Spartans Look to Avenge 2014 Loss

Tom Izzo vs. Bill Self; Big Ten vs. Big 12; Denzel Valentine vs. Perry Ellis. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The undefeated No. 13 Michigan State Spartans will face the undefeated No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday, in the State Farm Champions Classic at the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls. This early Top 15 clash is being heralded as the Final Four of November and the outcome will weigh heavy going into the regular season.

Both squads are looking for an early, exciting challenge after easily cruising to victory in their 2015 debuts. Michigan State crushed Florida Atlantic 82-55, while Kansas demolished Northern Colorado 109-72.

The Spartan Senior trio of Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes, and Matt Costello will have no room for error, as they take on a veteran trio consisting of Perry Ellis, Frank Mason III, and Wayne Selden Jr.

MSU made 48 percent of their shots from the floor, as well as nearly 39 percent from 3-point land. Costello led the Spartans with 15 points, followed by 13 points apiece for Valentine and hyped up Freshman Deyonta Davis. Valentine and Davis further contributed as Valentine recorded nine assists (only shot the ball 10 times). Meanwhile, Davis hauled in eight offensive rebounds to add to his 11 total rebounds.

On the other hand, Kansas as a team shot nearly 56 percent from the field and close to 58 percent from 3-point range. Surprisingly, it was backup Guard Brannen Greene who stole the show. He had a flawless shooting performance, making all six of his shots (five of five from beyond the arc). The dynamic trio of Ellis, Mason III, and Selden Jr. still finished with double-digit points and made a balanced impact in terms of rebounds and assists.

The key matchup to look out for is in the paint. With Spartan Forward Gavin Schilling out due to a turf toe injury, someone needs to step up and embrace his role alongside Costello in the interior. Look for  Davis and Colby Wollenman to be the main candidates, especially regarding Davis’s high expectations after his impressive debut.

Since 2003, Michigan State and Kansas have each split the four total meetings. They have met two times in the last three years, with the Spartans upsetting the No. 7 Jayhawks 67-64, in 2012. Kansas got the last laugh, however, by winning 61-56, in an offensive slugfest last season.

This upcoming showdown may play out much differently than their most recent matchup, regarding the enormous shooting depth and offensive talent that both teams severely lacked last year.

Tipoff is at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17 on ESPN.