Notre Dame men to host Michigan State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

TOM NOIE
South Bend Tribune

Separated by 159 miles and located in neighboring states, Michigan State and Notre Dame have long operated as if on opposite ends of the country when it comes to scheduling men’s basketball games.

It’s been 35 years since the teams last met, 39 since they played a regular-season game. But that extended streak ends in December.

As part of the 16th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Notre Dame hosts Michigan State on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at Purcell Pavilion. It will be the first Irish home game in the Challenge since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in July 2013. Tip times and networks will be announced in August.

“This is going to be a terrific early-season test for our players and a great non-conference home game for our fans,” Irish coach Mike Brey said in a statement.

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchups are dictated by ESPN, which looks for as many marquee matchups as possible. Syracuse travels to Michigan while Duke visits Wisconsin and Louisville hosts Ohio State in December.

Michigan State is ranked No. 18 in ESPN’s early poll. Notre Dame is one of three unranked teams (Maryland, Ohio State) to face a ranked opponent (Louisville, Virginia) in the Challenge.

Michigan State was 29-9, 12-6 and tied for second in the Big Ten last season before winning the conference tournament. Notre Dame was 15-17, 6-12 in the ACC. The Irish finished 13th in the 15-team league before losing to Wake Forest in the first round of the conference tournament.

The Spartans lost guard Keith Appling and power forward Adriean Payne to graduation and sophomore guard Gary Harris to the NBA draft. Forward Branden Dawson elected to return for his final season in East Lansing. He averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds last season.

December’s game will be the first time the teams have met since March 18, 1979 at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Led by then-sophomore Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the Spartans earned a trip the NCAA Final Four in Salt Lake City with an 80-68 victory in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

It will be Michigan State’s first trip to Purcell Pavilion since a 76-73 Irish loss Feb. 5, 1975.

Notre Dame leads the all-time series, which dates back to 1908, 59-35. The Irish are 35-12 at home against the Spartans. The teams often played two games — home-and-home — every year through 1964. They have not played a regular season game since 1975.

“It's great to renew a natural rivalry, one that has provided some great games in both football and basketball over the years,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. “Mike Brey and I have been friends forever, and I have a lot of respect for his program and what they have achieved."

Brey, who has never coached a college game against Izzo, figured his team would get a home game this season in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Notre Dame lost at Iowa, 98-93 in its first Challenge last December. Michigan State lost at home to North Carolina.

Iowa visits North Carolina this season.

Michigan State is 6-8 with one road win (North Carolina, 1999) in the Challenge. The Spartans have been ranked in the Top 15 at the time of the Challenge during six of the last seven seasons.

The ACC leads the all-time series 88-67. It won each of the first 10 matchups before the Big Ten won three straight. The last two seasons have ended 6-6.

Michigan State is one of two Big Ten teams on the Notre Dame schedule for 2014-15. The Irish play Purdue on Dec. 20 at the fourth-annual Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Hall of Fame matchups set

Notre Dame also learned Thursday that it will face Massachusetts and former Big East colleague Providence during the Nov. 22-23 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn. The Irish play home games against Binghampton and Navy before automatically advancing to the two-day event.

Also in the Final Four is ACC colleague Florida State.

Notre Dame pays Massachusetts at noon on Saturday, Nov. 22 before facing Providence at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23.

Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton pauses at the top of the key as Clemson's Rod Hall guards during their game Tuesday at Purcell Pavilion. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)