College Basketball Tipoff – Champions Classic Duke vs Kentucky

The college basketball season tips off with a pair of Top-10 contests in the Champions Classic, and professional sports handicapper FairwayJay chips in some thoughts and picks

The hardwood is polished and ready and the blue bloods tipoff the college basketball season in style in a Champions Classic doubleheader in Indianapolis on ESPN. Tons of talent and betting should be brisk at the leading online sportsbooks as a pair of match-ups between Top-10 teams.

Tuesday, Nov. 6 – Bankers Life Field House in Indianapolis, Indiana

No. 10 Michigan State vs No. 1 Kansas -5.5 (156) – 7:00 ET
No. 4 Duke vs. No. 2 Kentucky -1.5 (157) – 9:30 ET

Duke vs. Kentucky

State Farm Champions Classic Duke Kentucky free pickKentucky has more experience, albeit mostly sophomores returning from last years team, and the deeper rotation. The Wildcats add senior graduate transfer Reid Travis (19 PPG, 8 RPG) from Stanford, a 2-time All Pac-12 player to join returning players point guard Quade Green, Nick Richards and PJ Washington, the team’s top returning scorer (11 PPG) up front. Five top freshman ready to contribute join coach John Calipari’s Wildcats with Keldon Johnson ready to start, and EJ Montgomery, who may have the highest ceiling.

Kentucky can roll out any type of lineup to create match-up problems and counter an opponents attack. Four bigs that can post up and punish opponents in the paint, or four guards. The depth and talent is abundant and Kentucky can play positionless basketball with good chemistry already shown during its trip to the Bahama’s.

But Duke is also loaded with talented players and future NBA picks. Duke has the No. 1 ranked recruiting class for 2018 and R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddis and Zion Williamson add more buzz to the Blue Devils, and two of them will start at forward while Barrett is a 6-7 left-handed shooting guard with a long wingspan that already showed off his scoring skills with 23 and 32 points in a pair of exhibition games. Another freshman, Tre Jones from the Minneapolis area, is the younger brother of Tyus Jones, the point guard on Duke’s 2015 national championship team.

TeamRankings projects a 79.5-78.4 victory for Kentucky.
numberFire projects a 74.9-74.5 win for Duke.
KenPom projects a 78-77 victory for the Blue Devils

We think the margin will be slightly more for the more experienced Kentucky Wildcats.

College Basketball Pick – Kentucky

Michigan State vs. Kansas

Kansas might become the best defensive team in the country, and the Jayhawks have inside-outside versatility. It has length and experience at every position. Michigan State has an edge at point guard with Cassius Winston, and if coach Tom Izzo elects patience and to run more sets on offense, then this tipoff in the Champions Classic likely has less scoring than expected.

College Basketball Pick - UNDER  

FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay