"I'll take seemingly unrelated people for $200 Alex."
"Digger Phelps and Garrick Sherman."
"Who are two men associated with Notre Dame that left their positions one year too early?"
The games for the Big Ten-ACC Challenge came down this afternoon, and Michigan State will go to South Bend to play Notre Dame for the first time since the Spartans triumphed over Phelps's Fighting Irish squad in the Elite Eight of the 1979 NCAA Tournament. Since that matchup Digger refused to schedule the Spartans despite the schools' proximity, and the two schools have not played basketball since. Next year, that will change.
The Fighting Irish were 8-4 at the start of last season when they lost their leading scorer, Jerian Grant, to academic issues. Although Notre Dame looked weak at times before they lost Grant (two of those losses were to Indiana State and North Dakota State at home), removing him was one reason why Notre Dame went 7-17 the rest of the season. That included a 6-12 ACC record and not one, but TWO losses to Wake Forest.
The Irish lose the aforementioned Sherman and Eric Adkins (the latter averaged 36 minutes a game last season) to graduation. With no significant recruits coming in 2014, it looks like it'll be up to Grant to possibly beat the Spartans single-handedly. Let's hope he's not asking Talor Battle or Kevin Coble for tips.
As for the MSU-Notre Dame matchup itself, basketball-wise it's not as sexy as some of the other games, such as Iowa-UNC, UM-Syracuse, or Duke vs. Wisconsin. Here's the full schedule for reference -
|Mon, Dec 1||Nebraska at Florida State|
|Rutgers at Clemson|
|Tue, Dec 2||No. 21 Syracuse at No. 24 Michigan|
|Ohio State at No. 8 Louisville|
|Pittsburgh at Indiana|
|NC State at Purdue|
|Illinois at Miami (Fla.)|
|Minnesota at Wake Forest|
|Wed, Dec 3||No. 2 Duke at No. 4 Wisconsin|
|No. 18 Michigan State at Notre Dame|
|No. 25 Iowa at No. 6 North Carolina|
|No. 7 Virginia at Maryland|
|Georgia Tech at Northwestern|
|Virginia Tech at Penn State|
I'd put MSU-Notre Dame as either the 5th, 6th, or 7th best game quality wise, depending on how you feel about Virginia at Maryland and Pitt at Indiana. While Michigan State could have gotten a better opponent in terms of quality (that said, I'm not feeling bad in the slightest the Spartans missed out on UNC this season), I'm not sure they could've gotten a better one in terms of history. Here's hoping this game reignites a rivalry that's been dormant for more than three decades.