Andrew Wiggins, Niko Roberts

Picks Are In! CBT’s Champions Classic Predictions

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Kentucky Athletics

Today is Hoopsmas!

30 consecutive hours of basketball capped by the Champions Classic. It doesn’t get better than that.

You can read our full preview of the Champions Classic right here. This post isn’t about previewing. It’s about predicting. Each of our writers take a stab at who will win tonight’s matchups: No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 2 Michigan State and No. 4 Duke vs. No. 5 Kansas.

Rob Dauster:

  • Michigan State 75, Kentucky 71: I’m riding with Michigan State’s experience in this one. I love Gary Harris, I think Branden Dawson will be able to hold his own against Julius Randle, and I just have a feeling that the moment just might be too big for some of Kentucky’s youngsters.
  • Duke 81, Kansas 71: Duke can spread the floor out against Kansas the exact same way that Iowa State did last season, and if you remember, Iowa State nearly beat Kansas twice. The biggest difference? Iowa State was good, Duke is awesome.

source: APRaphielle Johnson:

  • Michigan State 78, Kentucky 74: At this point in the season I’ll take the “old” men, with the Spartans have a little more experience in games like this.
  • Kansas 86, Duke 79: Love Parker and Wiggins, but on this night I see Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden having big performances.

Scott Phillips:

  • Kentucky 73, Michigan State 67: With the way Julius Randle is playing at the moment, I just don’t see how Kentucky loses to Michigan State.
  • Duke 82, Kansas 74: Kansas has a ton of talent for a late season run, but Duke is meshing well early and their offense can really move the ball at times and play unselfish ball.

Kevin Doyle:

  • Michigan State 75, Kentucky 68: Kentucky is the most talented team in the country, but the youngsters need to get punched in the mouth once as a “welcome to college basketball” moment; Michigan State’s experience does that tonight.
  • Kansas 80, Duke 77: Naadir Tharpe’s return to the lineup makes Andrew Wiggins better and more comfortable in his second game.

Terrence Payne

  • Michigan State 75, Kentucky 70: Kentucky entered the season as the best team, but the Wildcats are running into a veteran Michigan State team. Also, let’s put a nice, quick end to the ‘is Kentucky going undefeated?’ storyline.
  • Duke 81, Kansas 72: Yes, the Jayhawks have Naadir Tharpe back. Yes, KU has the better frontline. But I’ll take the chance, and I’ll go with Duke and Jabari Parker back in his hometown.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.