Champions Classic in seventh year and here to stay forever
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:
||Hall of Fame coach
||W||L||PF||PA||NCAA tournament record since CC started; best & worst finishes
||4||2||432||369||19-4, Best: NC in 2012; Worst: NIT in 2013
||3||3||451||453||12-5, Best: NC in 2015; Worst: 1st-round L in 2012, 2014
||12-6, Best: FF in 2015; Worst: 1st-round L in 2016
||2||4||413||451||15-6, Best: NC runner-up in 2012; Worst: 2nd-round L in 2014, 2015