The Champions Classic night cap at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night brings in a pair of the biggest fan bases in college basketball, as the Big Blue Mist of the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats faces the No. 9 Duke Blue Devils in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
UK went a completely unacceptable 9-16 last season, and if the coach was anyone but John Calipari he wouldn’t have made it past February in a state that demands SEC titles and Final Fours. The mostly one-and-done rosters are gone, but with 5-star freshman TyTy Washington likely heading to the NBA after this season. Oscar Tshiebwe transfers from West Virginia, CJ Fredrick comes from Iowa, and Kellen Grady of Davidson will all be options for Cal to use as he figures out his best five and rotations.
Duke has reloaded more than rebuilt for Mike Krzyzewski’s last season on the bench. This will be the Duke coach’s last game at MSG, a building where many “subway alumni” have come to watch the Blue Devils every season at least once. Freshman Paolo Banchero is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, and he joins Mark Williams in what should be a dynamic forward combo. Trevor Keels and Jeremy Roach will continue to hold down the guard positions, and the returning talent and practice time should be with the Durham team.
Here’s some data about both teams, and a pick for the game!
No. 10 Kentucky: (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Rankings from last season
No. 9 Duke: (0-0, 0-0 ACC)
Rankings from last season
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Spread: Duke -3
Moneyline: Kentucky +125, Duke -145
John Calipari is much more likely to still be tinkering with his lineup early in the season than Krzyzewski, who seems to plan out his rotations months if not years in advance. While UK might be the better side as the season continues, he’ll let his Wildcats play through it even if that means a loss now, because that might lead to more winning later.
Duke for now even laying the points, but we’d make this a pick ‘em in January.
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