Michigan State basketball's 2020-21 schedule includes Wisconsin clash on Christmas

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

It looks like Santa Claus might be a Big Ten basketball fan.

The conference released its 2020-21 schedule on Wednesday and it features four games played on Christmas, including Michigan State hosting Wisconsin.

Rocket Watts and Michigan State will travel to Duke for a game Dec. 1 as part of the Champions Classic.

The schedule was released the same day the Spartans announced their nonconference schedule, confirming their season begins in a week when they host Eastern Michigan at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Breslin Center.

The seven-game non-conference schedule features a local flair as Michigan State hosts games against Eastern Michigan (Nov. 25), Notre Dame (Nov. 28), Detroit Mercy (Dec. 4), Western Michigan (Dec. 6) and Oakland (Dec. 13). The matchup with Detroit is the first meeting between the teams since 2001.

The marquee games come on the road as No. 13 Michigan State heads to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 1 to take on No. 9 Duke in the Champions Classic. As part of the agreement to play this year’s game in the annual event on the Blue Devils’ campus, Mike Krzyzewski’s team has agreed to a return game in East Lansing on a future date.

The Spartans hit the road again to face No. 4 Virginia on Dec. 9 for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a game that features Michigan State’s Joey Hauser facing his brother, Sam, a senior for the Cavaliers.

The Big Ten schedule, like in recent years, tips off in December with Michigan State traveling to Northwestern on Dec. 20 before hosting Wisconsin on Christmas. The calendar year closes with a trip to Minnesota on Dec. 28.

Michigan State will play both home and away against Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers. The Spartans will face Wisconsin, Illinois and Penn State just once at home and will play Northwestern, Minnesota and Maryland once each on the road.

The Spartans’ matchups with Michigan are Feb. 6 in Ann Arbor and March 7, the final day of the regular season, in East Lansing.

Michigan State has been practicing for a little more than a week without head coach Tom Izzo, who last Monday tested positive for COVID-19. In his absence, assistant coaches Dwayne Stephens, Dane Fife and Mike Garland have been running practices.

“Obviously, it's been different,” junior forward Thomas Kithier said. “I think one thing I give credit to is the assistant coaches for stepping up. At first we kind of came out a little flat, but we've slowly picked it up and we had a good scrimmage the other day. We really bounced back and I feel like we really improved.”

MSU schedule

► Nov. 25: vs. Eastern Michigan, 6 p.m., BTN

Nov. 28: vs. Notre Dame, 6/8 p.m., BTN

Dec. 1: at Duke, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Dec. 4: vs. Detroit Mercy, 5 p.m., TBA

Dec. 6: vs. Western Michigan, 6 p.m., TBA

Dec. 9: at Virginia, TBA, ESPN

Dec. 13: vs. Oakland

Dec. 20: at Northwestern

Dec. 25: vs. Wisconsin

Dec. 28: at Minnesota

Jan. 2: at Nebraska

Jan. 5: vs. Rutgers

Jan. 8: vs. Purdue

Jan. 14: at Iowa

Jan. 17: vs. Indiana

Jan. 23: vs. Illinois

Jan. 28: at Rutgers

Jan. 31: at Ohio State

Feb. 3: vs. Nebraska

Feb. 6: at Michigan

Feb. 9: vs. Penn State

Feb. 13: vs. Iowa

Feb. 16: at Purdue

Feb. 20: at Indiana

Feb. 25: vs. Ohio State

Feb. 28: at Maryland

March 7: vs. Michigan


Twitter: @mattcharboneau