Kansas vs. Michigan State: 5 Keys to the Game for the Jayhawks

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Kansas vs. Michigan State: 5 Keys to the Game for the Jayhawks
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Champions Classic name did not require explanation as the three-year series features four of the most successful basketball teams in the country, including the Kansas Jayhawks and Michigan State Spartans, two historic programs that will meet in Atlanta this week.

This will be the second game of the 2012-13 season for both KU and MSU, but there is one glaring difference in each team's opening box score, aside from the outcome: location. 

Tom Izzo led his team across the pond to face Connecticut at the United States Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, some 4,000 miles from East Lansing while Kansas trotted a mere 100 yards from the Jayhawk Towers over to Allen Fieldhouse to defeat an overmatched Southeast Missouri State team.

The level of competition from the Redhawks of SEMO is a far cry from Big East powerhouse UConn. While an early test typically produces future favorable results, the overwhelming difference in 9,000 air miles for Michigan State to only 1,300 for Kansas might be the biggest factor as the Spartans look to avoid an 0-2 start. 

Bill Self and his Jayhawks may have the travel edge, but a similar performance to that of their 74-55 win on Friday that included cold shooting, costly turnovers and poor ball movement inside will send them to 0-2 in the Champions Classic.

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