Kansas vs. Michigan State Odds, Picks, Predictions: Betting Guide to Tuesday’s Champions Classic Duel
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
- Kansas and Michigan State tip off the Champions Classic from Madison Square Garden.
- The Jayhawks will be without one of their top players in Jalen Wilson, who will miss the game due to a suspension.
- Shane McNichol breaks down the blue-blood matchup and offers up his best bet.
Kansas vs. Michigan State Odds
-105o / -115u
|Michigan State Odds|
-105o / -115u
The 2019-20 college basketball season unfolded differently than any other season we’ve ever seen. While COVID-19 is sure to continue to impact the 2020-21 season, things should settle into some sense of normalcy and look a little more like the college basketball we are used to seeing.
Schedules should stabilize, fans will be in attendance and the NCAA Tournament should be less impacted.
To start the season, the Champions Classic will once again be the most talked-about item on the early-season calendar.
That is inevitable when the four blue bloods who are connected to the event show up each year. No matter where each finds itself in the rankings, the aura around all four means there are endless storylines to dissect.
That’s certainly true of this year and this game. Tom Izzo and Bill Self both bring in teams capable of great seasons and deep runs in March, yet neither is without question marks.
Like two boxers feeling each other out in the first round, Tuesday’s meeting of the Jayhawks and Spartans will likely be more of a learning experience than a statement game.
Where does that leave the betting public? Let’s evaluate where each team is entering the season and which side should garner your bet Tuesday night.
Most of Self’s roster returns this year, and they’re likely upset with how last season ended.
The Jayhawks lost to USC in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, limping into postseason play while battling a COVID-19 outbreak on the roster.
Defensive stalwart Marcus Garrett is gone, but 71% of Kansas’ minutes are back this season (second-most in the Big 12).
Garrett is nominally replaced by Arizona State transfer Remy Martin. He was one of the premier targets in the transfer portal this offseason.
Martin’s addition to this Jayhawks’ roster makes for an interesting fit. He’s a lead guard, which last year’s Jayhawks needed desperately, yet he’s more of a score-first combo guard than a pure point guard.
Some of that disparity may have come from Martin’s time at Arizona State, where seemingly every Sun Devil was fighting with teammates over chances to shoot the ball. If Martin can stabilize into Self’s offensive scheme, he’s one of the best players in the Big 12.
Martin will be flanked by some familiar faces in Lawrence. David McCormack returns for another season in the paint. Ochai Agbaji looks to grow after a relatively disappointing 2020-21 — when his production stagnated instead of blossomed.
Two players have a chance to raise Kansas’ ceiling to championship contender status.
First, if Drake transfer Joseph Yesufu can be as useful for the Jayhawks as he was for the feisty Bulldogs last year, he can provide a real scoring pop off the bench. I’m skeptical that a player his size can have a major impact for a power conference program, though.
Finally, as Christian Braun begins his junior year, he has a chance to be the player who makes a leap and sparks something for Kansas. He grew into a much bigger role as a sophomore, taking more than twice as many field goal attempts than he did as a freshman.
His efficiency took a dip, especially beyond the arc.
If his game has developed to the point where he is as much a creator as a spot-up shooter, the Jayhawks’ offense will be much more difficult to defend. Playing next to Martin should ease that process for Braun.
If everything comes together, Kansas could be a Final Four and national title contender.
Last year proved to be one of the most challenging for Izzo in recent years. Sparty dropped eight of 10 games over a six-week period and snuck into the tournament as a participant in the First Four.
Michigan State sprouted a 14-point lead in that game, before crumbling in the second half and losing to eventual Final Four team UCLA. Had it been the Spartans who won that game and ran through the bracket, hopes would be much higher in East Lansing.
Instead, there are a lot of questions for a team without a proven star.
Disappointing homegrown product Rocket Watts is gone via transfer and leaves behind a roster of players that each have a wide variance of outcomes. Any of Joey Hauser, Gabe Brown or Malik Hall could make a leap and become a real difference-maker for Izzo, yet each is just as likely to struggle this season.
Two newcomers will dictate Michigan State’s positioning in a brutally tough Big Ten.
Tyson Walker transfers in from Northeastern. He was one of the best scorers on the East Coast, dropping 18.8 points per game on top of 4.8 assists. He’ll see a far lower usage rate and much tougher defenders in the Big Ten.
Freshman Max Christie is the real headliner. The Illinois native was the top-ranked shooting guard, per 247Sports. The five-star talent will be expected to be a major contributor right away, likely as one of the top scoring options for the Spartans.
His ability to translate to the college game right away is the biggest swing indicator for Tuesday night’s game.
Kansas vs. Michigan State Betting Pick
Kansas is a class above Michigan State. The Jayhawks have a better roster. There’s a reason Kansas is favored here. Yet at this point in the season, with both teams riddled with unknowns, I can’t advise laying points on a favorite.
That’s particularly true with Kansas missing starting forward Jalen Wilson, who will miss the game due to suspension following a DUI arrest.
In fact, as the Champions Classic has grown into the premier kick-off event of the college basketball season, we’ve seen that the oddsmakers aren’t in tune with the four invited teams each year.
In the last six years the event was played, there have been 11 teams favored (with one game listed as a pick ‘em). Those 11 favorites have covered just three times, with six of those favorites losing outright.
On opening night, with both teams settling into a new roster, ride this trend by taking Sparty and the points. If the Michigan State moneyline creeps up any closer to +200, that could make for a valuable bet as well.
Pick: Michigan State +4
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