Game to be played as neutral site at United Center in Chicago, Illinois
Second-ranked Kentucky and fourth-ranked Duke are revamped programs and the two powerhouses engage in a big-time early-season clash in the Champions Classic at the United Center in Chicago on Tuesday. The Blue Devils won last season’s NCAA title with No. 3 overall NBA pick Jahlil Okafor leading the way while the Wildcats reached the Final Four before being eliminated and saw standout center Karl-Anthony Towns become the top selection of the NBA draft.
Both programs have reloaded with highly regarded freshman and have cruised to two easy victories. Kentucky forward Skal Labissiere averaged 17.5 points in his first two collegiate games and had 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting in Saturday’s 87-57 victory over New Jersey Institute of Technology. Duke forward Brandon Ingram is averaging 18 points but it has been holdover Grayson Allen leading the way with a 27-point average. “We don’t want to have to lose to learn from something,” Allen, a sophomore, said after Saturday’s 113-75 victory over Bryant. “We want to learn from wins. We want the freshmen to be really good, and they’re going to have to be really good for us.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: The Blue Devils opened as 2.5-point dogs and have been bet up +2. The total has held at its opening number of 156.5.
INJURY REPORT: N/A.
ABOUT KENTUCKY (2-0, 1-1 ATS, 2-0 O/U): Labissiere made 76.5 percent of his shots in the two victories and the Wildcats also received a boost from freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe in the win over NJIT. Briscoe missed the opener with a knee injury and set the tone in his debut with 11 points and 12 rebounds. “The biggest thing was, Isaiah makes us a different team,” Calipari said afterward. “He has a winning attitude. He’s going to do what it takes, he’s going to play to win.”
ABOUT DUKE (2-0, 0-1 ATS, 1-0 O/U): Junior shooting guard Matt Jones averaged 14.5 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the two easy wins as he goes from role player to starter. Jones had a career-best 19 points in the victory over Bryant but played just three minutes in the second half as coach Mike Krzyzewski was mindful of the looming matchup with Kentucky. “I just decided not to play Matt the rest of the second half just as a precaution, not that he was hurt,” Krzyzewski said afterward. “He’s not hurt or anything, but he’s been not practicing as much because of the groin.”
* Kentucky is 1-4 ATS in its last five neutral site games.
* Duke is 6-0 ATS in its last six neutral site games.
* Under is 15-6 in Kentucky’s last 21 non-conference games.
* Under is 20-7 in Duke’s last 27 neutral site games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is siding with the defending champs in this early matchup of Top 5 teams, with 61 percent of ATS wagers on the Blue Devils. Total bets are almost split down the middle, with 51 percent of wagers on the under.
Kansas Jayhawks at Michigan State Spartans (+6, 149)
Game to be played at neutral site at United Center in Chicago, Illinois
Two of the most talented and experienced teams in the country meet in an early showdown when No. 13 Michigan State takes on fifth-ranked Kansas in the Champions Classic on Tuesday at the United Center in Chicago. The Spartans have nine of their top 11 scorers back while the Jayhawks return four starters; both had impressive routs in their openers.
Michigan State is likely to be without 6-9 junior Gavin Schilling (turf toe) for the second straight game, but the Spartans come in off an 82-55 win over Florida Atlantic last week. “If we improve on it, we’re gonna go there and compete and it’s gonna be a hell of a game,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo told reporters. “If we don’t improve on it, we’re gonna go there and get our butts kicked.” Kansas drained 15 shots from 3-point range – one shy of matching the school record – in a 109-72 victory over Northern Colorado on Friday. Sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham, however, told reporters on the next challenge, “That will be a real honest test for us going forward.”
TV: 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: The Jayhawks have opened as 6.5-point favorites and have been bet down to the current number of -6. The total has stayed put at its opening number of 149.
Kansas – F Cheick Diallo (out indefinitely, eligibility).
Michigan State – F Gavin Schilling (out Tuesday, toe), F Marvin Clark Jr. (out indefinitely, toe).
ABOUT KANSAS (1-0, 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U): The Jayhawks are awaiting final word from the NCAA on the eligibility of 6-9 freshman Cheick Diallo, but five players scored in double figures during the opener. Brannen Greene, who averaged 5.7 points in 2014-15, led everyone with 18 against Northern Colorado while last season’s top three scorers – Perry Ellis (16 points), Wayne Selden Jr. (15) and Frank Mason III (11 points, nine assists) – all shone. Graham could be the key after joining Mason in the starting backcourt and posting 13 points, eight assists and three steals.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (1-0, 1-0 ATS, 0-1 O/U): Deyonta Davis, a 6-10 forward/center, became the third Spartan to record a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks) in his career debut – matching Derrick Nix and Matt Steigenga. The Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year joins Matt Costello on the front line along with Javon Bess. Lourawls Nairn Jr. runs the show while Denzel Valentine, who had 13 points and nine assists in the opener, and Bryn Forbes – a career 41.4-percent 3-point shooter – give Michigan State plenty of weapons on the perimeter.
* Kansas is 4-1 ATS in its last five non-conference games.
* Michigan State is 6-1 ATS in its last seven non-conference games.
* Under is 6-1 in Kansas’ last seven neutral site games.
* Under is 8-3 in Michigan State’s last 11 games versus the Big 12.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is loving the Spartans, with 69 percent of ATS wagers on Michigan State. The consensus is also giving the edge to the over, with 58 percent of wagers backing it.