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Week 2: BTP Game of the Week: Kentucky vs Michigan State

BTPowerhouse looks at the best games of the upcoming week in the Big Ten.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

While many of the matchups in the first few weeks of the college basketball season aren’t all that intriguing, with the increased number of conference challenges and neutral site games, the slate has improved significantly over the last few years. Those improvements haven’t left out the Big Ten either, which should have at least six of seven marquee matchups this week. It should be an exciting time for fans and provide a glimpse into what’s to come for much of the Big Ten.

And with that, let's take a look at the top games of the week.

Game Of The Week:

-Kentucky Wildcats vs. Michigan State Spartans

Although the Champions Classic has only been in existence since 2011, it’s already become one of college basketball’s best non-conference events and signals for what’s to come in a given season. The four teams involved (Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and Michigan State) have all performed well over the last few years and figure to keep that run going into the future.

While Michigan State is coming off a tight loss to Arizona on Friday, the team is more than capable of coming out with a win over Tuesday night. The key will be seeing more from a depleted frontcourt. Kenny Goins and Nick Ward were underwhelming against Arizona and will need to show more if the Spartans hope to take down Kentucky.

On the other side, not much has changed for Kentucky this season. The Wildcats remained ranked among the nation’s elite and get most of their production from a talented group of underclassmen, including De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. Kentucky is 2-0 after dominating wins over Stephen F. Austin and Canisius and will be looking to improve to 3-0 with a marquee win against Michigan State.

The matchup to watch in this game will be in the frontcourt. Michigan State is going to have to find a way to slow down Edrice Adebayo and Derek Willis on Tuesday night for the Spartans to come out on top and the pressure will be on Miles Bridges, Goins, and Ward to do just that. Perhaps the most interesting storyline will be seeing how Bridges performs for the Spartans against Kentucky, who he spurned during his recruitment.

Honorable Mention:

-Maryland Terrapins at Georgetown Hoyas

Maybe this game doesn’t look quite as good on paper as it did before Maryland’s underwhelming 62-56 home win over American on Friday, but it still figures to be a major matchup. The two teams faced off in a thriller last season where Maryland pulled out a 75-71 home win and will look to replicate that on Tuesday night.

The matchup to watch in this game will be in the backcourt between Maryland’s Anthony Cowan and Melo Trimble and Georgetown’s Jagan Mosely and LJ Peak. Both groups are immensely talented and should pose one of the bigger challenges this season for Maryland’s backcourt.

-Wisconsin Badgers at Creighton Blue Jays

Perhaps this game won’t raise the national profile of some of the Big Ten’s other matchups this week, but don’t overlook this game. Both teams are coming off pretty solid seasons and have more than enough talent to make an NCAA Tournament run. Plus, with the favorite (Wisconsin) on the road in a hostile environment, it could make for quite the thriller.

The key to this game will be what Wisconsin can do with Creighton’s dynamic duo of Marcus Foster and Maurice Watson. The two players dominate Creighton’s offense and Watson is also the team’s key offensive initiator. This will be a big opportunity for Bronson Koenig to show his defensive improvement.

Worst Game of the Week:

-McKendree Bearcats at Illinois Fighting Illini

It was a tough pick this week, but ultimately, Illinois’ matchup with McKendree warranted the honor of the Big Ten’s worst game of the week. There is nothing on the line for either team and Illinois will enter the matchup just looking to avoid a loss.

Not only is this an incredibly unappetizing matchup on its face, but it doesn’t even have the added aspect of scouting Illinois. That’s because the Illini have already played two lackluster opponents and won both games by double-digits. Fans aren’t going to learn much from this one.

Season Stats:

-Game of the Week Appearances By Team:

  • Michigan State - 1

-Game of the Week Honorable Mention Appearances By Team:

  • Maryland - 1
  • Wisconsin - 1

-Total Appearances By Team:

  • Maryland - 1
  • Michigan State - 1
  • Wisconsin - 1

-Worst Game Appearances By Team:

  • Illinois - 1