Conference moves to 18-game schedule in 2007-08.
EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ The Big Ten Conference announced the menâ€™s basketball conference schedule on Tuesday morning. For the first time since 1996-97, the conference will use an 18-game league schedule. Michigan State will open the Big Ten season with a home game against Minnesota on Jan. 5. With the 18-game format, the Spartans will play eight conference schools twice, with single games against Michigan (in East Lansing) and Wisconsin (in Madison).Every league contest will be televised, including one game on CBS, five on ESPN or ESPN2 and eight on the Big Ten Network. In addition, one game could be televised by either ESPN, ESPN2 or the Big Ten Network, while three games could be televised by CBS, ESPN or the Big Ten Network. Additional television information for the non-conference portion of the schedule will be announced in the coming weeks."By moving to 18 games, this yearâ€™s Big Ten schedule is going to be an adjustment for everyone," said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. "Itâ€™s going to be tougher for the coaches, but great for the fans, giving them more games that they want to see. Weâ€™ve also added three great coaches to the conference in John Beilein, Todd Lickliter and Tubby Smith. Theyâ€™ve all established themselves at the national level and will bring great excitement to the conference."With the expanded schedule and the depth of the league, this winter promises to be a very exciting basketball season for Spartan fans and Big Ten fans across the state of Michigan and throughout the country. There couldnâ€™t be a better time to launch the Big Ten Network, which will be able to feature some key games during the conference race."Michigan Stateâ€™s first three conference games will be televised on the Big Ten Network. The league opener will come against the Golden Gophers (4 p.m.) in Tubby Smithâ€™s first league game as Minnesotaâ€™s head coach. Izzo and the Spartans faced Smith six times during his tenure as Kentucky coach, with MSU winning four times. On Jan. 8, the Spartans will host Purdue (9 p.m.). The first road trip of the Big Ten slate takes the Spartans to Iowa City on Jan. 12 (9:30 p.m.). The Hawkeyes also feature a new coach in Todd Lickliter.On Jan. 15, 2007 National Finalist Ohio State will enter the Breslin Center for a nationally-televised game on ESPN (7 p.m.). Five days later, the Spartans will travel to Minneapolis, making two MSU-Minnesota match-ups in the first five conference games. The Jan. 20 contest will be televised on the Big Ten Network (4 p.m.). The Spartans play at Northwestern on Jan. 24. The game will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2 (9 p.m.).The lone meeting between Michigan State and in-state rival Michigan will come on Jan. 27 in East Lansing (12 p.m.). CBS will televise the contest, in the first meeting between Izzo and first-year UM coach John Beilein. The Spartans host Illinois on Jan. 30 (9 p.m., Big Ten Network), followed by a trip to Penn State on Feb. 2 (8 p.m., Big Ten Network). After a mid-week bye, the Spartans host Northwestern on Feb. 9 (7 p.m., Big Ten Network).The Spartans face a key road trip the following week with two games in the Hoosier State. On Feb. 12, the Spartans play at Purdue on ESPN at 7 p.m. Four days later, Michigan State plays at Indiana in a Saturday night primetime showdown (9 p.m.) on ESPN (Feb. 16). Penn State plays at Michigan State on Feb. 20 (7 p.m., Big Ten Network). MSU hosts Iowa on either Feb. 23 or 24. The game will be played on Feb. 24 (4 p.m.) if CBS opts to televise the contest. If CBS chooses to broadcast another game, the Spartans and Hawkeyes will play on Feb. 23, with the game to be carried by either ESPN or the Big Ten Network (2 or 4 p.m.).Michigan State will face a very difficult close of the conference schedule. The Spartans play at Wisconsin on Feb. 28 in the only meeting between the two squads (9 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2). The final home game of the Spartan schedule will be a March 2 contest against Indiana. This game could be televised by either CBS, ESPN or the Big Ten Network.The final week of the season has the Spartans on the road for two games. The mid-week contest features Michigan State at Illinois on either March 4,5 or 6, with the determination to be made by television at a later date. The Spartans close out the season at Ohio State on March 9. Like the game against Indiana, the television for this game will be determined in February, with CBS, ESPN and the Big Ten Network all being options. The 11th-annual Big Ten Tournament will be held March 13-16 in Indianapolis.