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Michigan State basketball: Opponents I’d like to see the Spartans schedule

These would be fun matchups.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

If I were to draw up the Michigan State basketball schedule, I’d have these opponents on the slate for the Spartans.

Wouldn’t it be fun if you could have total control over what your favorite team’s schedule looks like? I know I’ve imagined what I would do with the Michigan State basketball schedule more than a few times if Alan Haller gave me the reins.

With basketball season recently coming to an end, I thought it would be fun to pick one school from each conference that I would schedule a home-and-home series with (one game at the Breslin Center and one true road game) from an MSU fan’s perspective.

ACC: North Carolina Tar Heels

MSUs biggest non-Big Ten rival is easily Duke, but with the Spartans playing the Blue Devils at least once every three years in the Champions Classic, I decided to select the obvious second choice in North Carolina.

UNC is one of college basketball’s bluest of blue bloods and most storied programs with six national championships, 21 Final Fours, and 41 regular season conference titles. Who wouldn’t want to go up against all that history? This matchup would draw the attention of the entire college basketball world and would be one that Michigan State would have a fairly decent shot at sweeping with UNC’s lack of success in recent seasons (outside of their magical Final Four run a year ago).

North Carolina holds a slight edge in this series, 5-3, but MSU has the most recent win in the PK80 title game in 2017. Also, what even is a Tar Heel?

Side note: I will never forgive what Tyler Hansbrough and Co. did to us in the national title game at Ford Field.

SEC: Tennessee Volunteers

The obvious choice from the SEC in Kentucky was excluded due to the same reason as Duke with the Champions Classic, so let’s go with an extremely consistent team in recent years: Tennessee.

The Vols may have absolutely no NCAA Tournament success in program history to make this matchup interesting, but a fun storyline to run with would be Michigan State knocking them off in their last meeting in the Elite Eight of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Whenever you’re in an argument with a Tennessee fan, always bring this game up as it is Tennessee’s only Elite Eight appearance in program history.

I’d love MSUs chances of winning the matchup in East Lansing in this one and would spend the rest of the night rubbing it in the face of that annoying Tennessee fan on Twitter (I know you all know who I’m talking about).

Big 12: Baylor Bears

Baylor has been one of the top teams in college basketball for a few years now and recently won the NCAA Tournament in 2021, making this another matchup the entire country would want to see.

Baylor may not have the same program history that Michigan State basketball has, but we would be in a tough battle with the Bears both at home and on the road in this one.

However, I’ve got revenge on my mind in this one as Baylor has won the only two matchups in this series (both weirdly enough being played in the Bahamas) and who can forget Baylor beating our Michigan State women’s basketball team in the 2005 National Championship game? I was there and my 7-year-old self will never forgive them.

Pac-12: Arizona Wildcats

Outside of UCLA which is moving to the Big Ten in a year, Arizona is one of the more storied programs in the Pac-12. Yes I know, that isn’t really saying much, but one national title and four Final Fours is respectable, right?

The Wildcats are coming off two great seasons in a row, however, they were upset this season in the NCAA Tournament by 15-seed Princeton. Arizona does hold the series lead in this matchup, 4-2, but I feel like we would have a decent chance at winning both games of this series.

However, the only thing that matters in this one is Bill Walton staying as far away from the broadcast booth as possible. I will mute the TV if he’s on the call.

Big East: UConn Huskies

There are a lot of great options in the Big East with a lot of teams being close to East Lansing which would make traveling to the road game possible, but give me the reigning national champion Connecticut Huskies.

I’m officially giving UConn blue blood status after winning their fifth national title since 1999, but don’t let that success scare you, Spartan fans, UConn historically struggles in the years after winning it all so give me Michigan State to walk away with a W in both of these matchups.

The series history is split 3-3 but shoutout to MSU for being the only team to ever beat UConn in the Final Four back in 2009 at Ford Field. Let’s all just choose to forget about the 2014 Elite Eight game though (*sigh*).

Lead writer for Spartan Shadows since April 2023, writing over 450 articles. Michigan State basketball, football and recruiting expert. Class of 2019 graduate from Michigan State University specializing in Sports Management. Daily MSU runs a popular X page (@daily_msu) covering all things MSU Sports.


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