Rugged nonconference slate kicks off MSU basketball schedule

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Cassius Winston and Michigan State open their season Nov. 6 vs. Kansas in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.

The names and faces sometimes change, but under coach Tom Izzo, Michigan State’s basketball schedule has a familiar tone from season to season.

For the Spartans, that means playing some of the top teams in the nation in nonconference play followed by a typically daunting Big Ten slate, one that gets tougher for every team this season as the teams will now play 20 conference games.

Heading into the 2018-19 season, Michigan State has the requisite big-time matchups, including the season opener against Kansas as part of the Champions Classic on Nov. 6 in Indianapolis. The Spartans also take on UCLA on Nov. 22 in the Las Vegas Invitational with a second game the next day against either Texas or North Carolina.

More: UM opens Big Ten play vs. Purdue, closes at MSU

Michigan State travels to Louisville on Nov. 27 to take on the Cardinals as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. A Dec. 8 trip to Florida caps the noteworthy nonconference games. In between, the Spartans tip off Big Ten play at Rutgers on Nov. 30 and at home against Iowa on Dec. 3.

That means three true road games — at Louisville, at Rutgers and at Florida — in a 12-day span.

A visit to the Breslin Center from Oakland on Dec. 21 highlights the rest of the non-conference slate before Michigan State is back to Big Ten play at home against Northwestern on Jan. 2.

Michigan State and Michigan now have a protected rivalry, meaning the teams will meet twice each year after playing just once last season. The Spartans head to Ann Arbor on Feb. 24 with the Wolverines coming to the Breslin Center on March 9. It’s the first time the rivals have closed the regular season since 2010.

Michigan State' 2018-19 schedule

Tuesday Oct. 30 vs. NORTHERN MICHIGAN (exhibition)

Tuesday Nov. 6 vs. Kansas (Champions Classic at Indianapolis)

Sunday Nov. 11 vs. Florida Gulf Coast

* Wednesday Nov. 14 vs. LOUISANA-MONROE

* Sunday Nov. 18 vs. TENNESSEE TECH

* Thursday Nov. 22 vs. UCLA (Las Vegas)

* Friday Nov. 23 vs. North Carolina/Texas (Las Vegas)

Tuesday Nov. 27 at Louisville (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

Friday Nov. 30 at Rutgers

Monday Dec. 3 vs. IOWA

Saturday Dec. 8 at Florida

Sunday Dec. 16 vs. GREEN BAY

Friday Dec. 23 vs. OAKLAND

Saturday Dec. 29 vs. NORTHERN ILLINOIS

Wednesday Jan. 2 vs. NORTHWESTERN

Saturday Jan. 5 at Ohio State

Tuesday Jan. 8 vs. PURDUE

Sunday Jan. 13 at Penn State

Thursday Jan. 17 at Nebraska

Monday Jan. 21 vs. MARYLAND

Thursday Jan. 24 at Iowa

Sunday Jan. 27 at Purdue

Saturday Feb. 2 vs. INDIANA

Tuesday Feb. 5 at Illinois

Saturday Feb. 9 vs. MINNESOTA

Tuesday Feb. 12 at Wisconsin

Sunday Feb. 17 vs. OHIO STATE

Wednesday Feb. 20 vs. RUTGERS

Sunday Feb. 24 at Michigan

Saturday March 2 at Indiana

Tuesday March 5 vs. NEBRASKA

Saturday March 9 vs. MICHIGAN

March 13-17 Big Ten Tournament Chicago, Ill.

* Las Vegas Invitational