Tuesday night is unlike any other in recent college basketball history. March Madness is still months away, but two of the biggest games of the year are on the schedule.
The State Farm Champions Classic will begin featuring some of the best teams and players in the nation. First, the top two teams will face of as No.1 Kentucky plays No.2 Michigan State. At the conclusion of that contest, the best freshman in the country, Andrew Wiggins, will lead No.5 Kansas against No.4 Duke and Jabari Parker.
Despite holding the No.1 spot both Top 25 polls, the Wildcats are the underdog in their third game of the season. They won their first two contests by an average of 31 points, including big performances from freshman Julius Randle. However, Kentucky, who are led by mostly freshmen, are getting points against a much more experienced Michigan State team. Alvin Ellis III is their top first-year player, but six other players with more experience average more points per game than him.
"We're going to have some problems with (Kentucky) matching up and they might have some problems with us," Spartans head coach Tom Izzo said. "(Kentucky) looks like an NBA team. It's a big, big team. Talented team. Well-coached team. Can't wait.”
The Jayhawks may have the best player in the tournament, but the Blue Devils are favored by five points. They are one of the deepest teams in the nation, starting players like Parker, Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon. Parker and Wiggins will be matched up against each other, and are expected to provide some of the most exciting moments of the young season.
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"I think we're ready," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "I wish that we had a couple more weeks, and I'm sure all teams this time of year wish they had a couple more weeks before they play somebody of the quality of opponent Duke is."
Players To Watch: Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle
START TIME: 7:30 p.m.
PLACE: United Center (Chicago)
Online Stream: WatchESPN
Updated Betting Odds: Michigan State by 3.5 (146), Duke by 5 (159)
Predictions: Kentucky 77, Michigan State 71; Duke 75, Kansas 74