College Basketball Preview: 2018 Opening Day State Farm Classic Pins Duke vs Kentucky

Nick Woodhouse, Junior Analyst

Since its inaugural year in 2011, in which it was held in Madison Square Garden, the State Farm Champions Classic has stood as an exceptional tip-off to a new season of NCAA College Basketball. The four teams that are always involved in the Champions Classic are some of the more prestigious basketball teams in the nation: Michigan State, Kansas, Duke, and Kentucky. All known for having proven coaches, amazing recruiting classes, passionate fan bases, and a whole lot of god-given talent. This year the feature matchup: #2 Duke vs #4 Kentucky


Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Indiana)

When: 8:00 (Watch on ESPN)




Coached by one of the greats, coach Mike Krzyzewski “Coach K”, Duke is always a pre-season national title contender and usually is a frontrunner down the stretch of ACC Conference play. Duke rocks a 4-3 record all time in the State Farm Classic Champions and comes into the 2018 looking for two straight victories after defeating a stout Michigan State lineup the year before 88-81. The Blue Devils lost its whole starting lineup to the NBA Draft this year, without stars such as Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval, and Marvin Bagley who brought the Blue Devils deep into Big Dance {March Madness}. Although, you don’t have a typical Duke lineup without an all star list of Freshman studs in Durham. Duke has loads of them. High school phenoms none other than Cameron Reddish and JR Barrett were key commitments for the Blue Devils, and backed up by viral sensation Zion Williams from Spartanburg, SC whose preposterous high school dunks have earned him 1.8 million followers on Instagram. This is once again a Duke team that is force to be reckoned with in the ACC and on a nationwide scale.


Marvin Bagley (Duke) Wins the Tip against Jaren Jackson to kick of the 2017 State Farm Champions Classic (above)




Coming off another SEC championship title from a year ago, Coach Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats are the betting favorite in Vegas to win it all this season. Kentucky has an absolutely phenomenal recruiting class– a staple of a Calipari run system–the Wildcats enroll 4 five star recruits and a four star recruit.


“When looking at Coach Cal’s incoming 2018 class, it is clear that he once again was extremely successful,” according to an article on


Coach John Calipari discussing his 2018 recruiting class (Left)


Big names include a pair of Georgian 5 star forwards EJ Montgomery and Ashton Hagans alongside east coast Guards Immanuel Quickley & Keldon Johnson. The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off an impressive Sweet 16 appearance where they were eliminated by the fellow wildcats of Kansas State 61-58. That Kentucky team returns upperclassmen PJ Washington but they lost star Guard Shae-Gilgeous Alexander to the draft. With the SEC conference being up for grabs.. The Wildcats have a great shot at taking home a 5th straight conference championship and will have a great chance in the tourney in March.




Overall this will be a great battle of the two best recruiting classes entering the 2018-2019 season. Not only that, a Calipari-Coach K showdown is a big enough headline to draw in even the occasional college basketball fan. Overall, it should be another fantastic opening showdowns versus two major college basketball dynasties. Look for a high scoring, high flying dogfight with Duke’s advantage on the glass being the deciding factor.


Duke 76, Kentucky 71