Eight of the top 13 teams in college basketball will feature a series of marquee games of the Champions Classic and Jimmy V Men’s Classic for two nights in early December.
ESPN announced the details for the two non-conference events on Wednesday.
The State Farm Champions Classic takes place on December 1st. The No. 9 Duke will face the No. 13 Michigan State and No. 10 Kentucky against No. 6 Kansas. The Blue Devils will host the Spartans, while Kentucky and Kansas will play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Jimmy V Men’s Classic takes place on December 2nd, with Tennessee # 12 versus Gonzaga # 1 and Baylor # 2 versus Illinois # 8. Both games are played at Bankers Life.
“It’s great for college basketball after March Madness was missed,” said Baylor manager Scott Drew.
There won’t be fans at any of the games, but the coaches are just excited to get back into action.
“It’s great for the sport,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “We thought the best start to the season would be with the greatest possible success. If you limit yourself to just nine non-conference games, the chance of playing such high-profile games is probably not as great as it used to be. It gives the sport that much-needed attention. “
“I think it’s healthy for society, I think it’s healthy for sports fans, I think it’s healthy for the basketball game,” said Brad Underwood, Illinois coach. “What could be better than in the heart of America, in Indianapolis, with so many final fours and great venues. It’s a basketball country. You bring eight of the top teams, the history of the coaches, the history of the programs. You start your season really, you are presenting your season. I am delighted that we are part of it. “
The Jimmy V Women’s Classic takes place December 4th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut and features Louisville # 5 versus UConn # 3.
“ESPN Events is excited to offer these high-profile programs the opportunity to compete in the State Farm Champions Classic and Jimmy V Classic as we continue to navigate the unique circumstances of this season,” said Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events. “We look forward to making these events safe and developing the momentum for what will hopefully be an exciting college basketball season.”
The Champions Classic started in 2011 when Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State played against each other in a double header every fall. It was originally supposed to be held in Chicago but moved to Indianapolis due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the college basketball schedule.
“In the past when we opened the season with Michigan State, Duke or Kentucky, you had exhibition games and you had the opportunity to watch at least a little,” Self said. “It happens a week later. So when we go into that particular game it will probably be the best preparation we’ve ever had to play against each other.”
“The Champions has been a great start to the season for us for 10 years. It’s one of the highlights of my season,” said Tom Izzo, Michigan state coach. “I think it’s phenomenal. It’s a great way to start it … I’m just looking forward to it. And I’m looking forward to seeing some of these [other games].
“This night is going to be something everyone will look forward to.”
The Jimmy V Classic, named after legendary college basketball coach Jim Valvano, was founded in 1995 and brings money and attention to the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
“Jimmy V was a bucket list item for me,” said Drew. “It’s a great thing, a great event. To be in and play against an opponent like Illinois, these are games that your players look forward to, that the fans look forward to. I’m going back with coach Underwood; I have nothing but respect for the tremendous work he has done wherever he was and with all the uncertainty that all of our student athletes have had to contend with and have had the opportunity to compete against the best in the nation I really care. “”
“I think it’s good that we can play. Safety is the most important thing. But I can tell you our players want to play basketball,” said Rick Barnes, Tennessee coach. “It’s what they do, it’s what they want to do. So I’m excited for them, excited for us, excited for the basketball world. Last season ended so abruptly. There was no end. So just the fact that you can. ” Bring these teams together. I’ve never been crazy about preseason predictions, and with COVID you never know where teams will be. Everyone had to stop and leave a few times. But enthusiasm has priority above all. “
Schedule for these events:
Tuesday December 1st
# 13 Michigan State at # 9 Duke (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
# 10 Kentucky vs. # 6 Kansas (9:30 p.m., ESPN)
Wednesday December 2nd
(Jimmy V men’s classics)
# 12 Tennessee vs. # 1 Gonzaga (7pm, ESPN)
# 2 Baylor vs. # 8 Illinois (10 p.m., ESPN)
Friday 4th December
(Jimmy V Women’s Classic)
# 5 Louisville vs. No. 3 UConn (7 p.m., ESPN)