Plenty of Work Remains for Kansas and Kentucky to Reach Championship-Level Expectations

CHICAGO—The State Farm Champions Classic was born in 2011 with a simple premise: bring together four of the country’s most storied programs, which also happen to be modern-day powerhouses, for an early-season showcase. The classic, which includes Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky every year, is regularly expected to feature at least one Final Four team. At least one of the four has eventually gone onto the Final Four in four of the first six years of the Champions Classic, with three—Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State—making it in 2015.

This season’s Champions Classic was no different, with all four teams ranked among the top seven in the country, including the No. 1 (Duke) and No. 2 (Michigan State) teams. But as No. 4 Kansas and No. 7 Kentucky proved in their disjointed, sloppy game in the nightcap at the United Center on Tuesday night, it’s November for every team in the country no matter the expectations.

“The first game was much more artistic,” Bill Self said of Duke’s 88-81 win over Michigan State, comparing that to his team’s 65-61 triumph against Kentucky

Kansas got a significant win over non-conference foe. That was the big story of the night, and it could be again in March when both of these teams are presenting their tournament resumes to the selection committee. The secondary takeaway, however,

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