Tonight features two of the most highly-anticipated games in the entire college basketball season, as we see Michigan State and Kansas face-off, followed by a Duke-Kentucky match-up. These games were a significant highlight in last year’s season, as all four fan bases made up the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden. This year, however, the teams are not as star-studded as they were last year. The faces of all four programs left for the NBA Draft (Draymond Green, Thomas Robinson, Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers). With the teams less talented as they were last year, will the game be as significant as it was before? Yes, yes it will. These teams are still the faces of college basketball, their combined 17 National Championships can attest to that. Last year, the games showcased 2 competitive games between 4 talented teams, I expect this year to be no different.
Duke and Michigan State played last year in the opening of the season, with Duke prevailing 74-69. This year, Michigan State draws Kansas with a 1 already in the loss column coming at the hands of Connecticut. Kansas will be looking to knock off the Spartans in what should be a close game from start to finish. Both teams are ranked in the top 25 (MSU #21, KU #7) with talented teams and hopes of a championship run. The matchup to watch is between the big men down low, Jeff Withey of Kansas and Derrick Nix of Michigan State, both clog up the middle and battle to bring down boards. In the end, I think behind Withey’s stellar rebounding and equally impressive post moves, Kansas downs Michigan State in a well fought battle.
Duke and Kentucky have a lot of history that everyone knows about. Primarily because everyone has seen that damn shot by “he who must not be named” a billion times due to nefarious advertisements, ESPN, watching it on youtube while you cry yourself to sleep, etc. Anyways the “Big Blue Nation” has yet to forget about that dreadful day in ’92, even though the majority of Kentucky’s roster was barely, if even, born yet. The hatred runs thick through the blood of the Kentucky fans, and Duke is just here to play a game. You have heard it a thousand times, “Kentucky is really young,” but this time they are REALLY young. I look for the young players to make mistakes in the big game, and despite Kentucky being without their starting point guard Ryan Harrow, I look for the Cats to win what will be a close game throughout.
The Champions Classic is one of the best events of the college basketball season. Last year, it served as a preview for the National Championship, as Kentucky and Kansas faced off in the classic, then met again in the finals, with Kentucky being victorious in both. Will the Champions Classic introduce the National Champion again? Only time will tell…
Kansas and Michigan State tip-off at 7:00 PM EST. Directly after that game will be the Kentucky-Duke match-up around 9:30 PM EST. Both games are being televised on ESPN.
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