The No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks will play the Michigan State Spartans tonight in the State Farm Champions Classic. Michigan State enters with a record of 0-1 after losing to UCONN 66-62 last Friday.
This is the second of three years for the State Farm Champions Classic. Last year, Kansas played Kentucky in the inaugural Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. Next season, Kansas will play Duke in Chicago, Illinois at the United Center.
Michigan State is a member of the Big Ten Conference and finished 2nd in the conference last season. They are located in East Lansing, Michigan. Their overall record last season was 29-8 and they made it to the Sweet 16.
Without a doubt, Michigan State’s biggest player is junior guard Keith Appling. Appling is MSU’s leading returning scorer as he averaged 11.4 points per game last season. In the season opener against UCONN, he scored 17 points and led the team in scoring.
Other key Spartan players include senior center Derrick Nix and sophomore guard Branden Dawson. Both of these players came up big on the broads in the season opener with double-digits each. Nix had a team-high 11 rebounds while Dawson recorded a double-double with 10 rebounds and 15 points.
Freshman guard Gary Harris will be a new face on the Michigan State roster this season. In the season opener, he had double figures with 11 points. Besides his 11 points, his stat line was pretty modest.
This game will be the 10th meeting between Kansas and Michigan State and the Spartans lead the series 5-4.
Kansas last met the Spartans twice during the 2008-09 season. Michigan State won both match-ups in East Lansing and the 2009 NCAA Midwest Regional Sweet 16 in Indianapolis. That was the year MSU defeated Louisville to reach the Final Four.
Coming into the game against the Spartans, Kansas is 43-23 overall against ranked opponents, but are 33-13 in the last six seasons against ranked foes.
Overall, this will be Kansas’ first real test of the season. The outcome might be a little closer than the game last year against Kentucky, but these two teams could meet again in the National Tournament. It will also be interesting to see how Jeff Withey will performance against Kansas’ first ranked opponent this season.
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