How Champions Classic Results Can Predict Outcomes for the Rest of the Season

    Tuesday marks the first day of college basketball games of the 2018-19 season. It's not just the end of a seven-month hiatus after last year's NCAA

    November 5, 2018

    Tuesday marks the first day of college basketball games of the 2018-19 season. It’s not just the end of a seven-month hiatus after last year’s NCAA tournament – it’s a night that features a loaded slate of games, and it’s one of the biggest days of the season.

    For the eighth year in a row, the Champions Classic featuring Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State kicks off the season with a high-profile doubleheader on a neutral floor.

    There will undoubtedly be hot takes and overreactions after Tuesday night given the one-game sample size, the talent level of the four schools and the Hall-of-Fame coaching on the sidelines. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasonable, big-picture takeaways we can find based on the seven-year history of the Champions Classic.

    We analyzed every Champions Classic matchup and college basketball season since the 2011-12 campaign for each of the four participating schools.

    Here’s what we found:

    • The teams that have won in the Champions Classic have averaged a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament
    • The teams that have lost in the Champions Classic have averaged a seed line of 3.7, not including Kentucky’s 2013 team that only qualified for the NIT
    • The worst seed earned by a team that has won in the Champions Classic is a No. 4 seed
    • The teams with the five worst NCAA tournament seeds of the 28 teams that have participated in the Champions Classic have all lost in the event
    • The teams that have won in the Champions Classic have averaged 30.5 wins per season
    • The teams that have lost in the Champions Classic have averaged 27.4 wins per season
    • Nine of the 14 teams that have won in the Champions Classic have advanced to the Elite Eight or better in that season’s NCAA tournament, compared to four of 14 that have lost in the Champions Classic
    • The most common NCAA tournament result among teams that have lost in the Champions Classic is a second-round exit, which has happened to five of the 14 teams that have lost in the event
    • Two teams that have won in the Champions Classic have gone on to win the national championship (Kentucky in 2012, Duke in 2015), while two teams that have lost in the event have been the national runner-up (Kansas in 2012, Kentucky in 2014)

    Here’s the full list of annual Champions Classic results.

    Year Result Winning Team’s Record Winning Team’s Seed Winning Team’s Tournament Finish Losing Team’s Record Losing Team’s Seed Losing Team’s Tournament Finish
    2017 Duke def. Michigan State 88-81 29-8 No. 2 Elite Eight 30-5 No. 3 Second round
    2017 Kansas def. Kentucky 65-61 31-8 No. 1 Final Four 26-11 No. 5 Sweet 16
    2016 Kentucky def. Michigan State 69-48 32-6 No. 2 Elite Eight 20-15 No. 9 Second round
    2016 Kansas def. Duke 77-75 31-5 No. 1 Elite Eight 28-9 No. 2 Second round
    2015 Kentucky def. Duke 74-63 27-9 No. 4 Second round 25-11 No. 4 Sweet 16
    2015 Michigan State def. Kansas 79-73 29-6 No. 2 First round 33-5 No. 1 Elite Eight
    2014 Duke def. Michigan State 81-71 35-4 No. 1 Won national championship 27-12 No. 7 Final Four
    2014 Kentucky def. Kansas 72-40 38-1 No. 1 Final Four 27-9 No. 2 Second round
    2013 Michigan State def. Kentucky 78-74 29-9 No. 4 Elite Eight 29-11 No. 8 Lost in national championship
    2013 Kansas def. Duke 94-83 25-10 No. 2 Second round 26-9 No. 3 Second round
    2012 Michigan State def. Kansas 67-64 27-9 No. 3 Sweet 16 31-6 No. 1 Sweet 16
    2012 Duke def. Kentucky 75-68 30-6 No. 2 Elite Eight 21-12 N/A N/A
    2011 Duke def. Michigan State 74-69 27-7 No. 2 Second round 29-8 No. 1 Sweet 16
    2011 Kentucky def. Kansas 75-65 38-2 No. 1 Won national championship 32-7 No. 2 Lost in national championship

     

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