The first regular season major college basketball game in Europe will tip off on November 9 when the University of Connecticut and Michigan State will face each other in Germany at the Armed Forces Classic to start the NCAA men’s hoops season.
The season-opening game will take place at Ramstein Air Base in Germany in a transport hanger in front of in front of about 3,000 troops as well as an audience watching on TV. The NCAA may add additional games to the Armed Forces Classic at a later date.
The Armed Forces Classic was in the works for some months, but ESPN made the formal announcement today, presumably after obtaining official approval from the US Defense Department.
Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said, according to Yahoo!, that “being a part in the first college basketball game to be played on a military base overseas is truly an honor.” Last season, the Spartans played North Carolina on the deck of an aircraft carrier. New UConn head coach Kevin Ollie offered similar sentiments: “We at the University of Connecticut are honored and humbled to be asked to participate in such a terrific event as the first Armed Forces Classic.”
The Armed Forces Classic will be Ollie’s first UConn game as the team’s head coach. Ollie, who was a star point guard at UConn and a 13-year NBA veteran, succeeded Jim Calhoun who retired after 26 years with the Huskies. Ollie was an assistant coach under Calhoun for two years.
The game will air at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN and is part of ESPN’s Veteran’s Week in conjunction with the Veteran’s Day holiday on November 11.
According to ESPN, the UConn 2012-2013 roster has three players from Germany so the Armed Forces Classic will be something like a homecoming for them.