Kansas vs. Michigan State Predictions: College Basketball Season Opens at MSG

Kansas vs. Michigan state prediction and pick for Tuesday's college basketball season opener. Mike Spector's pick for the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden
Mike Spector
Tue, November 9, 8:45 AM EST

Kansas vs. Michigan State Prediction: College Basketball Season Opens at MSG

Kansas vs. Michigan State

  • Point Spread: Kansas -4.5
  • Total: 143.5
  • Start Time: 7:00 PM ET
  • Venue: Madison Square Garden
  • Where to Watch: ESPN

Kansas vs. Michigan State odds

Kansas vs. Michigan State Prediction

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Michigan State Spartans Betting Preview: Kansas to Light Up Vulnerable Spartans Defense

The 2021-22 college basketball season kicks off in a major way with more than 100 Division I games to whet fans’ appetites. However, there are no two bigger games on the opening day slate than the two Champions Classic games at Madison Square Garden, featuring four of the sport’s most storied blue bloods. This article focuses on the first of those two games, as the No. 3 ranked Kansas Jayhawks take on the Michigan State Spartans.

Michigan State is unranked to start the season, as there is a lot of production to replace from last year’s squad. Two of their most significant holes are at point guard after the departure of Rocket Watts and at the center position. The latter is the bigger issue once they get into conference play, as the Big Ten is loaded with skilled big men at Illinois, Purdue, and Michigan. However, the point guard issue is the bigger problem at the beginning of the season, as the team will rely on Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker to run the show.

The Kansas Jayhawks also have a transfer at point guard in Arizona State’s Remy Martin. However, Martin is widely considered the best transfer addition by any school in the country, as he led the Sun Devils in scoring at 19.1 PPG last year. Martin joins a starting lineup with four stalwarts remaining from last year’s team, and all four players were among Kansas’ top five leading scorers. Thus, the Jayhawks have a significant edge for this season opener from a sheer returning production standpoint.

While we are tempted to lay the points with the favored Jayhawks, the better value lies with their team total, just in case their defense is not up to speed from the get-go. The Jayhawks did not get much production from their backcourt last year, but Remy Martin should remedy that in a big way. Head coach Bill Self could not have asked for a better playmaker, scorer, and distributor at the point guard position. Thus, Martin will help Kansas’ pick and roll game and will take defensive pressure off knockdown shooters like Christian Braun.

More importantly for Kansas’ team total, they face a Michigan State team that lost arguably their two best defenders from last year. Without question, Aaron Henry was their best overall defender, and Rocket Watts was a pesky on-ball defender capable of disrupting the other team’s point guard. We mentioned Michigan State’s issues in the frontcourt, and those problems will be exacerbated when Kansas’ David McCormack has his way with the thin-framed Marcus Bingham Jr. down low. McCormack was sensational down the stretch for Kansas last year, averaging close to 16 points and seven rebounds per game in their previous 12 games. Add in the fact that the Spartans have played at a quick pace under Tom Izzo for the last several years, and that will lead to more possessions and transition opportunities for the Jayhawks.

The over is 5-1-1 in Kansas’ last seven neutral site games and has cashed in four of their last five neutral site games as a favorite. These trends support the Jayhawks’ chances of a huge offensive day, and we like them to surpass their 73.5 point team total.

Kansas vs. Michigan State Pick

Mike Spector
MikeSpector01
Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest
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