Kentucky vs. Michigan State Odds, Picks: Will Spartans Keep Game Close?

Kentucky vs. Michigan State Odds, Picks: Will Spartans Keep Game Close? article feature image

Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mady Sissoko (Michigan State)

Kentucky vs. Michigan State Odds

Tuesday, Nov. 15
7 p.m. ET
Kentucky Odds
-110o / -110u
Michigan State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The 12th edition of the Champions Classic kicks off on Tuesday night in Gainbridge Fieldhouse with the first game between Kentucky and Michigan State.

The Wildcats hold a 2-1 record over the Spartans in the Champions Classic, and while UK may be 1-2 in Champions Classic games played in Indianapolis, the Spartans have yet to record a win in their two attempts.

Michigan State comes into the game at 1-1 on the season, having lost to Gonzaga last Friday in the Armed Forces Classic. The Spartans led nearly the entire game that was played on an aircraft carrier, but could not hold off the Zags in the end, losing by just one point (64-63).

Meanwhile, Kentucky is 2-0 on the season, but has yet to truly be tested after posting wins over Howard and Duquesne in its first two games. The biggest question for Kentucky is who will be available for this Tuesday night affair against the Spartans.

Both teams have players on their rosters that are nursing injuries or have missed time for a number of reasons, but the 2022 National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe has yet to record a single minute this season for the Wildcats.

If he can't go on Tuesday night, does Kentucky stand a chance against the Spartans?

Kentucky Wildcats

Not having Daimion Collins or Tshiebwe for either of the first two games was less than ideal for the Wildcats.

Thankfully, the rest of the team has been able to hold its own against inferior competition. It's also presented the opportunity to see how other players adjust in more significant roles.

CJ Fredrick and Antonio Reeves have taken full advantage of that opportunity, establishing themselves as high-output scorers that are dangerous from beyond the arc.

It has been against inferior competition, but the two of them — along with Cason Wallace — are hitting 50% or better from beyond the arc.

And while Collins and Tshiebwe's status isn't fully known, the Wildcats do expect to have Sahvir Wheeler back.

Wheeler missed the first game of the season, but made his debut against Duquesne, recording 11 points, 11 assists and six rebounds while shooting better than 50%, both from the floor and beyond the arc.

Michigan State Spartans

First and foremost, I want to say: I don't think the Spartans' shooting numbers against Gonzaga are anything close to what this team is capable of.

Michigan State hit just 40% from the floor and an abysmal 18.8% from beyond the arc. That's largely due to playing outdoors on an air carrier.

What I did take away from the Spartans' matchup against Gonzaga is how physical this team is. That's something Kentucky hasn't dealt with, and I think that can play a huge role in this game.

The Michigan State defense was a serious problem for Gonzaga, giving the Bulldogs very few open looks and consistently forcing turnovers.

Like the Bulldogs, Kentucky is a very young team — even younger if it's without two of its best players. Slowing the game down will pay dividends for the Spartans.

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Kentucky vs. Michigan State Betting Pick

Per the Lexington Herald-Leader, John Calipari said Tshiebwe would be back at practice on Monday for the first time since last month. He also said that even if Oscar does return for the Michigan State game, it would be in a limited capacity.

Collins, meanwhile, is expected to be fully available Tuesday night.

So, the best case scenario for Kentucky is that both join a team that has played two games without them, and in all honestly, I don't think that helps the Wildcats much. It might even hurt them.

They're up against their first real competition of the season, and they're playing with a lineup that not only hasn't been able to practice together, but with Tshiebwe back, their roles change considerably from the first two games.

I expect the defensive pressure of Michigan State to be another issue for Kentucky.

The Wildcats have consistently struggled in the past in their first real test of a season after opening up with inferior opponents. Last year, after losing to Duke, they didn't play a single team ranked better than 125th (per KenPom) before they went to Notre Dame and lost.

That's why I'm backing the Spartans to — at the very least — keep this game close. I was able to grab Michigan State at +6.5 on Monday afternoon, but I feel comfortable backing the Spartans here at +5 or better.

Pick: Michigan State +5 or better

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