The championship classic will be in full swing tonight, which means College Basketball season is officially back. Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky renew their experiences in the prolific classic. The games are held in the United Center in Chicago. NBA Scouts will crowd into the stadium as these 4 teams ooze with NBA talent. You better believe that NBA scouts are watching these blue blood programs, hoping one of these teams has a player to turn around their franchise.
Now these games get a lot of hype, and rightfully so. But these games aren’t always the best. Remember, every year the college basketball rosters change and transform, especially with these programs. Every year, these teams have a bunch of one-done talent and the roster is completely different than last year. For these teams, these guys are still adjusting to one another. Remember, this is MAX third regular season game these guys are playing with each other. So yes, there is a lot of talent on the floor, but the basketball isn’t always great. These games would be a lot better if played in January than in November, but hey we have #1 vs #2 and #4 vs #7 in the second week of college hoops. Can’t beat it.
Duke vs. Michigan State
#1 vs #2.
You can’t ask for much better than that.
The opening act of the Championship Classic will be a great one. Duke is the #1 team in the land, led by senior captain Grayson Allen, and stud freshman Marvin Bagley and Trevon Duval.
Michigan State welcomes back former lottery pick lock and National Player of the Year favorite Miles Bridges. Bridges shocked the College Basketball world when he announced he was coming back to school for his sophomore year. Michigan State also welcomes a lot of returning players form last years and one of the best recruits in the nation, Jaren Jackson Jr.
This game will played with a lot of tempo in the beginning. The tensions will be high, nerves will be going and these guys want to beat up on one another. I expect a sloppy beginning to this game, but the veterans Miles Bridges and Grayson Allen will slow the tempo down and allow each team to run their offense. After a sloppy first half, we will see why both of these teams are National Championship favorites in the second half. Buckets will be responded with buckets, runs will be responded by runs, this second half is going to be a heavy weight fight, going the distance, if not more.
I expect big games out of Grayson Allen (Duke), Gary Trent Jr (Duke), Miles Bridges (Michigan State), and Cassius Winston (Michigan State)
I expect Trevon Duval to struggle in this one as his shot isn’t falling early, which leads to early frustration and not getting his teammates as involved as he should be.
Jaren Jackson and Marvin Bagley will play decent in this one, however, the two of them will be going at it down low, which will affect their stat lines at the end of the day.
Prediction: This game heads to overtime, and during the extra period, it is the more experienced team who takes it in the end. I just don’t see how Duke can guard Miles Bridges, which will lead him to taking over in the extra period.
Michigan State 74, Duke 70
Kansas vs Kentucky
The night cap. Can this game follow up the heavyweight fight that America just witnessed between Michigan State and Duke?
Hell yes it can.
If you’re a Kentucky fan or a Kansas fan (which I am), get ready to sit on the edge of you’re seat the whole night.
You’re heart is pounding, you’re nervous, you’re sweating, the game coming down to the wire. That is all the symptoms of college basketball being back and I am so ready for it.
These two schools are the two winningest programs in college basketball history and these blue bloods have battled it out the last 3 years. Kansas won 2 of the last 3 mathups, but this year, like any other year is very different.
Kansas returns a similar roster from last year even after losing Landen Lucas, top 5 pick Josh Jackson and National Player of the Year, Frank Mason iii.
This years Kansas team is lead by National Player of the Year hopeful, senior Devonte Graham. Along with Malik Newman, Lagerald Vick and Svi. The backcourt is one of the best in the country. However, the front court is thin. With only 3 big men, Udoka Azibuke, Billy Preston and Mitch Lightfoot, the depth is extremely thin. This will be problems for Kansas all year.
This year’s Kentucky team is lead by brand new faces. Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt, PJ Washington and Hamidou Diallo, lead the very young but very talented Kentucky Wildcats.
Keys to the game:
Kansas: KU needs to continue to shoot the 3 ball well and they need to get to the free throw line. When starting 4 guards, they need to rebound as a team. Udoka Azibuke needs to do a good job defending the paint and being a force down low. When Preston and Udoka are in the game at the same time, they need to take advantage and out-rebound the Cats. If the 3 ball is not going in tonight, it can be a long night for the Jayhawks.
Kentucky: Defense and rebound. UK is much bigger than Kansas. They need to use that to their advantage. They can’t let the Kansas plays get behind them for an easy alley-oop and they need to get back on transition defense. Kansas loves to get out and run. If Kentucky can defensively rebound the ball, they should limit Kansas opportunities, obviously.
Predictions: Kentucky has had a rough two games to start the season but they’re gelling and merging together. They will have a break out game tonight, even though Kansas is by far the more experienced team. Kentucky will have a big run in them, where they just use their height and size to go down low to score.
Kentucky 79, Kansas 73