Champions Classic: Michigan State Opens Hoops Season As Underdog Vs. Kansas

Written By Drew Ellis on November 8, 2021

Michigan State is set to open up the 2021-22 college basketball season Tuesday night, and odds are the Spartans can’t afford to hold anything back in the opener against Kansas.

The Spartans are heading to Madison Square Garden to face the No. 3 Jayhawks at 7 p.m. ET as part of the State Farm Champions Classic.

Despite being unranked, oddsmakers expect this to be a competitive game. Can MSU pull off the season-opening upset?

Oddsmakers favor Kansas over Michigan State, but not by much

Michigan State comes into its opener as the underdog.

Oddsmakers, as of Monday midday, are viewing MSU as a 4.5 to 5-point underdog against Kansas on Tuesday night.

The moneyline for the Spartans in Michigan sports betting circles is ranging from +175 to +180 as of this writing. Kansas is getting odds of -220 to -225 against Michigan State as the favorite.

As of Monday midday, an over/under total is not yet available for the game.

These two teams haven’t met since 2018, but Kansas has won and covered the spread in three of the past four against the Spartans. The Jayhawks have also been the favorite in the past five matchups.

Last season, MSU was a struggling 9-19 against the spread, worst in the Big Ten Conference. The under hit in 17 out of 28 games.

Kansas was 14-14-1 against the spread in the 2020-21 season. Coincidentally, the over/under was also evenly split at 14-14-1.

How to watch: Kansas Jayhawks vs. Michigan State Spartans

  • What: Michigan State (0-0) vs. Kansas (0-0)
  • When: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021
  • Where: Madison Square Garden in New York
  • TV: ESPN (Announcers: Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Holly Rowe)
  • Online livestream: ESPN+
  • Radio: Michigan State Radio Network
  • Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 85 (MSU); Sirius Channel 84 (Kansas)

Spartans with a lot of new faces

Michigan State will be relying on a lot of new faces this season, which is why the Spartans are a bit of an unknown heading into the season.

MSU starts the season unranked for the first time since 2011, with large roster turnover transfers.

During the two exhibition games, the Spartans rolled out a starting lineup of Joey Hauser, Marcus Bingham Jr., Gabe Brown, Tyson Walker and Max Christie.

Walker is a transfer from Northeastern and a promising point guard who averaged 18.8 points and 4.8 assists last season. He had 10 points and 11 assists over the two exhibition wins.

Christie is a prized freshman, a 5-star recruit who scored 31 points over the two exhibition games.

MSU is likely to rely heavily on forwards Brown and Hauser as well. Both are veterans for MSU and have coach Tom Izzo’s trust.

Bingham is a 7-footer, but he hasn’t found much consistency on the floor. He’s only averaged 11 minutes per game the past two seasons.

Captain Malik Hall is also likely to be a big piece off the bench.

Jayhawks coming off early NCAA exit

The Jayhawks are coming off a 21-9 season in 2020-21 where they exited in the second round of the NCAA Tournament with an 85-51 loss to USC.

Bill Self enters his 19th season as head coach of Kansas this year and has a top-5 preseason ranking.

Kansas returns three double-figure scorers from last season, in Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack and Jalen Wilson. The trio combined for 39 points and 17 rebounds per game.

Wilson will be unavailable for Tuesday’s game as he serves a suspension for a DUI arrest in the offseason.

Kansas brings in another recruiting class that landed in ESPN’s top 10, and also has four incoming transfers.

Remy Martin, from Arizona State, was a bright light in an exhibition win over Emporia State with 15 points and four assists. Drake transfer Joseph Yesufu saw 20 minutes of action in the exhibition, as did freshman guard Bobby Pettiford.

Photo by Al Goldis/AP
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis has lived in Michigan his whole life, and has been writing professionally for the last 21 years. Ellis has covered anything from youth baseball in mid-Michigan, a top-25 college football program, and pro sports in the Detroit area. Always keeping busy, Ellis also has over 10 years of experience in covering sports betting, handling all major sports.

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