CBB Plays 11/6/2018
It’s finally here! College hoops is back and tonight is opening night. Opening night brings us the Champions Classic with two really high level games between four of the best teams in the nation. First we get Michigan State vs Kansas followed by Duke vs Kentucky. Both games should be extremely fun to watch, especially with all the talented freshman to be featured. Obviously these are not the only games tonight, but they are the big ones. I will definitely be tuning in to BYU @ Nevada and Florida vs Florida State as well. With all this said, let’s get into the play(s) I like for tonight.
Kansas -6: The first play of the season will be Kansas -6. The number might still be 5.5 some places, but I have it at 6 so we’re going with that. Kansas takes on a Michigan State team who lost a lot of big pieces and while they are a preseason top 10 ranked team, I find them to be quite overrated. They lose Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr, both of which were lottery picks. They return everyone else for the most part, but Bridges and Jackson were hands down their two best players last season. Bridges for the last two years has been Michigan State’s go to guy on offense, so they now look for someone to replace him. Jackson did just about everything for this team, especially on the defensive end. I would expect they roll out a starting lineup of Cassius Winston, Josh Langford, Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins, and Nick Ward. Look, this lineup has plenty of experience and solid floor spacing. Ward has a strong post game. The thing is, they just do not match up well with Kansas, but the real big issue with this team and it was the same problem they had last year is turnovers. Cassius Winston is an awesome play maker, but he’s too careless with the ball and I’m not sure they really have another guy who can run their offense. Obviously, they may have fixed or improved on ball security in the offseason, but given the few roster changes I don’t expect this issue to be resolved. Now to the match up problem(s) with Kansas. First off, Kansas is insanely loaded this year and I would say this is Bill Self’s most talented roster he has ever had while coaching the Jayhawks. Kansas picked up two 5 star guards in Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson, but the biggest thing for Kansas was Udoka Azubuike deciding to return to school. They had a few transfers who had to sit out last year in Dedric Lawson, KJ Lawson, and Charlie Moore. All three should make huge impacts and Dedric Lawson has the potential to be a first team all Big 12 kind of guy. Kansas also gets Lagerald Vick back which is huge. I expect Kansas to roll out a starting 5 of Charlie Moore, Quentin Grimes, Lagerald Vick, Dedric Lawson, and Udoka Azubuike.
Here’s where Michigan State is going to struggle and why I think Kansas handles this game comfortably. Michigan State really has nobody to match up with Azubuike. Ward is a relatively undersized center and does not have the physicality to check Doke. After Ward, I’m not really sure who they would throw on him next. Goins maybe? That would not go well. Tom Izzo could try some zone who knows, but the problem with that is Kansas has plenty of shooters on the perimeter. Then you have Dedric Lawson who might be the biggest match up nightmare in the entire country. He’s a 6’9 forward, but has guard like skills with the ball and can take anyone off the dribble. Michigan State can try and throw someone on to match up size wise, but with Lawson’s guard skills he can take anyone his size off the dribble with his quickness. Throw a smaller guy on him and he’s going to work his post game. This Michigan State roster also seems to just lack elite athleticism in its starting lineup like it usually has. Kansas just has way to much of a match up advantage in the front court and I think we see Lawson/Azubuike both have great games here. I’m not trying to sell Kansas’s back court short either because they are phenomenal. Michigan State hangs in this game for about 30 minutes I’d say, but I think ultimately they just will not be able to match up down low with Kansas. They may try double teams, but again with the shooting KU has on the perimeter you can’t afford to double. Michigan State is a good team, but ultimately I think this KU team will be too much and the Jayhawks cover the 6 points.
Kansas is currently the only play I have for tonight. I feel really strong about them and don’t really like anything else enough to advocate playing them. If I find myself adding plays, I will tweet them out so follow my twitter @j_coop131. Let’s get the season started off right.