What to watch for when Kansas opens the season against Michigan State in Champions Classic


AMES, IA – FEBRUARY 13: David McCormack #33 of the Kansas Jayhawks pulls in a rebound in the first half of play at Hilton Coliseum on February 13, 2021 in Ames, Iowa. The Kansas Jayhawks won 64-50 over the Iowa State Cyclones.(Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — College basketball is back in full effect.

The Kansas Jayhawks open the 2021-2022 season as the No. 3 team in the country and are set to face Michigan State in Madison Square Garden in the State Farm Champions Classic.

The contest will tip at 6 p.m. Tuesday and will be televised on ESPN.

Last season, the Jayhawks finished second in the Big 12 with a 21-9 record. Kansas is the preseason favorite in the Big 12 for the 19th time in the 26-year history of the conference.

The two teams sit at 7-7 in the all-time series entering the season-opener. The Jayhawks are 1-2 against the Spartans in Championship Classics.

Kansas has won three of the last four games in their series against Michigan State, including a win in March Madness in 2017. KU took the previous meeting, 92-87, in the 2018 Champions Classic in Indianapolis.

KU returns four starters and eight letter winners from last season. However, Jalen Wilson, one of the returning and leading rebounders from last season’s starters, will miss Tuesday’s game because of suspension.

With Kansas entering Tuesday night’s game as a slight favorite, Michigan State is 4-6 in the Champions Classic. The Spartans have lost four of their last five in the event despite defeating Duke last season.

Michigan State will welcome back nine letter-winners after finishing 15-13 last season.

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