The #3 Kansas Jayhawks (0-0) and the Michigan State Spartans (0-0) tip off the 2021-22 college basketball season with a showdown in the State Farm Classic on Tuesday night. The series is tied at 7-7 between these two basketball powerhouses, so the winner takes bragging rights with a victory.
Tuesday’s tipoff is at 7 p.m. EST inside Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. Kansas is a 4.5-point favorite, and the over-under total is 144 points.
What to Know – Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas took an early exit last season, losing to the USC Trojans in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks wrapped up the year with a 21-9 record and 12-6 mark in the Big 12 Conference. Head coach Bill Self overhauled the roster in the offseason and brought back four starters from last season’s squad.
In the frontcourt, the Jayhawks return senior forward David McCormack, who turned in a solid junior season to achieve All-Big 12 second-team honors. Jalen Wilson also returns for his sophomore season after testing the NBA Draft. Wilson averaged 11.8 points in his first entire season in Lawrence.
The most significant move in the offseason was the addition of Arizona State transfer Remy Martin. The super senior is a potential Big 12 Player of the Year candidate after averaging 19.1 points and 3.7 assists for the Sun Devils last year.
Senior guard Ochai Agbaji announced he’d return for his final season and bypass the NBA, solidifying KU’s backcourt. Agbaji paced Kansas in scoring last season, averaging 14.1 points per game.
What to Know – Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans produced a down year last season, losing to UCLA in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State finished with a 15-13 overall record and 9-11 mark in Big Ten play. Head coach Tom Izzo will have to replace over half his offensive production with crucial departures from last year’s team, including leading scorers Aaron Henry and Joshua Langford.
Michigan State brings back some experience in the frontcourt with senior Marcus Bingham Jr., junior Julius Marble II, and senior Joey Hauser ready to take the next step. Hauser is the team’s leading returning scorer, posting 9.7 points per game last season.
Junior Tyson Walker transferred in from Northeastern and is expected to be an instant contributor for the Spartans offensively. Walker averaged 18.8 points to go along with 4.8 assists and 2.4 steals as the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year last year.
The Spartans should also get production from freshman Max Christie. Christie was a McDonald’s All-American and will be an impact shooter for MSU.
The Pick is In
Kansas and Michigan State have provided us with some classic battles over the history of the series. Tuesday night should be no different as the two college basketball heavyweights battle in the season-opener.
The Jayhawks return a balanced roster with a ton of experience and should match up well against a rebuilt Spartan roster. If these two teams play later in the season, the outcome might be different, but we like Kansas to roll in the opener.
Betting Pick: Kansas Jayhawks -4.5