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Michigan State Opens as 2.5 Point Favorite Against Kentucky in Battle of AP #1 vs. #2

John Perrotto

by John Perrotto in College Basketball

Updated Apr 1, 2020 · 3:43 PM PDT

MSG hosts the Champions Classic
#1 Michigan State and #2 Kentucky do battle at the Champions Classic inside MSG on Tuesday, November 5th. Photo by Emmanuel Milou (Flickr).
  • The top two college basketball teams in the country face each other Tuesday night to open the season
  • Senior All-American guard Cassius Winston leads Michigan State as the favorite to win the national championship
  • Kentucky has four regulars, including stellar defensive guard Ashton Hagans, back from an Elite Eight team

The college basketball season starts with a bang Tuesday night when the top two teams in the Associated Press’ preseason poll, No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Kentucky, meet in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Michigan State received 60 of 65 first-place votes in the poll and Kentucky got two, one fewer than No. 3 Kansas. The Jayhawks and No. 4 Duke square off in the opener of the doubleheader at the “Mecca of College Basketball.

Michigan State opened as a 2.5-point favorite Sunday, though neither a moneyline or over/under was posted. Early action did not move the line as it remained at 2.5 as of 9:00 AM ET  on Monday. Here are the latest Michigan State vs. Kentucky odds.

#1 Michigan State vs. #2 Kentucky Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Michigan State -2.5 (-110) N/A N/A
Kentucky +2.5 (-110) N/A N/A

Odds taken Nov. 4.

Michigan State is National Title Favorite

Michigan State is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll for the first time in its history and tops the NCAA Championship odds.

The presence of All-American guard Cassius Winston gives coach Tom Izzo hope Sparty can go a step further than last season when it had a 32-7 record and went to the Final Four, where it lost to Texas Tech.

Winston passed on the opportunity to enter the NBA Draft and instead returns for his senior year after averaging  18.8 points and 7.5 assists a game last season when he was the Big Ten Player of the Year.

Winston seems posed for a big finale in East Lansing after reducing his body fat to six percent following a five-day-a-week weightlifting regimen during the summer. He is one of three returning starters with junior forward Xavier Tillman and sophomore forward Aaron Henry.

Experienced Roster is Rarity for Kentucky

Roster churn has long been a way of life at Kentucky as John Calipari has been the king of recruiting one-and-done players during his 11 seasons coaching the Wildcats. However, this season’s squad returns four regulars from a team that went 30-7 and reached the Elite Eight.

Kentucky’s top returnee is also its point guard.  Sophomore Ashton Hagans will lead the way after averaging 7.8 points and 4.3 assists a game in 2018-19 while being named the SEC’s co-Defensive Player of the Year. He decided to stay in Lexington for at least one more season, though three other freshmen entered the draft.


Junior Nick Richards (6’11) and sophomore EJ Montgomery (6’10) provide size and experience up front while sophomore shooting guard Immanuel Quickley will again pair with Hagans in the backcourt. Graduate transfer Nate Sestina could provide a boost as he averaged 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds last season for Bucknell.

Blue Bloods Share Little Recent History

The two perennial powers have met just twice in this decade, both in neutral-site games during November.

YouTube video

Kentucky rolled to a 69-48 victory in the most recent meeting on Nov. 15th, 2016 at Madison Square Garden, easily covering the six-point spread while the total went under 154. The teams pushed way back Nov. 12th, 2013 when Michigan State won 78-74 at the United Center in Chicago while going over 147.

Michigan State Guard Joshua Langford Sidelined

Michigan State shooting guard Joshua Langford is out until at least January. The senior has had a setback with a foot injury that limited to 13 games last season when he  averaged 15.0 points.


Spartans sophomore forward Thomas Kitnier will play despite a broken nose. He was injured when accidentally elbowed by a teammate during practice last week.

Line Appears to Be Spot On

College basketball does not generate as much interest earlier in the season due to the NFL, college football and NBA dominating sports betting landscape at this time of year. However, a match-up between the top two teams in the country figures to have more tickets written than the usual November game.

Early indications are that the line might not move much before tipoff as it held steady in the first hours after being initially posted. The oddsmakers appear spot on as the power ratings of both Team Rankings and USA’s Sagarin Ratings have Michigan State pegged to win the game by two points.

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