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State Farm Champions Classic: What bettors need to know

The State Farm Champions Classic features four teams that have been to the national title game in four of the last five years. Here's a look at the two marquee games going down in the Georgia Dome Tuesday night:

Michigan State Spartans vs. Kansas Jayhawks (-2.5, 129)


Michigan State coach Tom Izzo wasn’t pleased with his frontcourt after a surprising season-opening loss to rebuilding Connecticut.  He’ll need his post players to bounce back quickly given the 22nd-ranked Spartans’ next opponent.

Michigan State will face reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jeff Withey and 2011 national runner-up Kansas in the opening round of the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday in the Georgia Dome.

The Spartans failed to exploit an obvious mismatch against the inexperienced Huskies' frontcourt in a 66-62 loss in Germany. Seventh-ranked Kansas, meanwhile, opened with a 74-55 victory over Southeast Missouri State.

This is the ninth meeting between schools with a combined 22 Final Four appearances and five national championships. It’s the first since Michigan State knocked off Kansas in the 2009 NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal before losing to North Carolina in the final.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (0-1): Izzo’s teams always play a stiff non-conference schedule and usually improve as the season progresses. And Michigan State, which returns four of its top six scorers, has nowhere to go up but after a dismal showing against the Huskies in Germany. The Spartans fell behind 20-6 early, shot 37 percent and committed 15 turnovers while allowing Connecticut to shoot more than 46 percent. The front-court combination of Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix, charged with helping to replace All-American Draymond Green, combined for 12 points and seven turnovers. On a positive note, guard Branden Dawson, who tore his ACL last March, had 17 points and seven rebounds and point guard Keith Appling added 17.

ABOUT KANSAS (1-0):
Kansas is favored to win a ninth straight Big 12 title despite losing star forward Thomas Robinson to the NBA, and Withey’s presence is a big reason. The 7-footer has become the Jayhawks’ go-to player and he responded with 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks in the season-opening win. Withey is one of three returning starters who are joined by promising red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore (12 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and freshman Perry Ellis (15 points, eight rebounds). There’s plenty of room for improvement after Kansas shot only 38 percent against the Redhawks, including 2-of-21 from 3-point range. Point guard Elijah Johnson, the team’s leading returning scorer (10.2 points), played through foul trouble and finished with only four points on 1-of-5 shooting.

TRENDS:

* Spartans are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Spartans are 7-2 ATS in their last nine vs. Big 12.
* Jayhawks are 3-11 ATS in their last 14 vs. Big Ten.
* Over is 5-2-1 in Spartans last eight non-conference games.
* Under is 19-7 in Jayhawks last 26 non-conference games.

TIP INS:

1. “I just thought that Payne looked out of it and I think it was because he was trying to maybe do what (Draymond) did at that position and he can't,” Izzo told the Detroit News.

2. Withey set an NCAA Tournament record last season with 31 blocked shots in six games.

3. The State Farm Champions Classic features MSU, Kansas as well as Duke and Kentucky. Those four programs have a combined 17 NCAA titles between them.

Duke Blue Devils vs. Kentucky Wildcats (+3.5, 140)


While the college basketball season offers a feast of stellar games over the sum of its duration, there is already a tasty morsel on the plate. No. 9 Duke will tip off against third-ranked and defending national champion Kentucky on Tuesday during the Champions Classic in Atlanta.

The traditional powers were both successful in their season openers as the experienced Blue Devils cruised to a 74-55 triumph over Georgia State while the new-look Wildcats eked out a 72-59 win over Maryland.

Kentucky, which received two first-place votes in Monday's USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll, is adjusting after overhauling the majority of its roster following last season's national championship.

TV:
9:30 p.m. ET., ESPN

ABOUT DUKE (1-0): Mason Plumlee made his presence felt with 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots as the Blue Devils blasted the Panthers. Plumlee could wreak havoc on the boards against Kentucky, which was outrebounded by a 53-38 margin (28-13 on the offensive end) in its opener. Despite being hampered by a sore foot, fellow senior Seth Curry drilled a trio of 3-pointers en route to a 15-point performance. Duke erupted for 11 3-pointers in the season-opening victory.

ABOUT KENTUCKY (1-0): Nerlens Noel will be looked upon to soften the blow of the departure of Anthony Davis, who was the top overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft. Noel is hardly a scoring machine, but the 6-foot-10 freshman had nine rebounds and three blocked shots against Maryland. Jarrod Polson eclipsed his career total by scoring 10 points in the opener. Polson could see additional time with fellow guard Ryan Harrow still battling the flu. Harrow, who is a North Carolina State transfer, has been held out of practice since Friday's victory.

TRENDS:

* Blue Devils are 0-4 ATS in their last four vs. Southeastern.
* Wildcats are 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 vs. Atlantic Coast.
* Under is 4-1 in Blue Devils last five non-conference games.
* Over is 5-2 in Wildcats last seven non-conference games.

TIP-INS:

1. Sophomore power forward Kyle Wiltjer had a game-high 19 points and top-10 recruit Archie Goodwin added 16 in Kentucky's season-opening victory.

2. Duke guard Tyler Thornton picked up the surprise start in the opener and didn't disappoint. The junior drew rave reviews from coach Mike Krzyzewski following his 13-point, three-assist, two-steal performance.

3. Wildcats backup guard Julius Mays suffered an eye injury versus Maryland and is uncertain for Tuesday's game.

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