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Michigan State basketball: How does 2023-24 Big Ten slate compare to 2022-23?

Did Michigan State get a good draw?



Michigan State basketball
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State basketball knows its 2023-24 Big Ten opponents but how do they compare to 2022-23?

Michigan State basketball’s conference slate dropped for the highly anticipated 2023-24 season. Once again, the Big Ten will be a tough out. But this time around, MSU projects to be at the top of the pecking order.

Thanks to our friend Bart Torvik and his “Funalytics,” we have a projected rating for each team in the Big Ten in 2023-24. I’ll be using that to predict the quadrant levels of teams that MSU is playing and how that compares to the 2022-23 season.

As a reminder, Quad 1 wins are a metric to determine a team’s difficulty of schedule and their “quality” of wins. You can find the NCAA’s guidelines on NET and quadrant rankings here.

Side note, once we have a better idea of MSU’s full non-conference slate (as of now we only know of Duke and Arizona on Thanksgiving Day), I will also do a quadrant comparison of that schedule.

Now let’s start with the home conference schedule:

No. 25 Wisconsin (Q1)
No. 26 Rutgers (Q1)
No. 34 Maryland (Q2)
No. 36 Ohio State (Q2)
No. 45 Northwestern (Q2)
No. 47 Iowa (Q2)
No. 49 Illinois (Q2)
No. 62 Michigan (Q2)
No. 130 Minnesota (Q3)
No. 145 Penn St (Q3)

This certainly isn’t MSU’s most exciting home slate, as it lacks the two stalwarts who reside in Indiana. It’s also a bit of a bummer only getting two projected Q1 games. But the middle of the Big Ten will once again be a logjam, which should make for some entertaining home games. Rutgers fans will need to bring their ear plugs to the Breslin, as they will undoubtedly be hearing a lot of jeers headed Steve Pikiell’s way.

Moving on to the away conference schedule:

No. 20 Purdue (Q1-A)
No. 25 Wisconsin (Q1-A)
No. 32 Indiana (Q1-A)
No. 34 Maryland (Q1-A)
No. 44 Nebraska (Q1)
No. 45 Northwestern (Q1)
No. 49 Illinois (Q1)
No. 62 Michigan (Q1)
No. 130 Minnesota (Q2)
No. 145 Penn St (Q3)

I’m not jazzed about MSU playing against four of the top five teams ranked Nos. 2-6 in the Big Ten on the road. We are well aware of the Spartans’ struggles at Indiana and Purdue. But we should also be happy with playing both Minnesota and Penn State.

So how does this compare to 2022-23?

Last year, MSU played in 10 Q1 games, eight Q2 games, one Q3 game, and one Q4 game (which was cancelled). This year they have a projected 10 Q1 games, seven Q2 games, three Q3 games, and zero Q4 games. On paper, those look pretty similar.

The main difference in the schedule difficulty can be found looking at “Quad 1-A” games. Although an unofficial metric by the NET rankings, Q1-A differentiates the level of difficulty in the fairly broad category of Q1 games. It distinguishes a top 15 home opponent, top 25 neutral opponent, and top 40 road opponent as Q1-A.

Michigan State basketball has just four Q1-A games in 2023-24, whereas in 2022-23 it had six. Pairing that with two additional Q3 games, I have to feel MSU has a slightly easier draw this season.

A big reason for that is MSU resides at the top of the projected standings. They obviously won’t have to play themselves, whereas last year they played the top dog Purdue twice. They also play Minnesota twice, whereas last year they only had one scheduled game against the Golden Gophers which ended up getting cancelled.

I’ll briefly mention that MSU went 0-6 in their Q1-A games last year, and they will want to avenge games against many of those high-level opponents. They were also 3-7 in Q1 games overall, and 7-1 in Q2 games. If MSU wants to earn a high seed in the NCAA tournament, they will need to flip the script in the Q1 column.

I, for one, cannot wait to watch Tom Izzo’s squad seriously contend for a Big Ten title and Final Four for the first time since 2020. 

I graduated from MSU in 2016 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. I met my wife there, and we now live in Madison, WI with our two boys (ages 3 and 1). I write on here and spew on Twitter as an outlet for my useless MSU sports knowledge.