Top US NCAA teams clash in Champions Classic on ESPN5

November 13, 2017

by: JC Ansis


Two great basketball programs in the U.S. go head-to-head when the Duke Blue Devils take on the Michigan State Spartans at the State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago as the 2017-18 NCAA Division I basketball season tipped off its new season early this week.

The Duke-Michigan State tilt will be aired on ESPN5 on Wednesday LIVE at 8AM.

After getting upset by the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second round of last season’s NCAA tournament, the number one ranked Blue Devils look to get this brand new year off on the right foot.

Gone are Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum, Duke’s top two leading scorers last season, as the two were selected by the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics, respectively, in the recent NBA draft. But leading the charge for the Blue Devils is senior guard Grayson Allen. In Duke’s two wins so far, Allen has averaged 20 points on 58% shooting, including a 67% clip from beyond the arc.

Allen has shown much improvement on offense, but all eyes will be on his teammate, first-year forward Marvin Bagley III, who became the first Duke freshman to record a double-double in his first two college games. Allen and Bagley hope to make things interesting this season for Mike Krzyzewski, who recently won his 1000th game as head coach of Duke — the first coach in the Division I to accomplish that feat with one school.

On the other side of the court are the Michigan State Spartans, the second-best collegiate team in the U.S. according to the latest college rankings.

Miles Bridges, who was projected as a lottery pick had he declared for the NBA draft, will still spearhead the Spartan’s offense this year. In their win against North Florida, Bridges notched a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, on top of two assists and three blocks.

Against Duke, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo will rely on Bridges to produce the points, as well as forward Nick Ward, who posted 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds last season.

Both teams are undefeated so far, but after this game only one will continue their win streak. Can freshman hotshot Bagley and Allen power Duke to a 3-0 start or will Bridges and company get their second straight win?

Immediately following the Duke-Michigan State showdown, ESPN5 will bring you the second game of the doubleheader as the Kentucky Wildcats go up against the Kansas Jayhawks at 10:30 AM LIVE.

No. 4. Kansas hopes to build on the momentum from their previous game to notch their second victory of the season. In their blowout win against Tennessee State, Lagerald Vick paced the Jayhawks with 23 points, while Udoka Azubuike, who is predicted to make a huge leap this season, had a decent 13-point, 6-rebound effort.

Devonte’ Graham is once again expected to orchestrate Kansas’ offense after flirting with a triple-double (10 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds) in that game. The Jayhawks have lost to the Wildcats two times already in the Champions Classic and will need the three players to provide near-perfect games to try to turn their luck around this year.

Kentucky, meanwhile, will lean on Wenyen Gabriel — who is team’s leading offensive weapon after only averaging 4.6 points last season, freshmen Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo, and the coaching savvy of John Calipari to contain Kansas.

The Wildcats — ranked 5th overall — are 2-0 despite being a relatively young team as eight guys on their roster have never played a college game before. But will Kentucky’s inexperience work against them in their matchup with Kansas? We’ll find out Wednesday.

Catch Duke, Michigan State, Kansas, Kentucky and the rest of your favorite NCAA teams in action only on ESPN5.

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