Michigan State (0-1) vs Kentucky (2-0)
When: Tuesday, November 15th 2016
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
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The Michigan State Spartans continue their tough early-season schedule with a battle against the Kentucky Wildcats in the Champions Classic from Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. The Spartans dropped their opener on Friday to 11th-ranked Arizona on Friday in the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu and now travel to New York to face second-ranked Kentucky. The Spartans blew an early 17-2 lead, committed 18 turnovers and lost on a shot with 1.3 seconds left against Arizona. Miles Bridges, a 6-7 guard, had 21 points and seven rebounds in a team-high 37 minutes, joining Joshua Langford, forward Nick Ward (nine points and four rebounds in 14 minutes) and freshman guard Cassius Winston (three assists in 10 minutes) in making their debuts for the Spartans. Sophomore forward Kenny Goins brought down eight rebounds in 26 minutes Friday after averaging 2.9 in 10.0 minutes as a freshman. Junior guard Tum Tum Nairn Jr., who led the Big Ten and was seventh in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio last season at 3.5, had four assists and four turnovers Friday. Michigan State will return home on Friday night to take on Mississippi Valley State.
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Kentucky is once again loaded with young talent including two potential one-and-done guys. Isaiah Briscoe wasn’t good enough for a one-and-done last year after averaging 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds as a freshman, but he’s uppded his game this season so far after averaging 19 points in the first two games. Kentucky eased into their season with a couple of lopsided victories over Stephen F. Austin and Canisius. Freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox scored 21 points Sunday and with 33 points and 15 assists in two games is off to a good start in what should be his only season with the Wildcats. Freshman guard Malik Monk, another one-and-done candidate, reached double figures in scoring in his first two games. Three Kentucky players: Fox, Monk and freshman forward Bam Adebayo (9.5 points, 6.0 rebounds), are among the 50 players on the Naismith Trophy watch list this year. Like Michigan State, Kentucky will also play Mississippi Valley State this week.
Michigan State is not used to having young talent all at once like Kentucky is and it might take them a while to get used to coach Tom Izzo’s system. Johns Calipari has been doing this a while now in Lexington and has a great group of young guns. This line is a little too high for an early season neutral-site game, so I’ll take the Spartans in this one.
Pick: Michigan State +7.5