W2W4: Michigan/Detroit Mercy and Michigan State/Oakland at Little Caesars Arena

Michigan State to play Oakland, Michigan battles Detroit Mercy in scheduled doubleheader at Little Caesars Arena.

On Saturday, college basketball is taking over Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit as four of the state’s Division I men’s hoops programs will partake in a doubleheader showcase.

A formal announcement was made back in April by Olympia Entertainment, a joint conference featuring all four coaches — Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Michigan’s John Beilein, Oakland’s Greg Kampe and Detroit’s Bacari Alexander.

LIVE: Olympia Entertainment is expected to announce a college basketball double header that will happen in mid-December. http://bit.ly/2qaDVA6

Posted by FOX 2 Detroit on Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The doubleheader, which will begin at noon ET, will be single-ticket admission to watch both games at LCA. The event will effectively serve as an appetizer for when the new arena plays host to first- and second-round games of the 2018 Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament in March.

THE RIVALRY CONTINUES

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Oakland
Dec 23, 2016; Rochester, MI, USA; Oakland Golden Grizzlies head coach Greg Kampe during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Athletics Center O’rena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The latest chapter in the friendly rivalry between Izzo and Kampe will continue and transition to Little Caesars Arena. Michigan State and Oakland have played 15 times since the 1998 season, with all 15 games going in favor of the Spartans.

Of the previous meetings, four of them were played at The Palace of Auburn Hills, just up the road from Oakland University. The last such neutral-court game was in December of 2015, when the then top-ranked Spartans survived a scare from the Kay Felder-led Golden Grizzlies, 99-93 in overtime.

Michigan State (9-1) so far this season has played like one of the more premier teams in college basketball, highlighted by their depth and highly-touted underclassmen led by super sophomore Miles Bridges. Oakland (6-4) meanwhile adds yet another litmus test to their schedule before entering Horizon League play, which Kampe has grown accustomed to doing over the years.

RIVALRY RENEWED, WITH A TWIST

On the other side of the docket, we see Michigan playing Detroit Mercy. It seems just like any other ordinary in-state, early-season hoops game, but now there is an added wrinkle to the fold.

Photo Credit: MGoBlog/Flickr

Detroit head coach Bacari Alexander, now in his second season with the Titans, will square off with his former boss in John Beilein. Alexander served as an assistant under Beilein at Michigan from 2010-16 before taking the open coaching position at Mercy in April of 2016.

The Titans (4-6) have dropped four straight entering this one, three of which were by single-digits, but they are already halfway home to their win total from a year ago in roughly a third of the games played. Michigan (9-3) has bounced back from a terrible loss at Ohio State, a game in which they were up 20 at one point, with big wins over UCLA and at Texas. The Wolverines

The two programs played sporadically between 1958-84 before playing annually during the 90’s. They have played just twice since the turn of the century, most recently in 2014, a 71-62 win in favor of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Overall, the Wolverines lead the all-time series head-to-head, 23-4.

SCHEDULE

  • Michigan vs. Detroit Mercy | Noon ET on ESPNU
  • Michigan State vs. Oakland | Approx. 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU
  • TICKETS: Click here for information

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The long list of events being booked for LCA continues. Leading up to the announcement of this college hoops doubleheader, the NCAA announced that the new arena in downtown Detroit would host multiple big-time college events in the future, namely the 2020 Frozen Four and first weekend games for the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. And NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has also said that holding All-Star festivities at Little Caesars Arena is in the works.