In game #1 of the 2018 Champions Classic, we saw the Kansas Jayhawks hold off the Michigan State Spartans. The #1 Jayhawks led by 14 at halftime and led most of the game by double digits before a late surge by Michigan State, which cut the lead down to one possession game with less than a minute to go. Kansas showed why they are one of the top teams in the country as they controlled a game between top 10 teams as they dominated in the paint, made 3’s, and found a way to close out the game against a very persistent Michigan State squad. \
While the past couple of Kansas teams has been heavily guard dominated, this year’s version of the Jayhawks has the look of a more traditional Bill Self team in the 2018 Champions Classic. This will be even more evident when one of their talented young bigs, Silvio de Sousa becomes eligible.
Although they may not be as talented as they were a year ago, they are a classic Tom Izzo team. They are tough, competitive, and will get better over the course of the season. The late surge to make the game competitive showed they have the talent and will to compete with the country’s best. But much like many of the tough losses in the past, turnovers were the root source of some sloppy play that ultimately cost the Spartans the game. They will need to clean that up if they are to navigate the brutal non-conference slate.
Game #2 of the 2018 Champions Classic treated us to some big-time young talent. The top two 2018 recruiting classes squared off, and from the tip, it was all Duke. Headlined by 4 freshmen, and most likely the top 3 picks in next year’s NBA draft, the Blue Devils smashed Kentucky 118-84. Duke’s “Big 3” freshman- RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish combined to score 83 points. If you include the 4th member of the recruiting class, Tre Jones, the score would have been 89-84. The 118 points scored is the most a John Calipari team has ever given up and was his worst defeat as coach at Kentucky. It was surprising how well the Duke team played together considering how young they are and being together such a short time. Duke seems to have all the pieces to be really special- athletic, individual playmakers, competitive, and versatile.