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NCAAB: Duke vs. Michigan State Champions Classic preview

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

November 30th, 2020

The Champions Classic is set for its 10th year, and four powerhouse bluebloods will take the court to kick off the season in a pair of high-profile matchups.

Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, and Duke will still play a pair of games to begin the 2020 season, but in different venues because of COVID-19 restrictions.

In the first matchup of the Classic, Michigan State will head to Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina, for a contest against Duke.

Setting the table

Neither team has shown its full hand in the three games played between them this season. Michigan State is 2-0, Duke is 1-0, but neither has been pushed.

Duke, as usual, will showcase some new stars on the national stage. Freshman forward Jalen Johnson, a five-star recruit and a 6-foot-8 forward, will certainly be one to watch. He racked up 19 points and nine rebounds in his first game against Coppin State.

Duke is dominant

Duke has certainly had the upper hand over the years in the Champions Classic. Duke has the best record in the event, at 6-3. Against Michigan State, however, the Blue Devils are 3-0, and they have won eight of their last games overall against the Spartans.

Key to the game

While Michigan State has a more experienced roster, with a number of juniors and sophomore Rocket Watts leading the way, the Spartans will miss their former leader, point guard Cassius Winston, who is now with the Washington Wizards of the NBA. Winston averaged 18.6 points and 5.9 assists per game last season, and his loss will result in some growing pains.

Duke, meanwhile, is used to replacing talent and picking up where it left off. The Blue Devils have three five-star freshmen on the roster, and six players from the 2020 top 50 list.

One of them is guard Jeremy Roach, and he is the key to this game. If Roach is too talented for his backcourt counterparts on the Michigan State side, Duke’s other talented players will capitalize.

Pick: Duke


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