What to watch when 4 of the top 7 teams clash Tuesday

by 6d ago
Lance King / Getty Images Sport / Getty

College basketball is finally underway, and the first big night of games goes down Tuesday as four of the top seven teams in the country will be in action.

The No. 1 Duke Blue Devils are going up against the second-ranked Michigan State Spartans. After that, the fourth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks will take on the No. 7 Kentucky Wildcats. Here's what to keep an eye on:

No. 1 Duke

Of the four teams playing tonight, Duke has easily the most highly touted prospect in Marvin Bagley III. The Blue Devils dominated their first two games of the year against the Utah Valley Wolverines and the Elon Phoenix, and Bagley was as advertised in those contests, averaging 24.5 points and 10 rebounds.

The Blue Devils will go as far as their freshman superstar will take them; however, Bagley will need the support of guard Grayson Allen, who's returning for his final year. Allen has chipped in with 20 points per game to open the season, and will be the team's emotional leader going forward.

College basketball is always unpredictable, but barring injuries, there's no reason Duke shouldn't end the year as the top-ranked team in the nation.

No. 2 Michigan State

Duke may have the best NBA prospect, but Michigan State may have the best player in the nation on its roster right now, as it looks to win its first national championship since 2000.

Sophomore guard Miles Bridges is ranked first on ESPN's list of the top 50 players this season. Bridges will be looking to improve on his 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds from last year, and is a national Player of the Year candidate who can overpower defenses while stretching the floor from three.

Meanwhile, freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. will add much-needed size to a roster that lacked a post presence last year. Sophomore big man Nick Ward should also be a big help around the basket.

No. 4 Kansas

It's always safe to assume Kansas will be a top team in the country, as head coach Bill Self brings consistency and culture to the program year after year. This season, he gets senior guard Devonte' Graham back for one final season.

Graham will finally get his chance to lead the Jayhawks. The roster around him is small but fast, and features plenty of older talent who can carry the team to prominence. Graham will look to improve on his 13.4 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game from last season.

Senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman also have a chance to shine this year, as they should stretch the floor and give Graham an opportunity to be a Player of the Year candidate.

No. 7 Kentucky

Once again, head coach John Calipari is overseeing a young championship-level roster in Kentucky. Hamidou Diallo - after withdrawing his name from the NBA draft - will get a chance to prove his worth as the Wildcats' leader this year.

Two games into the season, Diallo is averaging 17 points per game - both Kentucky victories. He'll get help from potential lottery pick Kevin Knox and freshman guard Quade Green, who should provide efficient three-point shooting.

The Wildcats haven't looked great so far, but coach Cal always has his roster ready in time for the NCAA tournament. By the end of the year, Kentucky could potentially add another five prospects into the NBA's talent pool. The school is just that good at recruiting.