The Michigan State Spartans have released their 2016-17 men's basketball schedule.
As has usually been the case under Tom Izzo, MSU will face a challenging non-conference slate to make sure these young Spartans are tested early and often. Following exhibition games vs Northwood and Saginaw Valley, the first game of the new season will come on Nov. 11 vs Arizona in the Armed Forces Classic.
These Wildcats feature a great balance of battle-tested veterans and highly-touted freshman. They will likely rank somewhere in the top 15 entering next season, making this a tough opening game.
MSU's next big challenge comes just four days later in the Champions Classic vs Kentucky in Chicago. Those Wildcats are projected to be a top-three team this coming season, thanks mainly to another top-ranked recruiting class by John Calipari.
But the Spartans' 2016 class also featured a wealth of freshman talent that will play big roles in their first collegiate seasons. Getting to see a pair of rim-wreckers in Miles Bridges and Malik Monk will be fun to watch.
The Spartans will also take part in the Battle 4 Atlantis this year, which could feature matchups with Baylor, Louisville, LSU, VCU and/or Wichita State. Those programs have been regulars in the NCAA Tournament.
Oh, and then there's Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Blue Devils will be the preseason No. 1 team, and probably will hold that when MSU ventures into Cameron Indoor Stadium.
So as you can see, these Spartans will be battle-tested by the time Big Ten play rolls around. The conference portion will feature the usual suspects, including games at Indiana and at Maryland, two top-25-caliber teams.
Here is the full men's basketball schedule for 2016-17