By Spencer Impellizzeri @Spence_I on June 7, 2014
Michigan State is a team that will be looking for players to step up in 2014-15. The Spartans lost tree of their top four scorers from last season and this year's team will look to improve on the Spartans' disappointing exit from the NCAA tournament. The cupboard is far from bare, as MSU returns four players with starting experience, and should be a solid team. Here's a look at the five games on the Spartans' schedule that stick out.
Michigan State has lost two straight in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and they will look to change that this season against Notre Dame. The two schools haven't met since 1979, when MSU beat the Fighting Irish on the way to a national championship, and it should be a good game. If Notre Dame star Jerian Grant plays, who was readmitted to the school after getting suspended in the spring, this could be a really intriguing matchup.
Michigan State will spend Thanksgiving playing in the Orlando Classic, formerly known as the Old Spice Classic. This tournament provides the Spartans with an opportunity to play some quality teams and a potential matchup with Kansas. The Jayhawks should be a force in college basketball next season and the matchup would be a great early season test for this Spartans team.
Michigan State will look for revenge after losing both regular season matchups to their in-state rivals last season. The Spartans did beat the Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament final, but that doesn't erase the bad taste in their mouth from losing the first two. These teams lose a lot from last year, so it will be a game to watch to see who has the upper hand in the state.
This game has all the storylines. Duke eliminated the Spartans from the 2012 NCAA tournament and is coming off back-to-back years where it landed some of Izzo's most sought after recruits. The game, played on Nov. 18, will be a huge early season test to see where both teams stand. Will freshmen Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor prove that they're stars for Duke, or will the Spartans show they are alright without the two coveted recruits?
Wisconsin is coming off a Final Four run and is the presumed favorite in the Big Ten, so if the Spartans want to win the Big Ten, a win over the Badgers is likely needed. The two teams meet just once in 2014-15, at Wisconsin, and that could be the best game on the Spartans' schedule. Both teams should hit their strides by Big Ten play and it should be a big game for both programs, who have turned into rivals in recent seasons.
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