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Champions Classic in seventh year and here to stay forever

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Kansas center Udoka Azubuike dunks against Duke during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike dunks against Duke during the second half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

The Champions Classic, which celebrates its seventh season Tuesday at United Center in Chicago, serves college basketball well by putting the sport on people’s minds in mid-November with an annual doubleheader blockbuster on a Tuesday night, when MAC games are the only football competition. (Then again, MAC teams compete quite well, don't they?)

The Champions Classic serves all four basketball programs well by giving them exposure and in some cases filling coaches with no shortage of material to show players they aren’t quite ready for prime time.

Since it’s a huge plus for all four schools there is no reason to believe it won’t last forever, growing in stature through the decades, centuries and millennia.

Kansas ranks last in the Champions Classic standings with a 2-4 record, but the games haven’t necessarily been accurate predictors of NCAA tournament performance for the four schools. KU is the only school that has not either lost in the first round (Duke twice, Michigan State once) or failed to make the NCAA tournament field (Kentucky in 2013). All four schools have made it to the Final Four since the start of the doubleheader.

KU is 2-0 vs. Duke and 0-2 vs. Kentucky and Michigan State. The round-robin stays in turn every year, so Kansas always plays, in order, Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke.

In Tuesday's doubleheader, No. 1 Duke faces No. 2 Michigan State in the 6 p.m. tipoff and No. 4 Kansas faces No. 5 Kentucky in the night cap, optimistically scheduled for 8:30 but likely to tip at closer to 8:50.

A look at Champions Classic standings:

School
Hall of Fame coach
W L PF PA NCAA tournament record since CC started; best & worst finishes
Kentucky John Calipari
4 2 432 369 19-4, Best: NC in 2012; Worst: NIT in 2013
Duke Mike Krzyzewski
3 3 451 453 12-5, Best: NC in 2015; Worst: 1st-round L in 2012, 2014
Michigan State
Tom Izzo
3 3 412 435
12-6, Best: FF in 2015; Worst: 1st-round L in 2016
Kansas Bill Self
2 4 413 451 15-6, Best: NC runner-up in 2012; Worst: 2nd-round L in 2014, 2015

Comments

Daniel Kennamore 1 week ago

That 2-4 record by Self is ugly.

Hopefully it's 3-4 this time Wednesday.

Tom Keegan 1 week ago

On the flip side, Self only KU coach in history with winning record vs. Kentucky.

Suzi Marshall 6 days, 13 hours ago

In one year alone, last year, Self/KU beat every one of our Champions Classic rivals. Duke, UK, MSU.....bing, bang, bong.

John Strayer 1 week ago

That has been my complaint with KU in this Classic...KU isn't keeping up with it's peer group in this event.

Dave Miller 1 week ago

It would be nice to pick up a game or two on Kentucky this season and get a little closer to them in the all time wins category.

Cary Ediger 1 week ago

Who in the heck picked the KU colors for the graph ? They need to be fired.

Shannon Gustafson 1 week ago

All of the teams in the table are using their team colors. KU is crimson and blue so that's the colors in the table. With that said, they are a well known bad combination because they are hard to read.

Jay Hawk 6 days, 18 hours ago

The games vs Kentucky ended up appropriately as they had the better team both years we played them. Just like we were the better team the last two years when we beat them. It takes the sting off some when you know the better team won.

The two losses to MSU hurt though. For sure, we let one get away two years ago when Valentine went nuts yet we had the better team. You could also argue we were superior five years ago, too, as I think we let a decent sized lead slip away down the stretch.

However, it all feels a lot better beating Duke twice :)

A win tonight bunches everyone up within a game of each other and the standings will be a lot more palatable.

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