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Report: Virginia will host Michigan State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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Tom Izzo met with the media today, and the schedule was a big talking point.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

There is finally a little bit of clarity into the 2020-2021 schedule for the Michigan State Spartans basketball schedule. Michigan State will travel to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, according to college basketball insider Jon Rothstein. The event is currently scheduled to take place on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9.

Ironically enough, Tom Izzo spoke on a Zoom call today to the media, and one of the biggest talking points was, in fact, the schedule.

Izzo said he was on a Zoom call with the Big Ten this morning regarding the schedule, but there are still a lot of moving parts and a lot of uncertainty about said schedule.

“We still don’t know,” Izzo said. “Kevin Pauga, our guy here, has been working for not only the Big Ten — men’s and women’s — but half the county and trying to put together these schedules and things are changing every day.

“We’re hoping in the next few days we’re gonna have it pretty much locked down, but it could be one of those schedules that’s changing as we go, believe it or not, other than the conference games. We just want to do everything we can do to get a full season in. A full now is 27 games instead of 31 (games). But that’s not a big deal. The biggest deal is to make sure we keep everybody safe and healthy. If we’ve learned anything the last eight months, we’ve got to stay flexible.”

Izzo did mention that Virginia was a strong possibility for the Big Ten/ACC challenge, although nothing was certain at the time he was speaking. I would like to point out that yours truly also predicted this last month. It appears that both Tom and I were correct.

“People tell me it’s going to be Virginia, but there’s nothing set in stone on that with the Big Ten/ACC challenge,” Izzo said.

Michigan State is 3-0 all-time against Virginia. The two programs last met in 2015 NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32. Michigan State, a seven-seed, took down the two-seed, Virginia, by a score of 60-54. The Spartans made a run to the Final Four that year.

A Michigan State-Virginia matchup also means that MSU forward Joey Hauser will get a chance to go up against his older brother, Sam Hauser. The brothers transferred from Marquette to separate schools, so that will be a fun storyline to watch.

As for the rest of the non-conference schedule, that is still being worked out. Izzo, Pauga and MSU have some things in the works, but given all of the complications, nothing is certain as of yet.

“We’re working with Notre Dame, we’re working with some other MTEs (multi-team events),” Izzo said. “There’s a big question of whether you can play in an MTE right now, in the Big Ten, just because of the testing procedures in some of them. Those are some of the question marks out there. We are trying to look at, can we schedule a few more games semi-locally? Which around here would be Eastern (Michigan), Central (Michigan), Western (Michigan), Oakland, Notre Dame — teams that are in a couple hour radius of here so that you can travel by bus — just for cost reasons and so you don’t have to fly as much.”

Izzo also mentioned that he still expects Michigan State to play Duke at some point, he’s just not sure where or when yet. He also said MSU is looking to add at least one more “big game” to the schedule, home or away, and then wants to put together a few other games to complete a five-to-seven game non-conference game schedule. The hope is to have the schedule finalized by the middle of next week, but that remains fluid without any hard deadline.

Izzo also mentioned that “bubbles” or “pods” have been talked about, but given all of the moving parts that would require to pull off with college athletes, it’s just “speculation” right now according to Izzo, with no real plan in place to move that way. He also mentioned that potentially pushing the NCAA Tournament back, possibly to April or May, has been discussed if needed.

“It’s been frustrating for us, we’re practicing and we can’t even say ‘We’re opening with so-and-so, we’re doing this the first week,’” Izzo said. “That’s been a little challenging, to say the least.”

Here is a full list of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchups, per Rothstein, which are expected to be officially announced by ESPN on Friday.

  • Illinois at Duke
  • North Carolina at Iowa
  • Michigan State at Virginia
  • Louisville at Wisconsin
  • Indiana at Florida State
  • Ohio State at Notre Dame
  • Syracuse at Rutgers
  • Boston College at Minnesota
  • Pitt at Northwestern
  • Penn State at Virginia Tech
  • Purdue at Miami
  • NC State at Michigan
  • Georgia Tech at Nebraska
  • Maryland at Clemson