NEW YORK — The 2019 Champions Classic is in the books — and the lower-ranked team/underdog actually ended up winning each game Tuesday night. I was at Madison Square Garden for the season-opening event. Matt Norlander sat right beside me. And after the games were over, we sat in Dressing Room 1 inside MSG to discuss what we saw.
The conversation went like this:
- OPEN: Michigan State received 62 of the 65 first-place votes in the preseason AP Top 25 poll and is the favorite to win the 2020 NCAA Tournament, according to oddsmakers. But the to No. 2 Kentucky. Did you see Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey? The freshman guard who has been great in neither practices nor exhibitions came off of UK’s bench and scored 26 points on just 12 field goal attempts. He was the best player on the court even though Michigan State’s Cassius Winston, the CBS Sports Preseason National Player of the Year, was also on the court.
- 18:00: Duke was the lowest-rated team in the Champions Classic for the first time in this event’s nine-year history. But the No. 4 Blue Devils still managed to secure a victory — specifically a 68-66 victory over No. 3 Kansas. The key stat from the game: KU committed 28 turnovers. So if you’re KU coach Bill Self, are you furious that your team committed 28 turnovers in a 40-minute game or pleased that your team still had a chance to beat Duke despite committing 28 turnovers in a 40-minute game? As for Duke, this team looks like it’s than most recent Duke teams. Everything starts with sophomore point guard Tre Jones. But the Blue Devils could have different leading scorers fairly regularly.
- 33:00: So who should be No. 1 now? Kentucky? Duke? Or somebody else?
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