Champions Classic Tournament History
Established in 2011, the annual Champions Classic features four of the top college basketball programs that have each won a NCAAB National Championship. The games are normally played back-to-back at one of three venues in New York, Chicago or Indianapolis. However, due to COVID-19 concerns, Michigan State and Duke will play at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. ET. That will be followed by the Kentucky vs. Kansas clash with tipoff slated for 9:30 p.m. ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
No. 6 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 8 Michigan State Spartans
Duke (1-0) and Michigan State (2-0) are meeting in the Champions Classic for the fourth time. The Blue Devils won the previous three matchups. Duke is 6-3 all-time in this tournament and the Blue Devils are riding a three-game winning streak. Michigan State has a 3-6 record and the Spartans have lost four straight games. That includes a 88-81 loss to Duke during 2017 Champions Classic.
The Blue Devils opened their season with an 81-71 win at home over the Coppin State Eagles. Duke jumped out to a 45-28 lead at halftime but lost the second half by a 43-36 margin and failed to cover as -37.5 point favorites at DraftKings. Freshman led the way for Duke as forward Jalen Johnson scored 19 points and grabbed 19 rebounds while guard D.J. Steward led the team with 24 points.
Michigan State opened their season with a pair of wins at home. The Spartans defeated the Eastern Michigan Eagles 83-67 but failed to cover as -21.5 favorites. That was followed by an 80-70 win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with Michigan State barely covering as -9.5 point chalk. Junior forward Joey Hauser leads Michigan State with 25 points and 25 rebounds over two games.
Dating back to 2010, Duke owns a 9-1 record against Michigan State. The Blue Devils won the last meeting 87-75 on December 3, 2019, as visitors at the Breslin Events Center in East Lansing, MI. The Spartans lone win was a big one as they defeated Duke 68-67 to advance to Final Four during the 2019 March Madness tournament. Expecting a close contest - take the points and bet on the Spartans.
Pick: Michigan State Spartans (+4.5)
UPDATE: Line has now moved to Michigan State (+3.5)
No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks vs. No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky (1-1) and Kansas (1-1) are meeting in the Champions Classic for the fourth time with the Wildcats owning a 2-1 lead over the Jayhawks. Kentucky is 5-4 overall in this tournament and the Wildcats snapped a two-game losing steak with a 69-62 win over Michigan State last year. Kansas is 4-5 overall and the Jayhawks had a two-game winning streak until a 68-66 loss to Duke last year.
The Jayhawks opened their season with a 1-1 record. Kansas fell behind 54-46 in the first half and lost 102-90 to No. 1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off tournament. The Jayhawks rebounded with a 94-72 win over the Saint Joseph’s Hawks in the consolation game. Christian Braun (38 points) and Ochai Agbaji (35 points) are the leading scorers for Kansas.
Kentucky has played two home games and opened the season with a 1-1 record. In their season opener, the Jayhawks blasted Morehead State Eagles 81-45 and covered as -25 point favorites. In their second game, the Richmond Spiders upset Kentucky 76-64 as +7.5 point underdogs. Brandon Boston Jr. (35 points) and Terrence Clarke (27 points) are the Wildcats leading scorers through two games.
After losing three straight, by six points or less, Kentucky posted a 71-63 victory at home against Kansas last season. Prior to that contest, these teams alternated three-game winning streaks over the previous 12 meetings. While both teams lost key players during the offseason, Kansas is the more experienced team in this matchup. Lay the -3.5 point spread at DraftKings and bet on the Jayhawks.
Pick: Kansas Jayhawks (-3.5)
UPDATE: Line has now moved to Kansas (-5)
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