Who Can Take Advantage and Break the Tie?

The Michigan State Spartans and Kansas Jayhawks have played each other 14 times throughout their schools’ histories. Each side has won seven times. That means Tuesday’s season opener represents more than another college basketball season getting underway. 

While leading the all-time series against one another technically does not win you anything, bragging rights are on the line. And college teams love bragging rights!

The game is scheduled for 7 PM EST at Madison Square Garden in New York. Despite the rivalry between the teams and the fierce competitive nature that matchups bring between them, Michigan State will open up the season unranked for the first time in 10 years. On the other hand, Kansas checks in at No. 3 overall. 

While on paper, that may make it seem as if Kansas already has this game wrapped up, but Michigan State might feel disrespected and could be extremely motivated to prove the rankings wrong. If the Spartans can pull off the Opening Night victory, that would work wonders for their chances of success this year. 



“It does tick me off.” 

That is what Spartans head coach Tom Izzo had to say about his team being unranked to open the campaign. The last time they were unranked was the 2011-2012 campaign. Izzo’s Spartans were able to defy expectations that year as they went on to capture the Big 10 Title and were named the top seed heading into the NCAA basketball tournament. 

Last season also could be labeled as an outlier. The team dealt with various covid concerns and just never found any rhythm. However, they have a number of quality players returning for the upcoming season, and as long as health does not end up being an issue, we should see the Spartans playing competitive basketball in 2021-2022. 

Despite playing the role of an underdog entering Tuesday’s game, that is a spot the Spartans don’t mind being in. Michigan State is also 2-1 against Kansas in the Champions Classic. 

Expect them to come out on the attack and be aggressive early. As long as they don’t allow Kansas to go on any huge runs, the Spartans will be able to remain competitive in this game. 

The main injury that sticks out for Michigan State is that of guard Jason Whitens, who was recently diagnosed with a torn ACL and is expected to miss the entire season.


Kansas is a well-oiled machine entering the season. They are returning plenty of quality talent while they were also able to bring in a number of solid transfers and high-ranking recruits. One important note to make is that power forward Jalen Wilson is currently facing a suspension due to a DUI arrest. 

However, this is a unit that has plenty of depth and will be able to make up for players missing time as the season rolls along. 

The Jayhawks understand the assignment on Opening Night. They are aware that despite their opponent being unranked, it is a brand new year, and anything can happen. They need to simplify things and just play the patented Jayhawks brand of basketball. 

Expect Kansas to play fundamentally sound defense while scoring when they can. They will be patient and will certainly not panic if they fall behind early. This is a team that understands a full game of basketball is a marathon, so they will pace themselves and attack when the opportunity presents itself. 


The Jayhawks are 2-4 ATS over their last six games at a neutral site. They are 1-3 ATS in their last four contests. Kansas has only gone over the total once during their last five games. 

The Spartans were 9-18 ATS last season. Michigan State was 4-4 ATS when playing the role of 4.5 point underdogs last year. 

While this information is useful, we need to remember that this is a new and improved Michigan State Spartan team who has every intention of upsetting the odds.


According to Betonline, Kansas is a 4.5 point favorite in this one. They have the total set at 143. 

BetUS also has the Jayhawks as 4.5 point favorites and also sets the over/under at 143. They also have Kansas at a -180 moneyline while Michigan State checks in with a +160 moneyline

The Jayhawks are the clear-cut favorites in this game, but the Spartans are a team with upset potential. However, that will be easier said than done against this well-established Kansas squad.

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This is an exciting matchup. I would not be surprised to see this one be decided late in the fourth quarter or even in overtime. 

Kansas is the team to beat, and it seems likely that they will end up pulling out the victory. While some experts believe that they can cruise to the win, I think the Spartans will force them to give everything they have in this game. 

The Jayhawks are returning four players who averaged over 9 points last season. That means they have talented and experienced players, and chemistry will not be an issue. Oftentimes in college basketball, you will see teams fail to play well early on because rosters may be made up of various transfers and recruits. 

But this is a Kansas roster that knows how to not just play together but how to win together.


Echoing an earlier sentiment, I believe this matchup will be decided late in the ballgame. Look for Kansas to slow the game down and earn the victory despite a strong Michigan State effort.

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