The third installment of the State Farm Champions Classic is Tuesday, with top-ranked Kentucky facing No. 2 Michigan State and No. 4 Duke meeting No. 5 Kansas on ESPN. Just how unique and special is this doubleheader at the United Center in Chicago? You tell us.
* According to ESPN research, it will be the first time that four top-five teams in The Associated Press poll will play in the same doubleheader at the same venue since the 2008 Final Four, when all four No. 1 seeds (Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA and Memphis) played in San Antonio.
* The Kentucky-Michigan State game is the first matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the AP Poll since Feb. 23, 2008 (Memphis vs. Tennessee).
* It will be the earliest matchup of the top two teams in college basketball history, besting the Indiana-UCLA game on Nov. 29, 1975.
* The two top-rated recruits in the ESPN 100 class will square off, with Kentucky’s Andrew Wiggins facing Duke’s Jabari Parker. Many predict they will be the first two players taken in June’s NBA Draft.
* In all, these schools combined to grab eight of the top 10 and 11 of the top 15 freshman recruits on the ESPN list. Kentucky’s haul, which includes No. 3 Julius Randle, No. 5 Andrew Harrison, No. 7 Dakari Johnson, No. 8 James Young, No. 9 Aaron Harrison, is widely considered the top recruiting class in history.
* The four coaches, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari of Kentucky, Bill Self of Kansas and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, have combined for 2,471 wins, 23 Final Four appearances and seven national championships.
Not a bad way to wrap up ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon on Tuesday, eh?