EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State wrestling head coach Roger Chandler has announced the schedule for the 2016-17 season, his first as head coach of the Spartans.
While MSU does not face defending NCAA and Big Ten Champion Penn State nor Ohio State, who finished second in the Big Ten and third at the NCAA Championships, during the regular-season, the Spartans will tangle with four Big Ten foes that finished in the top 10 last season. A total of seven Big Ten teams on MSU's 2016-17 schedule were in the final 2015-16 top-25 rankings.
"Wrestling in the Big Ten Conference is exciting, it's the best conference in the country, so you're always going to have a top level schedule year in and year out," said Chandler, who is in his first season as head coach, taking over the reins of the program after 25-year head coach Tom Minkel retired. "With that being said, we look forward to our annual matches against Big Ten Conference foes, and we also get to wrestle up and coming programs such Princeton and Drexel, who have really been on the rise the last couple of years, and Lock Haven just got three new transfers from other universities and they're definitely going to be a challenge for us this season."
The Spartans' schedule features a total of 12 teams that finished in the top 50.
"I think we have a very good overall schedule. It's going to be a challenging schedule, but at the same time, we look forward against competing against the best and looking to take the program in a new direction," Chandler said.
Counting the Michigan State Open, MSU has seven home events.
"We've got a great home schedule. Any time you can have in-state opponents Michigan and Central Michigan at home in the same season, it will create some great excitement for not just our fans, but wrestling fans of those other schools across the state and this region, so we're anxiously looking forward to those dual meets," Chandler said. "We also have traditional powers Iowa and Minnesota at home, so anytime you can get those schools at home, it is a great opportunity to showcase wrestling to the state."
MSU's 2016-17 season will commence on Nov. 5 at the Eastern Michigan Open at Ypsilanti, Michigan, before the Spartans' home-opening action of hosting the annual Michigan State Open on Nov. 20.
The Spartans will then head to Pennsylvania for a pair of duals on the same day in different locations, facing Bloomsburg in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, early in the afternoon of Nov. 26, then heading to Lock Haven, Pa., to battle Lock Haven in the evening of Nov. 26.
MSU will open December with another multi meet, wrestling in the Nebraska Quad in Lincoln, Neb. The Spartans will kick off action in a Big Ten dual against Nebraska, before battling Drexel and Princeton later in the day.
Michigan State returns home for its Big Ten home-opener against Minnesota on Dec. 9 before heading to Nevada for the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18, completing the 2016 portion of the schedule.
"We're going to the Reno Tournament of Champions this year, which will be a great opportunity to see some of the West Coast schools we would traditionally not see and compete against, so I think it will be a great experience for our guys to get a little bit outside of their element and see some different things out there across the country," Chandler said.
After the holiday break, Michigan State will open the 2017 portion of its ledger by hosting Iowa on either Jan. 6 or 8, which will be determined by the Big Ten Network that will be nationally televising the match.
MSU will then head to Chicago to battle Northwestern on Jan. 13, before returning home for a match-up with Maryland on Jan. 15 and then facing in-state foe Central Michigan on Jan. 20. The Spartans then have two road matches, first heading back to Pennsylvania to take on Clarion on Jan. 22 in Clarion, Pennsylvania, then heading to Champaign, Illinois, to battle Illinois on Jan. 27.
The Spartans close out their home slate by facing Rutgers on Jan. 29 and then square off with in-state rival Michigan on Feb. 5. MSU has another in-state match-up, traveling back to Ypsilanti, to take on Eastern Michigan. In its final meet of the regular-season, Michigan State will wrestle at Wisconsin on Feb. 17 in Madison, Wisconsin.
The 2017 Big Ten Championships will be hosted by Indiana on March 4-5 in Bloomington, Indiana, and the NCAA Championships will also be held in the Midwest, taking place March 16-18 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.