Before the arrival of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Michigan State and Notre Dame had gone through a major lull in terms of meeting on the basketball court.
After playing regularly until 1975, the Spartans and Fighting Irish didn’t play again in the regular season until 2014 (Michigan State won a meeting in the 1979 NCAA Tournament), when Notre Dame earned a one-point win during an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game.
The teams have since played twice more and will brace themselves for another meeting as No. 20 Michigan State (5-2) travels to South Bend, Ind., to face host Notre Dame (5-1) on Wednesday night.
Following the loss to Notre Dame in South Bend in 2014, Michigan State earned home wins over Notre Dame in 2017 and 2020, the latter of which wasn’t part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
With news breaking Monday that this will be the last year of the inter-conference event, it might be awhile again before Michigan State and Notre Dame meet in basketball.
Michigan State went 2-1 in Portland, Ore., during last week’s Phil Knight Invitational, with a loss to Alabama and wins over Oregon and Portland.
Winning two of three there might have been a pleasant surprise for the Spartans, given they played without two of their top rotation players, senior forward Malik Hall and sophomore guard Jaden Akins.
Hall is out multiple weeks with a foot injury, while Akins is day-to-day because of a foot injury.
Before heading to Portland, Michigan State was 2-1 in another grueling three-game stretch against Gonzaga, Kentucky and Villanova.
“When I came here on this trip after losing those two players and playing those three games in seven days, there’s part of me that was hoping we could win a game,” coach Tom Izzo told the Spartan Radio Network. “To win two out of three and teams like North Carolina going home 1-2, it was great for us.”
Senior guard Tyson Walker (15.6 ppg) and senior forward Joey Hauser (13.9) have led the Spartans offensively.
Notre Dame is coming off a 63-51 loss on Friday to St. Bonaventure on a neutral court. The Fighting Irish are 5-0 at home this season and should be a much fresher team than the Spartans entering Wednesday’s game.
Notre Dame has featured a balanced scoring attack this year, with senior forward Nate Laszewski (18.2) leading five players who are averaging double figures in scoring. Senior guard Dane Goodwin (14.3), freshman J.J. Starling (12.8), senior Trey Wertz (11.8) and senior Cormac Ryan (10) are the other players.
Notre Dame also hopes to soon gain another playmaker in Niagara transfer Marcus Hammond, who might be able to suit up against the Spartans after missing the previous six games with a sprained MCL.
“We certainly could use him,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We could use another veteran body out there and another guard who can make a play.”
–Field Level Media