Where is Gonzaga vs. Michigan State played? Location & more to know about USS Abraham Lincoln

For the first time since the 2012-13 season, college basketball will see a game played on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

It’s fitting, then, that Michigan State will be onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln as part of this year’s Armed Forces Classic: The Spartans, who will take on No. 2 Gonzaga in Friday’s Armed Forces Classic, played in the first aircraft carrier game in 2011.

“We are honored to have the unique opportunity to stage the Armed Forces Classic on the USS Abraham Lincoln,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said in a statement. “First and foremost, we want to thank the men and women of the Navy, and the entire Armed Forces, for allowing us into their world to share their stories and to thank them for their service to our country.

“We will work with the teams, the Navy and our collective Events group to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all participants and spectators.”

MORE: Watch the Armed Forces Classic live on Sling TV

That said, a couple of ill-fated attempts at carrier games to start the 2012-13 season may be the reason college basketball hasn’t attempted such an event for 10 years. Whether the Spartans and Bulldogs can play Friday’s game without any issue remains to be seen.

Should both teams complete their primetime matchup with no complications, then it will be a triumphant return for college basketball onto one of the most distinct arenas in all of sports.

With that, The Sporting News breaks down everything you need to know about Friday’s Armed Forces Classic between Michigan State and No. 2 Gonzaga, including the histories behind the Armed Forces Classic and college basketball carrier games:

MORE: Sporting News 2022-23 preseason college basketball All-America team

Where is the Armed Forces Classic?

  • Location: USS Abraham Lincoln (San Diego)

The 2022 Armed Forces Classic will take place on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, stationed in the San Diego harbor. Though this will be the carrier’s first time hosting a game on its deck, this will be the third time the game will be played in the San Diego harbor.

Armed Forces Classic history

Michigan State not only played in the first college basketball aircraft carrier game, but also participated in the first game of the Armed Forces Classic at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, falling 66-62 to UConn in the inaugural matchup.

The ensuing seven games have taken place at various military bases across the world, including South Korea, Puerto Rico, Japan and more. This season’s meeting between the Spartans and Bulldogs will be the first since 2019, as the 2020 and 2021 contests were canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2015 meeting between No. 9 Gonzaga and Pitt had to be canceled after the first half, as a combination of no air conditioning and high humidity following a rainstorm caused the playing surface to be slippery. One Pitt player, James Robinson, slipped on the surface and fell face-first onto the floor, suffering a face cut.

“It was bad,” Robinson told ESPN at the time. “We got a feel when we came out for practice (Friday) but could tell it was slippery during warmups. It’s unfortunate. This is such a great event. We wanted to finish it for them — the real heroes. I wanted to play the second half. I had already played a half with the injury.”

Here is a rundown of all the Armed Forces Classic competitions since the inaugural 2012 game:

Date Location Teams Outcome
Nov. 9, 2012 Ramstein Air Base, Germany No. 14 Michigan State vs. UConn UConn 66, MSU 62
Nov. 8, 2013 Camp Humphreys, South Korea No. 19 Oregon vs. Georgetown Oregon 82, Georgetown 75
Nov. 14, 2014 CGAS Borinquen, Puerto Rico No. 8 Louisville vs. Minnesota Louisville 81, Minnesota 66
Nov. 13, 2015 Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Japan No. 9 Gonzaga vs. Pitt Canceled
Nov. 11, 2016 Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu No. 10 Arizona vs. No. 12 Michigan State Arizona 65, MSU 63
Nov. 10, 2017 Ramstein Air Base, Germany No. 11 West Virginia vs. No. 25 Texas A&M Texas A&M 88, WVU 65
Nov. 9, 2018 Fort Bliss, Texas Texas vs. Arkansas Texas 73, Arkansas 71 (OT)
Nov. 8, 2019 Alaska Airlines Center, Anchorage, Alaska No. 16 Baylor vs. Washington Washington 67, Baylor 64
Nov. 11, 2022 San Diego No. 2 Gonzaga vs. Michigan State TBD

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College basketball aircraft carrier games

Friday’s game will be just the fourth-ever game to be played on an aircraft carrier — if the teams can complete the competition.

The first such game occurred Nov. 11, 2011, when top-ranked North Carolina prevailed 67-55 over Michigan State on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson. The game was played in front of a crowd that included President Barack Obama and his family.

The success of that game created four additional “Carrier Classic” games the following season. Unfortunately, only two of the games could be played through completion. The meeting between Ohio State and Marquette in Charleston, S.C., was canceled due to condensation on the court — an issue that didn’t occur in the day’s previous game, a matchup between the Notre Dame and Ohio State women’s basketball teams.

A similar issue occurred in Jacksonville, Fla., when Florida and Georgetown’s game was canceled at halftime due to high condensation. Both of the carrier games to be played in San Diego were completed with no issue.

Here is a rundown of the carrier games in college basketball history:

Date Location (carrier) Teams Outcome
Nov. 11, 2011 San Diego (USS Carl Vinson) No. 1 North Carolina vs. Michigan State UNC 67, MSU 55
Nov. 9, 2012 Charleston, S.C. (USS Yorktown) No. 7 Notre Dame women vs. No. 19 Ohio State women ND 57, OSU 51
Nov. 9, 2012 Charleston, S.C. (USS Yorktown) No. 4 Ohio State vs. Marquette Canceled
Nov. 9, 2012 Jacksonville, Fla. (USS Bataan) No. 10 Florida vs. Georgetown Canceled
Nov. 11, 2012 San Diego (USS Midway) No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 25 San Diego State Syracuse 62, SDSU 49
Nov. 11, 2022 San Diego (USS Abraham Lincoln) No. 2 Gonzaga vs. Michigan State TBD

When is the Armed Forces Classic?

  • Date: Friday, Nov. 11
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

The Armed Forces Classic between Michigan State and No. 2 Gonzaga will tip off at 6:30 p.m. ET. The game will take place on Friday, which is also Veterans Day.

Armed Forces Classic TV coverage

  • TV channel: ESPN
  • Live stream: ESPN app, Sling TV

ESPN will carry the national broadcast of the Armed Forces Classic, something which it has broadcast every year since the inaugural game in 2012. Streaming options for the game include the ESPN app and Sling TV.

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