Kentucky vs. Michigan State prediction and game preview. The Wildcats and Spartans face off in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Kentucky vs. Michigan State Game Preview
When: Tuesday, Nov. 15 – 7 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York.
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Kentucky and Michigan State met during the Champions Classic in 2013 when it was held in Chicago, with the No. 2 Spartans defeating the No. 1 Wildcats, 78-74, in a back-and-forth matchup. Michigan State ended up in the Elite Eight later that season, while Kentucky wound up playing in the national title game. It wouldn’t be surprising to see both of these teams make deep runs again this season.
Wildcats freshmen De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo are off to solid starts, and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges showed his athleticism in his first college game last week. The Spartans’ problem is that they’re going to need more players than Bridges to step up if they want to be successful against quality competition.
Kentucky Wins If …
… it doesn’t let Michigan State hang around. The Wildcats have the advantage at nearly every position and are going to try to blitz the Spartans with Fox’s blinding speed. He had 33 points and 15 assists in Kentucky’s first two games combined and is bringing back memories of John Wall. Michigan State will put Eron Harris on him, but he might not be enough to slow down Fox. Don’t forget about Isaiah Briscoe, either.
Adebayo is a beast down low, and if the Wildcats need to slow into the halfcourt, the Spartans might not have enough bodies to keep him out of the paint. Michigan State is missing big men Gavin Schilling and Ben Carter, leaving former walk-on Kenny Goings and freshman Nick Ward as its line of defense.
Michigan State Wins If …
… Bridges isn’t a one-man show. He scored 21 points in 37 minutes and mixed in a couple of highlight-reel dunks against Arizona, but he was the only Spartan in double figures, as they fell, 65-63, on a last-second layup. Michigan State is going to need Harris, Matt McQuaid and freshman Josh Langford to complement Bridges and put points on the board, because this isn’t going to be a grind-it-out battle.
The 32 percent from 3-point range against Arizona isn’t going to cut it, either. McQuaid is deadly when he’s on, but the Spartans aren’t nearly as good shooting the ball as last year’s team that led the nation in 3-point percentage. Given how small they are, the Spartans will need to be on from behind the arc.
Matchup To Watch
Fox vs. Harris
Bridges and Fox are two of the country’s most heralded freshman, but they likely won’t be matched up much given Michigan State’s lack of size. So it’s going to be up to Harris, who surprised coach Tom Izzo with his defense last year, to get in front of Fox and prevent him from breaking down the Spartans’ defense.
Spread: Kentucky -8
Kentucky vs. Michigan State Prediction
The Wildcats come out running, but the shots aren’t falling. The Spartans’ aren’t either, and Kentucky finds its groove. Michigan State consistently cuts the lead to within eight points, but the Wildcats keep their distance and put it out of reach at the free-throw line.
Kentucky vs. Michigan State final score prediction: Kentucky 81, Michigan State 74