The top team in the preseason AP Top 25 receives an opportunity to flex its muscle on one of college basketball's top stages Tuesday night.
The No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks take on the No. 10 Michigan State Spartans in the first of two heavyweight clashes at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
Bill Self's Jayhawks boast a mixture of young talent and transfers ready to make their mark at one of the nation's top programs.
Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans are once again attempting to be the class of the Big Ten, and they'll try to do so with an experienced core of juniors.
As it usually does, the Champions Classic serves as an early test for both programs, who will try to use Tuesday's game as an early statement to the rest of the top teams in the nation.
Date: Tuesday, November 6
Start Time: 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Kansas Should Find Variety Of Ways To Beat Opponents
Kansas added talent to its roster in a few different fashions, as impact transfers and talented freshmen are expected to combine in the team's quest to win its 15th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title.
We'll see the mix of players right away Tuesday, as Memphis transfers Dedric and K.J. Lawson, California transfer Charlie Moore and freshmen Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes take the court.
If that wasn't enough talent to scare opponents, Lagerald Vick and Udoka Azubuike return to the Jayhawks as upperclassmen with invaluable experience.
How Self molds the Jayhawks lineup will be one of the most intriguing things to watch with the top-ranked team in the nation, especially early in the season.
With the talent on his roster, Self can allow his offense to build from the inside out, or bludgeon defenses with its shooting.
The presence of Azubuike down low allows Kansas to pound the ball inside, and if Dedric Lawson joins the crowd in the paint, opponents won't be able to stop both of them at once.
Dedric Lawson could also jump out to the perimeter to join Vick, Moore, Grimes and the rest of the Kansas guards.
During the 2016-17 season at Memphis, Dedric Lawson averaged 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field.
If he comes close to those numbers after a year off, he'll be one of the most impactful players in the nation, and he'll cause problems to even the most sound defensive teams, like Michigan State.
Vick, who averaged 12.1 points per game and shot 37.3 from three-point range in his junior season, will provide a nice complement to the transfer.
With that in mind, Kansas should send a small lineup out to the hardwood for long stretches before feeding Azubuike down low to throw off Michigan State's defense.
Michigan State Reliant On Junior Trio
Unlike some Michigan State teams of the past, the Spartans won't be able to go head-to-head with the nation's elite programs on pure talent alone, at least at the start of the campaign.
The junior trio of Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward will be vital for the Spartans, especially as some players get used to bigger roles.
Ward will be involved in one of the best individual matchups of the Champions Classic, as he'll go head-to-head with Azubuike.
It would be wise of the Spartans to feed their big man on the first few possessions in order to put Azubuike under duress and force him off the court with foul trouble.
If the best-case scenario occurs for the Spartans and Ward is able to dominate the frontcourt while keeping Azubuike off the hardwood, they could work their way inside and then set up open looks on the perimeter.
The Spartans possess plenty of firepower from three-point range in Winston, Langford and Matt McQuaid, who all shot over 39 percent from downtown a year ago.
The X-factor for Michigan State Tuesday night could be senior forward Kenny Goins, who will be relied upon to improve his career totals and be a difference-maker in the paint alongside Ward and sophomore Xavier Tillman.
If Goins, whose highest points per game total in a single season is 3.4, can put in significant contributions in the scoring and rebounding departments, the Spartans will have a chance to earn a quality victory on opening night.
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