FORT MYERS, Fla. - The FGCU basketball programs will both make a trip up north to the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. to take on the Spartans of Michigan State. The men’s and women’s 2009-10 schedules are not expected to be released for at least another week as contracts and tip-off times are completed.
The men’s team will face Michigan State on Nov. 13, while the women will be in East Lansing on Dec. 13. Both tip times have yet to be determined.
The Spartans, the Big Ten champ that lost to North Carolina 89-72 in last season’s NCAA title game, will open its season at home against FGCU, which wrapped up the 2008-09 season with an 11-20 record in its second Division I campaign. Michigan State finished 31-7 last season. The Breslin Center, which opened in 1989, seats close to 15,000.
“The biggest thing that jumps out, obviously, is that MSU is the highest-ranked program that we’ve ever played,” said FGCU men’s basketball coach Dave Balza. “We try to schedule challenging non-conference games in order to better prepare ourselves for A-Sun conference competition. We think our fans enjoy seeing us face-off against elite programs, and Michigan State definitely fits into that category.”
The Eagles are currently is 0-2 against Big Ten teams, having lost at Iowa in 2007 and at Michigan last season.
FGCU’s women’s team, the defending Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season champion, will play a Spartan team that finished 22-11overall and lost 69-68 to Iowa State in the “Sweet 16” last season.
FGCU wrapped up the 2008-09 season with a 26-5 record and for the second consecutive season ended the campaign in the second round of the postseason WNIT. The Eagles lost 88-81 in overtime at eventual WNIT champ USF. The Eagles return all five starters and six of their top seven scorers.
“I think it will be an exciting game for our team because Michigan State is such a respected program, and also it’s a good chance for our players from Michigan and the Midwest to go back and play a game close to home,” FGCU women’s basketball coach Karl Smesko said. “I think this is something that players will look forward to, especially because MSU is a BCS school.”