Ferris State To Face Three In-State D1 Schools

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's basketball squad could face one of the nation's toughest starts to the 2011-12 hoops campaign.

The Bulldogs, who received plenty of noteworthy attention a year ago en route to winning the 2010-11 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division Championship and advancing to the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen, will square off against three in-state Division I schools early this season.

FSU will take on perennial Division I power Michigan State in an exhibition contest on Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.  Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. (ET).

In addition to the exhbitition matchup against the Spartans, the Bulldogs' first two regular-season games will be road contests at Division I members Michigan and Central Michigan.  Ferris State will visit Crisler Arena to square off with the Michigan Wolverines on Friday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. (ET) in Ann Arbor.  The following night, on Saturday, Nov. 12, the Bulldogs travel to nearby Mt. Pleasant to battle the Chippewas inside McGuirk Arena also at 7 p.m. (ET).

"This will be really exciting for our players and a chance to go take on the big boys," said FSU head coach Bill Sall.  "We're thankful for this great opportunity to go play two Big Ten schools and CMU.  It will be huge competition, but I think we'll learn a lot about ourselves and we're looking forward to all three of these contests."

The matchups against MSU and UM are both tentatively slated to be carried by the BigTenNetwork.com.

The Ferris State University Alumni Association is also planning a special reception for both of the matchups at Michigan State and Michigan.  A pregame reception will be held at the Kellogg Center prior to the game against the Spartans and will take place at the Pizza House in Ann Arbor before the contest versus Michigan.  Both are only $20 per person, which includes a game ticket.  Visit www.ferrisalumni.org for more information.

Tickets for all three contests will be available for purchase online as the games approach and links for all three school ticket sites can be found below.  The game at Michigan will represent the first regular-season contest for the Wolverines in the newly renovated Crisler Arena, which includes new seats and a new HD scoreboard.

Last season, Michigan State registered a 19-15 overall record and placed tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a 9-9 league mark under head coach Tom Izzo.  Meanwhile, Michigan recorded a 21-14 overall ledger and was also 9-9 in conference play for head coach John Beilein.  Both teams also reached the NCAA Division I Touranament.  Head coach Ernie Zeigler's CMU squad posted a 10-21 mark and was third in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) West Division last year with a 7-9 league record.

"We're extremely appreciative of being able to take on these three teams," Sall said.  "This is a great way to open the year, but will certainly be a big challenge when we take the court."

A year ago, the Bulldogs nearly upset a Big Ten conference school as they battled the Indiana Hoosiers to overtime in a 78-65 exhibition setback at historic Assembly Hall in Bloomington (Ind.) when a potential game-winning field goal at the regulation buzzer by the Bulldogs was waved off after a replay review.

This year's meeting with CMU marks the third consecutive season the Bulldogs will play a MAC team in regular-season competition.  The Bulldogs fell to Central Michigan on the road 82-69 two years ago (11/16/09) and suffered a 74-60 defeat a year ago (1/4/11) at Eastern Michigan.

FSU last faced one of the state's two largest Division I schools in Michigan or Michigan State nearly four years ago (11/1/07) as the Bulldogs dropped a 78-40 decision to Michigan at Crisler Arena.  That contest marked the debut for former Ferris State forward/center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills), who wrapped up his Bulldog career as the Divisiion II Bulletin National Player of the Year last season and is one of four starters the Bulldogs must replace this campaign.

Ferris State concluded the 2010-11 season by reaching the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen and the Midwest Regional Championship Game in Louisville, Ky.  The Bulldogs also captured the GLIAC North Division Championship and hosted the GLIAC Tournament Semifinals and Finals.  They earned runner-up laurels in both the conference and NCAA regional tournaments, where they were defeated by eventual Division II National Champion Bellarmine (Ky.) before a sellout crowd on the Knights' home floor.

FSU's 24-8 overall mark last year was the program's best since posting a 24-7 record and also reaching the regional final in 2004-05.  Ferris State posted its first NCAA Tournament wins since the '04-05 season with back-to-back victories over Wayne State and Drury (Mo.) in the opening two games of last year's regional tournament.

Overall, the 24 wins recorded by the Bulldogs was tied for the third-highest total in school history and FSU's 16 league regular-season victories was best in the conference and tied for the most GLIAC wins in Bulldog annals.

Ferris State officially opens preseason practice for the 2011-12 season on Oct. 15.

Bulldog Bites:  Both Justin Keenan and another Bulldog graduate from last season, former guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford), are currently playing professionally overseas.  Keenan is in Uruguay while Gay is playing in Germany this season ....... The exhibition game at MSU was scheduled after a chance meeting at a golf outing this summer between Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis and current Bulldog junior forward Daniel Sutherlin (Detroit/Renaissance) at the Tullymore Golf Club in Stanwood where Sutherlin worked this past summer ..... Besides Gay and Keenan, the Bulldogs will also have to replace starting forwards Matt DeHart (Greenville) and Lou Williams (Muskegon Heights) .... The Bulldogs return eight letterwinners this season from last year's GLIAC Championship squad and will welcome the addition of a eight-member recruiting class ...... The lone returning starter is senior point guard Dontae Molden (Detroit/Pershing).

Below are links to ticket sales for all three contests:

Michigan State:
http://www.msuspartans.com/tickets/m-baskbl-tickets.html

Michigan:
http://www.mgoblue.com/tickets/tickets-m-baskbl.html

Central Michigan:
http://www.cmuchippewas.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10500&ATCLID=205122822&KEY=&DB_OEM_ID=10500&DB_LANG=&IN_SUBSCRIBER_CONTENT=

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