Michigan schools to inaugurate college hoops at Little Caesars Arena

DETROIT -- Little Caesars Arena is set for its college basketball debut, starting with Michigan facing Detroit Mercy followed by Michigan State playing Oakland on Dec. 16.

The doubleheader in downtown Detroit, at the new home of the Red Wings and Pistons, was announced Tuesday.

And, it might become an annual event.

"Our hope is that we can do this again, and again and again," Olympia Entertainment president Tom Wilson said, standing in a construction zone just outside of the arena. "One of the reasons we're out here is this building is literally 129 days away from being complete."

The arena is the centerpiece of District Detroit, a 50-block development that will have restaurants, retail stores and residences.

"You can't have a great state unless the best city in the state is booming," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "And I think what they're doing around here in District Detroit is unbelievable."

The Wolverines and Titans will play first, just as they did in Joe Louis Arena's first event in 1979, and the Spartans and Golden Grizzlies will play in the second game. As logical as the matchups appear to be, Michigan coach John Beilein said it's a challenge to align schedules for all four programs to play on the same day.

"This took so much to put this together," he said. "I don't know how it will go in the future."

Detroit and Oakland will play in the same arena next March in the Horizon League tournament. All four teams will try to earn an invitation to play in Detroit for the NCAA tournament.

Izzo hopes the Big Ten chooses to play a men's basketball tournament in the Motor City, which is about midway between the most distant schools -- Nebraska and Rutgers -- in the conference.

"We probably are as centrally located as anybody," Izzo said.