said. "Then we go with Duke in Indianapolis. The chance you're going to play hopefully a Georgia Tech or Marquette, maybe a Kansas (in Orlando). If you play Kansas and Duke, that's two top-five teams in the first six or seven games. Then you have Notre Dame in there (in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec 3)."
Bess has surgery
Freshman guard Javon Bess had surgery Tuesday to repair the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.
"That's too bad for us," Izzo said. "I feel bad for him. This is the guy that I think could end up a great player."
Bess is expected to be out at least a month.
"Me and Javon have been friends for a while now and I was excited for him because of the summer he's had and even the fall he had last year," said Travis Trice, a fellow Ohio native. "The good thing for him, as I told him, he'll have the chance to come back and he'll be energized. He'll be fresh and hopefully be that spark for us."