Bet: Michigan State +4 @ -110
The first game of the 2020 Champion’s Classic tips off from Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7:30pm tonight with Duke hosting the Michigan State Spartans. This clash of perennial National Title contenders features two top ten ranked teams getting their first true tests this season. Tom Izzo is a putrid 2-12 lifetime against Coach Krzyzewski straight up including a home loss last season in the Big Ten-ACC challenge. This time around, the one major advantage Izzo’s Spartans will have over the Blue Devils is that Michigan State returns far more players from last season’s roster than Coach K and Duke.
Duke has evolved into a “one-and-done” factory in recent years and lack of experience can certainly be a factor early in the season. The freshman duo of DJ Steward and Jalen Johnson were lights out against Coppin State last week, but Sparty will present a different challenge altogether. While Cassius Winston is gone, the 2020 version of Michigan State is loaded with talent to match the Blue Devils. Joshua Langford returns to the lineup after missing the better part of a year and half with multiple foot surgeries. Langford is a rare NCAA veteran in modern college hoops, who turns 24 in January. He joins Rocket Watts and Aaron Henry to provide the type of experience and leadership that simply doesn’t exist on the Duke roster. Marquette transfer Joey Hauser hasn’t had any trouble adapting to the Spartans lineup either, averaging a double-double in the first two Michigan State victories to open the season.
The Spartans are always tough defensively and I believe they can cause some turnover trouble for the young Blue Devils backcourt. Duke sophomore Matthew Hurt is a sharpshooter who could pose problems for Michigan State if he’s left along behind the arc, but I think Izzo’s squad has enough athletes to keep him from catching fire. In a game that promises to be tremendous matchup of potential Final Four teams just finding their footing, I’ll gladly take the 4 points with the more experienced team, especially when Duke’s home court advantage is essentially neutered with no Crazies allowed in Cameron for this one.