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Michigan State’s Tom Izzo says facing Rutgers at MSG is good for both teams

MINNEAPOLIS— The Big Ten has yet to announce a venue for Rutgers basketball’s second meeting with Michigan State this upcoming season, but Tom Izzo spoke about the contest with no doubt about where it will be played.

The Spartans’ Hall of Fame coach confirmed at Big Ten Media Days on Wednesday that he and Scarlet Knights head coach Steve Pikiell agreed to play the contest at Madison Square Garden, which NJ Advance Media previously reported when the conference released its schedule last month.

The game is scheduled for Saturday, February 4, and while lists neither an official venue, both the Big Ten and Michigan State websites list the tip time as noon Eastern. The Knicks are scheduled to host the Los Angeles Clippers at 7 pm that night.

“I think, sure, it’s more beneficial to us because we can bring more fans there, this and that, but he’s an East Coast guy that recruits a lot out there,” Izzo said. “I think this is a big plus for them too. I don’t think it would have been done if we both didn’t agree to it.”

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It marks the third time in eight seasons that Rutgers plays a conference game at The World’s Most Famous Arena: the Scarlet Knights first hosted Wisconsin there in December of 2016, then faced off with Michigan in February of 2020.

This season’s game, like its meeting with the Badgers, will replace a Rutgers’ home game, meaning the Spartans skip out on a trip to Piscataway and avoid a dreaded road game at Jersey Mike’s Arena.

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The venue has garnered a reputation across the league as a tough place to play in recent years, with the Scarlet Knights winning 32 out of their last 36 home games with fans in the stands over the past three seasons. That includes back-to-back wins over Michigan State that came by a combined margin of 51 points thanks to historic performances on both ends of the floor from the Scarlet Knights.

But Izzo doesn’t completely buy the notion that the Spartans are catching a break.

“I thought not having to go to Penn State (in 2017) would have been beneficial, then we went to the Palestra and got our butts kicked,” Izzo said. “There are going to be a lot of Rutgers people there. Steve has done an incredible job. I think it’s good for him and his program, too. The RAC is a tough place to play but Madison Square Garden is where every player dreams of playing. I think it’s going to be good.”

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Brian Fonseca may be reached at bfonseca@njadvancemedia.com.

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