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Michigan State hoops will reportedly tip off 2020-21 season in Orlando

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Michigan State’s basketball team might open the season with a Thanksgiving trip to Orlando.

According to multiple reports, the Spartans will open the season in the Orlando Invitational from Nov. 25-27 before playing Duke in the Champions Classic at the same venue on Dec. 1.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, left, and Rocket Watts

Michigan State has been part of the Orlando Invitational field all along with original dates set for Nov. 26-29. The new start, as reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, would begin on the first day of the college basketball season and run for three straight days.

Also in the field with the Spartans is Gonzaga, a team many expect to be ranked No. 1 in the nation when the season begins. Xavier, Auburn, Boise State, St. Louis and Belmont are also in the field while there will need to be a replacement for Siena, which will not be able to play because of COVID-19 travel restrictions in New York.

Michigan State is then likely to stay in Orlando to take part in the annual Champions Classic, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. The Spartans will play the Blue Devils while Kentucky will take on Kansas in the event that was scheduled for Nov. 10 in Chicago and stood as the original season opener.

Both events will be played at the same site as the NBA playoff bubble has been played.

While nothing is official and schedules are still being worked on, those events, if finalized, would make up four of the maximum seven nonconference games teams are allowed to play this season. Michigan State is also contracted to play in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge as well as the Gavitt Games against a Big East opponent. That would leave one nonconference game left to schedule, one many believe would be against Oakland.

A report from CBS Sports last week said the target dates for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge are Dec. 8-9.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau