Michigan State men's basketball head coach Tom Izzo has always made playing a tough, non-conference schedule a priority for his program, and that's exactly what the Spartans are going to get in 2022-23.
Earlier this week, CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein reported that Michigan State will host Villanova in the 2022 Gavitt Games. It will be strange to see the Wildcats without long-time head coach Jay Wright on the sideline, but don't expect a huge dropoff for Villanova in their first season with a new head coach.
The Wildcats have been selected into the NCAA Tournament in 16 of the last 18 years, and one of those absences was due to the COVID-19 season which cancelled the Tournament. Additionally, Villanova has finished first or second in the Big East Conference for nine consecutive seasons and, oh yeah, they've won two national championships in the last seven years.
The news of Villanova's addition to Michigan State's schedule is just the latest into was could be a grueling non-conference slate for the Spartans.
Earlier this month, news broke that Michigan State was planning a return of the Carrier Classis game, this time matched up with perennial power Gonzaga in San Diego for Veterans' Day. Yesterday, it was announced that the two schools were finalizing those plans.
Michigan State will begin the year with the 12th annual Champions Classic, where the Spartans will face blueblood Kentucky. Additionally, Michigan State has been matched up with Notre Dame, another tournament team a year ago, in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.
On top of all that, the Spartans are scheduled to play in the PK 85 event, a tournament celebrating the 85th birthday of Nike co-founder Phil Knight, where they will have three games against some combination of North Carolina, Portland, UConn, Alabama, Oregon, Iowa State or Villanova.
With only 10 scholarship players on the roster, three of whom will be true freshman, Michigan State's depth and stamina is going to be put to a rigorous test early in the 2022-23 season.
The Big Ten is not expected to be as strong at the top this coming season as it has in recent years, so MSU's incredibly difficult non-conference slate could help the Spartans' resume when it comes to NCAA Tournament time — if Michigan State can find a way to win a couple of these big matchups.