NCAA basketball season officially got underway last week, but every year, the Champions Classic feels like the first real night of the year in college hoops.
This year is no exception, with the United Center in Chicago set to host two marquee matchups on Tuesday night: No. 9 Duke meets No. 18 Michigan State at 7 p.m. before the battle between No. 1 Kansas and No. 17 Kentucky tips off at 9:30 on ESPN.
Kansas is, as usual, a heavy favorite to win the Big 12, and the Jayhawks are also expected to contend for the national title after landing one of the top transfers in the country over the summer, former Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson. Kentucky’s preseason expectations (John Calipari’s team is to win the SEC) are modest — at least by Big Blue standards — after a 22-12 season that ended with the program’s second consecutive early exit from the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas is the “road” favorite in this neutral-site contest at , and the total is . Below is everything you need to know about Tuesday’s game, including our Kansas vs. Kentucky betting pick.
Here are our Kansas vs. Kentucky odds, picks, and predictions.
Kansas vs. Kentucky Odds: Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under
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Kansas Jayhawks (2-0, 2-0 ATS)
So far, Kansas has been as good as advertised, blowing out both NC Central and Manhattan by well over 30 points. It’s hard to glean much from wins against those teams, especially going into a game against a top-20 opponent, but Kansas’s 3-point shooting so far (13-of-23 from 3 against NC Central and 10-of-26 against Manhattan) has been impressive. Quality looks from outside will be much harder to come by against Kentucky, but it bodes well for the Jayhawks that they’re shooting the ball well from downtown to start the season.
Dickinson has been solid to start his Kansas tenure, with 21 points and eight rebounds against Central in 24 minutes and 18 points and eight boards in 20 minutes against Manhattan. All eyes will be on him on Tuesday night when he’ll have a golden opportunity for his first big game as a Jayhawk, as Kentucky is young and undermanned in the frontcourt. The Wildcats’ eight-man rotation to start the season features just three players 6-foot-8 or taller: freshman guard Justin Edwards, senior center Tre Mitchell, and reserve freshman forward Jordan Burks.
Kentucky Wildcats (2-0, 1-1 ATS)
Calipari had a ton of success leaning on true freshmen in 2011-12 (Anthony Davis led the Cats to the national title), 2014 (Julius Randle and Aaron and Andrew Harrison), and 2015 (Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns). But in recent years, he’s had much more experienced teams. He’s reverting back to a freshman-heavy approach this year, though. The starting five against Kansas will likely feature freshmen Rob Dillingham, Justin Edwards, and DJ Wagner alongside seniors Tre Mitchell and Antonio Reeves.
Through two games, Kentucky has shown it plans to take a ton of 3-pointers this year: the Wildcats had 29 3-point attempts in their opener and 23 in their second game of the season.
Kansas vs. Kentucky Prediction: Hunter Dickinson to Lead Jayhawks to Win, Cover
Expect this game to be close until the final minutes, because Kentucky has the talent to hang with Kansas. The questions are whether the Wildcats have enough size to limit Dickinson and enough experience to stay poised against such a deep, talented opponent this early in the season. Kentucky may have the pieces to compete with the best teams in the country later this season, but it’s too early to pick against Bill Self’s veteran Kansas squad, which is angry after the way last season ended, with an uncharacteristic early exit from the NCAA Tourney in a game Self missed while dealing with a health issue.
Kansas vs. Kentucky pick: Kansas (-5.5 at time of publishing)
How To Watch Kansas vs. Kentucky
- Date: Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023
- Tipoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
- Location: United Center — Chicago
- Where to Watch: ESPN