Michigan State men’s basketball will have its work cut out during a brutal non-conference slate early in 2022-23.
On Monday, the university announced that the Spartans will play Alabama in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational, scheduled for Nov. 25. The PKI multi-team tournament will feature eight men’s teams.
The winner of the Michigan State-Alabama game will play the winner of a matchup between Oregon and UConn.
The matchup between the Spartans and Crimson Tide will be just the third all-time meeting between the two programs, and the first since 1998 — a 75-58 Spartans win.
This adds to Michigan State's already loaded non-conference slate that opens with Kentucky in the Champions Classic, and also includes Gonzaga in the Carrier Classic, Villanova in the 2022 Gavitt Games and Notre Dame in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Each of those opponents made the 2021 NCAA Tournament field last March.
With Michigan State-Alabama and Oregon-UConn on one half the the Phil Knight Invitational, the other half of the bracket’s first round games include North Carolina playing Portland and Villanova playing Iowa State.
The accomplished field has a combined 212 NCAA Tournament appearances, 45 Final Fours and 16 NCAA titles. Six of the eight teams reached the NCAA Tournament last season, including national runner-up North Carolina and semifinalist Villanova.
Michigan State is coming off a 23-13 overall record, and a seventh place finish in the Big Ten Conference after going 11-9 in league games.