Hoops season is finally here for Michigan State. Head coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans open Friday night in Honolulu against Arizona as part of the Armed Forces Classic at the University of Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center.
Michigan State is ranked No. 12 in the preseason AP poll and No. 9 in the USA Today coaches poll, while Arizona is No. 10/11 in the polls. The Spartans lost national Player of the Year Denzel Valentine and three other seniors from last season’s Big Ten tournament champions but have a talented freshman class ready to replace them. Miles Bridges, Josh Langford, Cassius Winston and Nick Ward have been ranked as the No. 3 freshman class for this season by 247Sports.com and other recruiting outlets.
This game is the start of a November schedule that could include as many as four games against ranked opponents, including No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kentucky. The Spartans will travel more than 13,600 miles in a span of 22 days.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to watch/listen to the season-opening matchup:
Michigan State vs Arizona: game time, details
Time: 7 p.m. (ET) tip-off
Date: Friday, Nov. 11
Location: Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.
The line: N/A
Which TV channel station is Michigan State vs. Arizona on?
ESPN will broadcast the game.
How can I watch Michigan State vs. Arizona online?
How can I listen to Michigan State vs. Arizona on the radio?
The game can be heard on radio over the 38-affiliate Spartan Sports Network, including flagship stations WMMQ-FM (94.9)/WJIM-AM (1240) in Lansing and WJR-AM (760) in Detroit. It is also on Sirius/XM Channel 80.
Hold your own on the boards
That sounds odd to say about Michigan State, which normally is a strong rebounding team. But this edition has only one healthy scholarship player taller than 6-foot-7. That is Ward, the freshman forward, who is 6-8, 250 pounds. This team is going to rely more on speed and pushing the ball up the floor quickly to offset its lack of interior size. Sophomore 6-5 forward Kenny Goins is going to have battle a lot of bigger bodies inside all season, and it starts with Arizona. The Wildcats have three players listed 6-11 or taller. It will be important for Michigan State’s guards to rebound well. Arizona only has seven scholarship players traveling to the game and won’t have sophomore guard Allonzo Trier available because of an eligibility issue.
Who else scores?
Bridges scored 33 and 20 points in Michigan State’s two exhibition games, but the Spartans aren’t sure yet who the second and third options are going to be on offense. Senior guard Eron Harris is a possibility. He played a defensive-minded role last season and averaged 9.3 points per game. Harris scored 17.2 points per game as a sophomore at West Virginia before transferring to Michigan State, so he won’t be afraid to take a shot. Winston has also shown the ability to shoot from the outside, something that has surprised Izzo. It probably won’t be the same players scoring every game for Michigan State, but candidates need to start showing themselves.
Don’t be sloppy with the ball
Michigan State committed 18 turnovers in its final exhibition game against Saginaw Valley State, many coming off lazy passes. That’s not acceptable, even with a team that has four freshmen acclimating into the rotation. Junior point guard Tum Tum Nairn Jr. and Winston will be on the floor at the same time for certain parts of the game, but whoever is handling the ball must care for it.
Kevin Goheen covers Michigan State for Landof10.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CincyGoGo