The Kentucky Wildcats take on the Michigan State Spartans in the Champions Classic. Check out our college basketball odds series for our Kentucky Michigan State prediction and pick.

The college basketball season began on Monday, Nov. 7, but this game in many ways feels like the true start of the season, the first game of the familiar doubleheader involving UK, MSU, Kansas, and Duke. KU and Duke meet in the second game on Tuesday following this one.

The Kentucky Wildcats enter this season with a lot to prove. They were a No. 2 seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament and were a frontline contender for the national championship. They were placed in a good region. The high seeds in their region — the East — were not especially strong or healthy heading into March Madness. So many favorable elements were lining up for coach John Calipari, who has not been to the Final Four since 2015 and had expected finally return to college basketball’s biggest stage. Kentucky was favored to make the Final Four in 2019 as a No. 2 seed, but it suffered an upset loss to Auburn in the Elite Eight. That and a 2017 loss to North Carolina on a last-second shot by Luke Maye in the regional final are as close as Kentucky has come to the Final Four over the past seven years. Calipari hoped 2022 would be his big breakthrough.

Instead, Saint Peter’s happened.

The Peacocks flustered Kentucky and bothered the Wildcats in their halfcourt offensive sets. America got to see how sound the Saint Peter’s team was at the defensive end of the floor. The Peacocks combined their rugged defense with clutch shotmaking and stunned the world, knocking Kentucky out of the Big Dance in the first round, adding to the list of 15-over-2 upsets in America’s favorite bracketed tournament.

Oscar Tshiebwe was one of the best players in college basketball last season. He returns to UK intent on making the Final Four. His health status was in question the past few days, but late-breaking news from Tuesday morning has him probable to play, which is why Kentucky’s point spread and moneyline odds have improved in the past few hours before tipoff. Kentucky was -250 on the moneyline earlier on Tuesday. It is now -310 three hours before tip time.

Michigan State led Gonzaga by 12 points midway through the second half of Friday’s Armed Forces Classic, held aboard the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier docked in San Diego. The unusual conditions created an unusual game. One wonders how much we can truly take from the game, but MSU did let a golden opportunity slip away, losing to the Zags by one point, 64-63. This game is a mental test for MSU as much as anything else. Can this team turn the page and bounce back after a gut-wrenching loss?

Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the Kentucky-Michigan StateCollege Basketball odds.

College Basketball Odds: Kentucky-Michigan State Odds

Kentucky Wildcats: -7.5 (-106)

Michigan State Spartans: +7.5 (-114)

Over: 141.5 (-110)

Under: 141.5 (-110)

Why Kentucky Could Cover the Spread

The availability of Oscar Tshiebwe in this game is huge for Kentucky. The Wildcats definitely need him against Tom Izzo’s defense. This is the advantage they simply had to have … and they do have it. That’s massive.

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Why Michigan State Could Cover the Spread

We saw how competitive this team is at the defensive end of the floor. Gonzaga is going to score 80 or more points in a lot of its games this season. Holding the Zags to 64 is a simply phenomenal defensive performance. Tom Izzo has his team in a good place; this group will respond well on a mental level and play Kentucky hard.

Final Kentucky-Michigan State Prediction & Pick

Kentucky wins outright, but Michigan State’s defense keeps this game close.

Final Kentucky-Michigan State Prediction & Pick: Michigan State +7.5