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Phil Knight Invitational: Michigan State men’s basketball to play Alabama, women to face Iowa State

The MSU men have been placed in the same bracket as North Carolina, Villanova, UConn, Iowa State and Oregon. Meanwhile, the women’s bracket also includes Oregon and North Carolina.

Big Ten Tournament - Second Round - Maryland v Michigan State Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Some of the details of Michigan State University’s men’s and women’s basketball non-conference schedules just got a little bit clearer.

Back in February, it was announced that the Spartans would participate in the 2022 Phil Knight Invitational, otherwise known as PK85. The overall event brings together a total of 16 college basketball programs that will compete in two separate eight-team tournaments in celebration of Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s 85th birthday.

The parallel men’s tournament is referred to as the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament and both tournaments will take place in the greater Portland, Oregon area. Additionally, the Michigan State women’s basketball team will also participate in the women’s bracket.

Michigan State participated in the inaugural PK80 event in 2017. The Spartans were assigned to the Victory Bracket and eventually claimed victory in the tournament by defeating DePaul, UConn and finally North Carolina in the finals. If the Spartans are to repeat as champions in 2022, they will most likely need to follow a similar path.

On Monday, the bracket for both the Phil Knight Invitational and Legacy Tournaments were first reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

The Spartans will open up the tournament on Thursday, Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving Day) at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first round. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

If Michigan State is victorious, it appears that the team will then face the winner of the UConn versus Oregon contest. If the Spartans make the finals, the Green and White will face either North Carolina, Villanova, Iowa State or Portland.

Rothstein’s report has since been confirmed, as ESPN officially announced the matchups and game times for the opening round. The Michigan State men’s basketball program has officially announced that it will kick off the invitational against Alabama as well.

Meanwhile, the MSU women’s team will begin play in the PKI on Thanksgiving Day as well. The Spartans will go up against the Iowa State Cyclones on Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ESPNU). The women’s bracket also includes Oregon and North Carolina.

The PKI women’s championship will be played on Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ESPN2) and the men’s championship game will be played on the same day at 10 p.m. Eastern Time (ESPN).

Based on several of the “way too early” polls for 2022, the games in Portland are likely to be very competitive. CBS Sports currently has Michigan State ranked No. 25 and Alabama ranked No. 21 in the preseason men’s rankings. Oregon is ranked No. 20 in the same poll, and while UConn is not ranked by CBS, Sports Illustrated has the Huskies ranked No. 21.

On the other side of the bracket, Villanova appears at No. 16 in the CBS rankings, while North Carolina is currently ranked No. 2.

This potentially brutal conference field adds to the Spartans’ already challenging non-conference slate. The Michigan State men’s basketball program is scheduled to face possible preseason No. 1 Gonzaga on an air craft carrier in San Diego, top-five Kentucky in the Champions Classic, top-20 Villanova in the Gavitt Games (and possibly again in the PK85) and a true road game at Norte Dame in he ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Michigan State could realistically face six top-25 opponents before Dec. 1. When contemplating this possibility, Rothstein also shared this piece of advice.