The Michigan State Spartans will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday in “the city beautiful” to start the season, per reports out today. MSU was previously scheduled to participate in the Orlando Invitational this season, and unlike many other schools in such events has indicated it will remain a participant. Today’s reports also claim the tournament will supplant the Champions Classic as MSU’s opening day event when the season tips off on Nov. 25.
Over the previous two seasons, the Champions Class has been scheduled to be the opening game for MSU and the other participants. That was to be the case this season as well before the NCAA voted to delay the start of the season to Nov. 25. As a result, the start date begins when a number of early season tournaments are already scheduled to begin. That is the case for MSU as well and the ESPN hosted tournament MSU is a member of will be the new starting event for the Spartans this season.
The Orlando Invitational will be played Nov. 25-27, and feature a number of high profile teams besides MSU. The bracket has not yet been released, but Gonzaga is among the other participants and is the preseason No. 1 team in the country in a number of polls. Additionally, other teams include Xavier, Auburn, Boise State, St. Louis, and Belmont. The tournament has yet to name a replacement for Siena, which had to withdraw due to travel restrictions in the state of New York.
MSU is likely to stick around Orlando for a few days following the tournament as reporting indicates the Champions Classic will now be scheduled for Dec. 1 in Orlando. As previously reported by The Only Colors, the event was moved from Indianapolis to Orlando earlier this fall. The Spartans will face Duke, along with Kansas and Kentucky facing each other.
Afterward the Spartans will head home to East Lansing after the first four games of the season. The ACC-Big Ten Challenge is being planned for Dec. 8-9 with games on campus still. Michigan State is also still contractually obligated to play in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, but there has been no official word yet on the fate of that event, and whether those games are still being planned or cancelled. MSU will have just one more game after that to fill out the non-conference schedule in the shortened season if the inter-conference event still occurs. It is suggested MSU is targeting Oakland for that final game. The NCAA is allowing a team that competes in a three-game tournament (or “multiple-team event” if you prefer the official language) to schedule 24 regular season games in addition. Kevin Pauga told MLive last week the final schedule for MSU likely will not be released until mid-October, however.