On Veteran’s Day this year, November 11, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will face the Michigan State Spartans in an NCAA basketball game played on the aircraft carrier’s deck, while the USS Abraham Lincoln moors at the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado.
The original game was held in November 2011 on the USS Carl Vinson. In that game, North Carolina defeated Michigan State in front of then-President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. The USS Carl Vinson had returned just six months prior to leading the Osama bin Laden burial at sea.
“When we played a game on the deck of an aircraft carrier just over 10 years ago to help honor Veteran’s Day, we thought it might be a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience,” Tom Izzo, Michigan State head coach, says in a news release. “I know our team, our players, our coaches and staff and Michigan State Athletics is very excited about getting the opportunity to play a tremendous program like Gonzaga on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and honoring all of those who serve our military.”
In 2012, the NCAA planned four aircraft carrier games, but the weather did not follow the plan. Two of them could not take place.
After the successful 2011 game, one of the planned games on November 9, 2012, on USS in Charleston, South Carolina—a women’s game between Notre Dame and Ohio State—went out smoothly. But the men’s game between Ohio State and Marquette scheduled for later in the evening on the same day was canceled due to condensation on the court.
The same evening’s planned game in Gainesville, Florida, aboard the USS Bataan, was shut down at halftime due to condensation on the hardwood. In San Diego, also on November 9, 2012, rain pushed the Syracuse vs. San Diego State game on the USS Midway to the afternoon of November 11. Sunshine saved the game, but winds in San Diego Bay may have contributed to San Diego State shooting 1-for-18 from three-point range.