Despite a bit of a bumpy start to the college basketball season, one of the sport’s premier early season showcases, the State Farm Champions Classic, is set to go this evening featuring No. 8 Michigan State and No. 6 Duke in the early game followed by No. 7 Kansas vs No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET.
College basketball prides itself upon these types of events, and this will be probably be the first opportunity for most SEC fans to see what Kentucky can bring to the table this season in what could be an early preview of the type of matchup we might see in March. Also, don’t forget that the new college football rankings will be revealed between the games tonight, so with that in mind, I’m officially declaring this evening as a “ball night”! Park yourself on the couch and get the Jiffy Pop ready. (Is that still a thing?)
Kentucky is currently at 1-1 having easily defeated Morehead State in their opening game but falling to the now No. 19 Richmond Spiders at home in a 76-64 loss on Sunday.
In case you missed it, this was no fluke. Richmond matched up well with the Wildcats and played with a lot more confidence as the better team (for the time being) pulled away in the second half. Kentucky showed their youth with 21 turnovers in addition to making only about a third of their shots. Most surprising was that they didn’t hit a three pointer in the game, going 0-for-10 from beyond the arc which is something almost unimaginable in today’s game.
Meanwhile, freshman guard Brandon Boston had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and big man Olivier Sarr added 17 points and 11 rebounds. These two mostly carried the team along with Terrence Clarke, but we will have to wait and see who else can step up on this squad made up mostly of freshman once again. What is undeniable is that the length and athleticism of this group is there to give opponents trouble on any given night.
As for Kansas, they are also 1-1 having lost their first game 102-90 to No. 1 Gonzaga. Like Kentucky, they are eagerly waiting to see who will emerge to become leaders on this team. However, they return some experience in guys like Christian Braun, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, and David McCormack who could be the advantage they need in this early season matchup. Also, keep an eye on 5-star guard Bryce Thompson tonight.
Kansas is the slight favorite tonight as the two meet in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
In the other game involving SEC teams tonight, UNLV takes on Alabama in the “Maui” Invitational from Asheville, North Carolina at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Unfortunately, Bill Walton will not be on the call for this one as he only calls the early day’s games. However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned as Bill calls the games from his socially distanced headquarters is that Hawaii is more of a state of mind rather than a physical location. May we all find our own beach someday like Bill.
Schedule for Tuesday, December 1
(All times Eastern)
No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks vs. No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats - 9:30 p.m. ESPN
UNLV Runnin’ Rebels vs. Alabama Crimson Tide – 9:30 p.m. ESPN2
Wednesday, December 2
Army Black Knights vs. Florida Gators – 2:30 p.m. ESPN2
Tarleton vs. Texas A&M Aggies 7:00 p.m. SEC Network
No. 21 Oregon Ducks vs. Missouri Tigers – 9:00 p.m. FS1
UT Arlington Mavericks vs. Arkansas Razorbacks 9:00 p.m. SEC Network