Michigan State (0-0) vs Kansas (0-0)
When: Tuesday, November 6th 2018
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse,
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Kansas -5/154.5
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The Kansas Jayhawks have been tabbed as the No. 1 team in the nation heading into the 2018-19 College Basketball season and they will get tested right off the bat when they take on the 10th-ranked Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday night. This is the first of two games at the State Farm Champions Classic in Indianapolis with Kentucky and Duke playing in the nightcap. Both Michigan State and Kansas lot key players in the offseason, but have once again reloaded with lots of Blue-Chip talent. The Spartans lost NBA lottery picks Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. back, but have some experience coming back. Point guard Cassius Winston, the team’s leading returning scorer (12.6 points) and the Big Ten’s assist leader (6.9) returns along with forward Nick Ward, who averaged 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in 18.9 minutes as a sophomore. The Jayhawks return a monster in the paint in 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike (13 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks last season), who is also hard to stop when he has the ball. Kansas will also feature the debut of brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson, who are eligible to play after transferring from Memphis, where they averaged 19.2 and 12.3 points, respectively, in 2016-17.
Guard Joshua Langford also returns for Michigan State, who could be the key to the Spartans’ success come March. Langford, a junior, was the only Spartan to start every game last season, averaged 11.7 points, but was inconsistent with his shot and his scoring output. He opened the NCAA Tournament with a 22-point outburst on 7-of-10 shooting, then went 1-of-12 against the zone defense of Syracuse in a loss to the Orange. Winston led the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 49.7 percent last season.
Kansas coach Bill Self will be looking for a new point guard with the departure of the team’s leading scorer and assist man, Devonte’ Graham. He may decide to go with two guys at the beginning including highly regarded freshman Devon Dotson, a McDonald’s All-American, who averaged seven points and three assists in the team’s two exhibition games. Self will probably also use California transfer Charlie Moore, who led the Golden Bears in assists as a freshman. Azubuike led the country and set the Kansas and Big 12 single-season record for field goal percentage at 77.0 last season.
I think the departures of Bridges and Jackson will hurt this Michigan State team when going up against big time programs like Kansas – at least to start the season. The Spartans also seem to always get off to slow starts before Izzo has this team peaking come March. I like Kansas to win and cover in this opener.
Pick: Kansas -5.5
- Spartans are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Spartans are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games.
- Jayhawks are 8-17 ATS in their last 25 vs. Big Ten.
- Jayhawks are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 Tuesday games.
- Under is 4-1 in Spartans last 5 vs. Big 12.
- Under is 7-2 in Spartans last 9 overall.
- Over is 5-2 in Spartans last 7 non-conference games.
- Over is 4-0 in Jayhawks last 4 overall.
- Over is 4-0 in Jayhawks last 4 neutral site games.
- Over is 4-0 in Jayhawks last 4 non-conference games.
- Over is 4-1 in Jayhawks last 5 vs. Big Ten.
- Under is 21-9 in Jayhawks last 30 Tuesday games.
- Spartans are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings.