The Kentucky basketball team will be looking at their first real test on Tuesday night when they take on the Michigan State Spartans in the Champions Classic. This will give the Big Blue Nation their first look at the Wildcats against top-tier talent. No offense Duquesne.
The Champions Classic has been a good measuring stick for the Cats in the past and should be no different this season. Michigan State has already been tested with their tough loss to a team Kentucky will play in a few short weeks, Gonzaga. Let’s take a peek at what the Spartans bring to the table.
It can be hard to judge what is legit or not when a college basketball game is played outside on a battleship. Nevertheless, to nobody’s surprise, Tom Izzo had Sparty ready to play and gave the number two team in the country, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, all they wanted and more.
The Bulldogs were taken to the wire, and it came down to the final shot that came up short for Michigan State, and Gonzaga escaped San Diego with the 64-63 victory on the USS Abraham Lincoln.
The Spartans have already proven they can hang with anyone in the country, and the Wildcats should expect zero intimidation when the two meet in Indianapolis.
There was no doubt that 6’9 Junior Mady Sissoko was the Spartans’ best player on the floor last Friday night. Sissoko finished the game with 14 pts and 9 rebs. If the Wildcats are with Oscar Tshiebwe Tuesday night, Freshman Ugonna Onyenso and the returning Daimion Collins may have their hands full with Sissoko.
Atrocious Three-Point Shooting
The glaring weakness of this Michigan State team after two games would be the inability to score from long distance. In the Spartans season-opening win over Northern Arizona, the team shot 8-30 from three.
While they shot just 26% from three in the opener, that number got even worse in the loss to Gonzaga. Sparty shot just 18% from three as they went 3-16. It’s not Cal’s favorite thing to do, but playing zone against a team dying for a bucket from distance may not be a bad idea.
The season is young, and the competition hasn’t been top-shelf, but the Wildcats have looked ahead of schedule in some facets of the game. Hopefully, we finally get a chance to see the team at full staff.
The Wildcats and Spartans will be game number one of the Champions Classic. A welcome sight for those of us who enjoy sleep. Tipoff is set for 7 pm EST. on Tuesday night. You can catch all the action of the Champions Classic on ESPN.