No sense easing into things. The 2018-19 college basketball season officially kicks off Tuesday night, and it does so with a matchup between two of college basketball’s premier powerhouses, as No. 1 Kansas takes on No. 10 Michigan State in the first of two Champions Classic games inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can still watch a live stream of the game (or DVR it) on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu also offers a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels, including all the ESPN channels. You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
If you can’t watch live, “Hulu with Live TV” also comes with 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage (with the ability to upgrade to “Enhanced Cloud DVR,” which gives you 200 hours of DVR space and the ability to fast forward through commercials).
ESPN and ESPN 2 are both included in the “Sling Orange” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
If you can’t watch live, you can get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage as an additional add-on.
Additionally, you can also watch a live stream of the game on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app. You’ll need to log in to a cable provider to watch this way, but if you don’t have that, you can still sign up for one of the above options and then use your Hulu or Sling TV credentials to sign in and watch on the ESPN digital platforms.
While Kentucky vs Duke is the Champions Classic matchup generating most of the hype due to a smattering of talented freshmen and future lottery picks, Kansas vs Michigan State will be much more focused on veteran stars.
For the Jayhawks, they may have lost a lot of production–Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman–from last year’s Final Four squad, but they still managed to earn the No. 1 overall preseason ranking due in large part to a trio of upper-classmen who will lead the way.
Junior center Udoka Azubuike, an absolute load on the interior, compiled a ruthlessly efficient 13.0 points (77.0 percent from the field), 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in just 23.6 minutes per game last year, while senior Lagerald Vick averaged 12.1 points and knocked down 1.5 threes per contest at a 37.3 percent clip.
The real intrigue, though, comes from transfer Dedric Lawson. He absolutely filled up the box score with Memphis two seasons ago to the tune of 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.1 blocks per game, and judging by his play during Kansas’ exhibition games (24.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6-of-8 from deep), he’s a legitimate National Player of the Year candidate.
“We know who three starters are for sure,” head coach Bill Self said. “We know that Doke (Azubuike), Dedric and Lagerald have separated themselves consistently into that role.”
The Jayhawks also bring in a pair of 5-star freshmen guards in Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson, who headline a recruiting class that ranks fifth in the nation. They were mostly quiet in Kansas’ exhibition games, but they should still nevertheless play an important early-season role as the team’s fourth and fifth offensive options.
Tom Izzo and Michigan State, meanwhile, will counter with its own group of vets.
The Spartans lost a pair of lottery picks in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges, but they return one of the nation’s most experienced backcourts with juniors Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford, while big man Nick Ward has the ability to put up monster numbers if he can stay on the court. Because he averaged a whopping 5.0 fouls per 40 minutes, he averaged just 18.9 minutes per game last year, but in that time he still managed to put up 12.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. He was also first in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage.
The Spartans’ freshman class, led by 4-stars Marcus Bingham Jr., Foster Loyer and Gabe Brown, is ranked 17th in the country, but Izzo doesn’t foresee a lot of early-season production from the newcomers.
“Winning will be a priority,” he said. “I’m not going to give them the experience unless it’s been earned. Right now, I might use some of those guys, but it might be in an ‘if we need them’ situation. Some of those guys might be so nervous they might kill the tuba player with the first shot.”