Michigan State basketball will be here before you know it.
The Spartans were tabbed No. 4 in the first 2023 Associated Press college basketball poll of the season this week. Coach Tom Izzo’s bunch brings back four starters and 11 different letter winners from last year. They also, somehow, managed to avoid getting raided in the transfer portal.
The Spartans play their first exhibition game Oct. 25, and open the season Nov. 6 against James Madison. Top Michigan sportsbooks will have odds on every game, but for now, the future bets are out. DraftKings Sportsbook has Michigan State fifth on their board to win the national title at +1500, and second to win the Big 10 at +300. Caesars has pretty much the same, fifth to win the national title and second behind Purdue.
The Spartans schedule will be one of the toughest in the country, here are five games that will define their season:
Nov. 14 vs. Duke in Chicago
How’s this for an early season test? Michigan State last met Duke in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, during Coach K’s last season.
Duke is now under the leadership of Jon Scheyer, and features star sophomore Kyle Filipowski, who was the ACC Rookie of the Year and is a pre-season All-American. Duke has won four of the last six meetings.
Thanksgiving vs. Arizona in California
This is the Acrisure Classic in Palm Springs and it will be the first college basketball game in the new arena. The Wildcats are ranked No. 12 in the preseason and are usually a West Coast power.
Izzo is 2-3 against Arizona in his career.
Jan. 30 vs. Michigan
Well of course, every season turns on the games with rival Michigan. The two teams split last season, with the Spartans losing in Ann Arbor 84-72, and coming back and beating them in East Lansing, 59-53.
State has won seven of the last 11 meetings and hasn’t lost to the Wolverines in East Lansing since 2018.
Feb. 20 vs. Iowa
Michigan State fans would rather forget what happened in last year’s game in Iowa. The Spartans were up 13 points with 1:34 left in the game when Iowa suddenly couldn’t miss a shot. They made four threes in a row and beat State in OT 112-106. Michigan State edged the Hawkeyes at home 63-61.
March 2 at Purdue
Very possibly the game of the year in college basketball and perhaps the Big 10 title will be on the line.
The Boilermakers feature “Big Maple” the 7-foot-4, 290-pound beast Zach Edey. He torched the Spartans last year with 32 points - including a game winner with 2.2 seconds left - in a 64-63 win in East Lansing, then scored a career high 38 in a 77-61 win in Indiana. No college basketball team has been able to stop Edey so far, but the Spartans will have to try.