CHICAGO — It’s not a Final Four, but it certainly could be. Kentucky versus Michigan State, followed by Kansas versus Duke.
All four are part of college basketball’s elite, and all four will make up the quartet of teams playing in Tuesday night’s Champions Classic taking place at the United Center in Chicago.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time in 30 years that 4 of the top 5 college basketball teams in the AP poll will be playing on the same day in the same building during the regular season.
“Our players should be excited to play, but it’s just a step,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “A game in February deciding a conference championship, you’d have a whole different mind-set. You can’t make too big a deal out of it. No matter what happens, it’s so early.”
The matchup in the nightcap game means Self will be coaching against a basketball Hall of Famer in Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. At Duke, Coach K has won 4 national titles, coached dozens of All-Americans, and also as a head coach, helped the United States win two Olympic Gold Medals in men’s basketball.
This year’s Champions Classic is the 3rd in the series, which recently was renewed for another 3 years. The only school yet to win a game in the Champions Classic: Kansas.
“We’re the only team that has not won a game in the Champions Classic. We need to win this one,” KU coach Bill Self said.
Tuesday’s doubleheader begins at 6:30 p.m.