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Predicting the 2023-24 Michigan State basketball non-conference schedule

How will MSU fare?

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

The complete 2023-24 Michigan State basketball schedule is set in stone. How will the Spartans fare in non-conference play?

The Michigan State basketball non-conference schedule is loaded with great opponents once again. That has become the norm in East Lansing under Tom Izzo and makes the excitement surrounding the season skyrocket each year.

Let’s take a look at the non-conference schedule and predict how the Spartans will do in each game.

Two “easy” games to start

For the first time in what feels like forever, Michigan State is starting their schedule off relatively easy. Instead of playing a premier opponent in their first two matchups, we have two easier opponents coming to East Lansing. Michigan State starts the season against James Madison and Southern Indiana at the Breslin Center. I think it’s safe to say we will win both matchups — hopefully by a wide margin. These games should offer us a great opportunity to figure the makeup of this team out before their first real test of the season.

Champions Classic vs. Duke

Michigan State will face Duke in this year’s Champions Classic. It will be the first time we play Duke since Coach K has retired. Don’t let that fool you though, this Duke team will be super talented. So much so that they may be one of the few teams ranked higher than Michigan State to start the season. All that being said, I have extreme confidence in our team this year. The experience of Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard will lead our guys to a massive victory over Duke and a perfect 3-0 start to the season.

Will Michigan State stay perfect through November?

It’s easy to have a letdown game right after winning such a big game against Duke. I don’t see that happening here, however. Michigan State welcomes Butler to East Lansing for their fourth game of the season, which will be a return game for former Spartan Pierre Brooks. Butler is a tough squad, but not tough enough and Michigan State will win this hard fought game and move to 4-0.

After Butler comes Alcorn State, another easy opponent that we should easily beat. This game comes at a good time as it will hopefully allow our guys to relax a bit before their next big test. Game 6 will see the Spartans travel out west to face Arizona in a neutral site game in California. Arizona will likely be ranked as well and be a huge test for the Spartans in their longest road trip of the season. We are the better team in my opinion, but I think we drop our first game of the year here. I believe we can win every game on our non-conference schedule, but I find it unlikely to actually pull that off. So I am more or less picking a loss here just because I don’t think we will go undefeated in our entire non-conference schedule.

The final game in November is against Georgia Southern in East Lansing. Another “easy” game that should result in a win. So I have Michigan State sitting at 6-1 as November comes to an end.

Final non-conference test

After Finals Week and two Big Ten games, Michigan State will face off against Baylor in Detroit. Baylor is the last marquee opponent on our non-conference schedule and will be tough to beat. However, having the game in Detroit is huge as I expect it to feel like a home game. Give us another victory in this one.

The ninth non-conference opponent is Oakland. You may be wondering why I view this game as a test. For starters, even though Oakland has never beaten us, I’ve watched them play us tough too many times to know this isn’t an automatic win. This game also comes just two days after the Baylor game, which is not a lot of time to recover after a high emotion game. I think we still win this game, but it won’t be as easy as you might initially think. Michigan State basketball will be 8-1 against non-conference opponents coming down the home stretch.

Smooth finish

The end of the non-conference schedule is as easy as it started. Michigan State will play Stony Brook and Indiana State at home to close out the calendar year. Two more tune-up games before the full conference schedule starts will be just what we need. Give us two wins in these games and a final non-conference record of 10-1.

As I mentioned before, I think Michigan State can win all 11 of these games — 11-0 is certainly not unrealistic. However, I know how difficult winning that many games is, so I think a 10-1 record is more realistic. I think we all would be ecstatic going 10-1 against this schedule as well. That will set us up nicely come NCAA Tournament time as we aim for a No. 1 seed in this year’s tourney. More to come on the importance of that in the future.

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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