The No. 1 Michigan State Spartans will look to stay on top when they open their regular season against the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats in the 2019 Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Spartans, who received 60 of 65 first-place votes and 1,619 points in the AP poll, were well ahead of the Wildcats, who received only two first-place votes. Tuesday’s game is slated to start at 9:30 p.m. ET. Kentucky leads the all-time series 13-11, although the teams have split the past 10 games. The Spartans are three-point favorites in the latest Michigan State vs. Kentucky odds, while the over-under is 140.5, up 2.5 from the opener. You’ll want to see what the SportsLine Projection Model’s college basketball predictions are saying about the game before making any Kentucky vs. Michigan State picks of your own.
This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, crushed its top-rated college basketball picks against the spread last season, going 211-176 while returning $1,740 to $100 players. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.
Now, the model has dialed in on Michigan State vs. Kentucky. We can tell you it’s leaning over, but it’s also generated an against the spread pick that hits in over 50 percent of simulations. That one is available exclusively at SportsLine.
The model knows the Spartans return three starters from last year’s team that reached the Final Four, the eighth time in 21 years they have accomplished that. Michigan State also captured a share of the Big Ten title and won the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans followed that up by defeating top-seeded Duke to win the East Regional. The Spartans return 63.6 percent of their scoring and 58 percent of their rebounding from a year ago.
Michigan State has had plenty of success in season-openers, going 94-26 all-time and winning 37 of its last 42. Coach Tom Izzo is 19-5 in season openers. Among those expected to make an impact this year is junior forward Xavier Tillman, the Big Ten Conference Sixth Man of the Year in 2018-19. He averaged 10 points and 7.3 rebounds last season. He scored 19 points in the Spartans’ exhibition win over Albion.
But just because the Spartans return a large portion of last season’s team does not guarantee they will cover the Kentucky vs. Michigan State spread on Tuesday.
That’s because Kentucky is also one of the nation’s top teams and the preseason favorite to win the SEC. The Wildcats are looking for their 10th win in 11 season-openers under coach John Calipari and hope to improve Kentucky’s record to 6-3 in games involving the AP’s No. 1 and 2 teams. A victory would also improve the Wildcats’ record to 5-4 in the Champions Classic.
Kentucky has plenty of young talent, including freshman forward Kahlil Whitney. He scored in double-figures in all 29 games of his senior season at Chicago’s Roselle Catholic and is on the Julius Erving Award preseason watch list. In Friday’s exhibition game against Kentucky State, Whitney scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds. The Wildcats are 7-0 against the spread in their last seven non-conference games.
So who wins Michigan State vs. Kentucky in the Champions Classic 2019? And which side of the spread can you bank on in over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Michigan State vs. Kentucky spread to jump on Tuesday, all from the advanced model that was up more than $1,700 on its college basketball picks last season, and find out.