Top teams at Champions Classic
College basketball is less than a week old, and we have a pair of marquee matchups early on.
The Champions Classic is a phenomenal event, featuring four perennial powerhouses. This season, it happens to be four of the nation's top five teams in the same arena on one night. WOW, it should be awesome, baby, with a capital A! All four coaches in this event have cut down the nets as national champions.
This will be a good way to find out how these teams have progressed early on. I am sure they will all have different looks by the time the big dance rolls around. I believe the coaches will be intrigued by seeing their respective teams challenged in this situation.
First, the top two teams in the preseason polls, Kentucky and Michigan State, will square off. It is a showdown of youth as the 'Cats have six McDonald's All-Americans, against the experience of the Spartans. I cannot wait to see Julius Randle and the Kentucky frontcourt face Adreian Payne and Michigan State.
Kentucky got off to a slow start in its opening win over UNC-Asheville, but was more impressive in beating Northern Kentucky. Randle posted a pair of double-doubles.
One thing is for sure, you will see great intensity in these two teams.
The second game pits Duke against Kansas and that will feature a pair of diaper dandies in the spotlight.
Both of these squads have depth and talent. The Blue Devils were sensational in beating a tough Davidson team in their opener. Rodney Hood, the transfer from Mississippi State, showed little rust from a year's layoff. He and Parker are going to be special all season.
Quinn Cook is one of the special ball handlers in America. He can flat-out distribute the rock and limits turnovers. Kansas will have Naadir Tharpe back from a one-game suspension; he sat out the opening win over Louisiana-Monroe.
Interesting to note that the Jayhawks went to the foul line as many times as they attempted field goals (43) in that victory.
The team that dominates the glass and shoots better on the foul line will have the advantage.
Coach K has an athletic team that will try to run. Duke lost Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry, but is ready for this test.
The Blue Devils beat Kentucky last season and Michigan State in 2011 at the Champions Classic. The win over the Spartans gave Mike Krzyzewski the record for Division I wins.
Can the Dukies make it a perfect 3-for-3?
This doubleheader is part of a marathon day of basketball on the Worldwide Leader. I cannot wait to sit courtside and call this game with my buddy, Dan Shulman. There will be electricity in the air, a Final Four environment during the first week of the campaign.
I cannot wait to see how these games unfold.
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