Kansas Jayhawks (1-0) vs Kentucky Wildcats (2-0) in 2017 Champions Classic
Location: United Center in Chicago, Illinois
When: Tuesday, Nov. 14
Start Time: 9:30 p.m.
TV: The game will be broadcast on ESPN with Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (analyst) and Maria Taylor (sideline) calling the action.
Online Stream: You can watch the game online and on mobile devices using WatchESPN.
Radio: Tom Leach (play-by-play) and Mike Pratt (analyst) will call the action on the UK Sports Network, which you can listen to on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington or online at UKAthletics.com.
Satellite Radio: XM 190
Odds: Kansas opened as a 2.5-point favorite. KenPom projected the game to be a pick ‘em and gives Kansas a 51% chance of winning. However, ESPN's Basketball Power Index gives Kansas a 69.8% chance of winning. The odds have since grown to Kansas being favored by 5.5 points.
Prediction: Kentucky has a world of potential, but they’re still far from reaching it, so go with the veteran-heavy Jayhawks to cover this spread.
While we wait for the game, enjoy some highlights of the last time these two met in the Champions Classic:
And here’s a little pregame hype video:
Kentucky is a rather imperfect 2-0 after getting some tough wins over Utah Valley and Vermont over the weekend, and now they’re onto the first big test of the year: The No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks.
Kansas is led by experienced upperclassmen, like senior guard Devonte Graham, who is regarded as one of the top 50 players in college basketball this year. Graham was one of the top players on Kansas’ Elite Eight team last season. They’re a legitimate Final Four contender and they’ll undoubtedly win yet another Big 12 title.
Kansas opened the 2017-18 season with a 92-56 win against Tennessee State on Nov. 10 in Allen Fieldhouse. Junior guard Lagerald Vick led Kansas with 23 points while Graham and freshman guard Marcus Garrett each recorded double-doubles.
Graham had 10 points and a career-high 12 assists, while in his college debut, Graham had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Senior wing Svi Mykhailiuk had 15 points.
Kentucky’s coming off a four-point win against Vermont, a team that probably doesn’t get enough credit for how good it is at first glance. Kentucky showed in that game that their glaring weaknesses is on-ball defense and defending the 3-pointer. They gave up 10 makes from deep, including seven in the second half, and Vermont shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the second half.
If Kentucky’s going to beat any of their good opponents (not just Kansas, but in this instance — Kansas), they’ve got to defend the 3-point shot better. Their poor shot defense was the backbone of Vermont’s comeback and Kansas will ether them if they let them get open shots.
Considering John Calipari didn’t expect to beat Vermont, I wouldn’t say this is a game Kentucky expects to win. And they’re not likely to win it either. If Kentucky meets Kansas in the tournament, it’ll be a different story, but this time around it’ll be a productive outing if Kentucky just competes.
- These are the top-two winningest programs in NCAA Division I college basketball with Kentucky first at 2,239 wins and Kansas second at 2,218 victories.
- The blue-blood programs have also combined for 31 Final Fours with Kentucky at 17 and Kansas at 14
- In the Champions Classic, Kentucky boasts the best record of all of the bluebloods in the event with a 4-2 mark, including victories in the last two games.
- Duke and Michigan State are tied with a 3-3 record and Kansas has a 2-4 mark.
- This will be the third meeting between the Wildcats and the Jayhawks in the Champions Classic but the first since UK throttled Kansas 72-40 in 2014 in Indianapolis. The Wildcats are 2-0 vs. the Jayhawks in the Champions Classic.
- Although UK has a 2-0 record vs. Kansas in the Champions Classic, the Jayhawks have won the last two meetings overall, having defeated Kentucky in back-to-back seasons in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
- Kentucky is 1-1 in the Champions Classic when the game is played in the United Center.
- Youth is being served for Kentucky, who has zero seniors and eight freshmen. Nearly 93 percent of last season’s scoring and almost 77 percent of the rebounding gone.
- The leading returner, Wenyen Gabriel, averaged just 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a year ago, and he’s been relatively quiet in the first two games this season.
- For another perspective, only Mississippi Valley State (386) and Pittsburgh (648) return fewer minutes from last season than the Wildcats (890), according to a recent survey sent to all Division I men’s basketball schools.
- Kansas senior guard Devonte Graham is the 2017-18 Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, as selected by the league coaches, while sophomore guard Malik Newman is the league’s preseason newcomer of the year. Graham was a preseason all-conference first-team selection.