State Farm Champions Classic will open the 2018-19 season, to be played on Tuesday, Nov. 6, on ESPN, coinciding with the new start of the college basketball season as announced by the NCAA today. The 2018 Classic – a neutral site doubleheader – will once again feature Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State, with Michigan State facing Kansas, and Duke facing Kentucky. This year’s games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, with the 2019 Classic returning to Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“We feel that there is natural connection to the start of the season and to the State Farm Champions Classic,” said Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events. “These four schools have come together to help build an exciting stage to launch the college basketball season.”
John Calipari, Kentucky
“The Champions Classic has been the gold standard for college basketball’s regular-season events for the last seven years, but I love what we’re doing to use it to tip off the basketball season. What better thing for our sport than to begin the year with four of the most successful programs in college basketball. Now, it might not be the best thing for my team, but the good news is we’ll all be learning about our teams at the same time while taking this thing to the next level. I know our fans will turn Indianapolis blue next fall.”
Tom Izzo, Michigan State
“The Champions Classic has always served as the unofficial start to the college basketball season, so it only makes sense to move to the earlier date. Our four great programs, the capacity crowds and the media attention provide a spotlight on our game that’s much needed during an otherwise crowded time in the sports calendar. I can’t think of a better way to tip off the season.”
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
“It’s incredibly exciting that they’re going to start he basketball season on such a high note and on a different date. I think it’s such a great idea, and to have the Champions Classic on that date is an honor. It’s an honor for the four programs that will be participating. I’m anxious to do something for the first time, and I think it’s a positive step in the right direction for our sport.”
Bill Self, Kansas
“The Champions Classic generates a lot of interest and with the season moving up, this will be a great way to officially kick off the season. It won’t be easier for any of the four (teams) preparing for such tough competition before you’ve had a chance to watch your opponent play.”
- Millions of fans have tuned into the Champions Classic over the last seven years. The 2017 matchups delivered the event’s second highest viewership ever, behind the 2013 Classic.
- A combined 18 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship (since 1939): Kentucky (eight), Duke (five), Kansas (three) and Michigan State (two).
- A total of 56 NCAA Final Four appearances (since 1939): Kentucky (17), Duke (16), Kansas (14) and Michigan State (9).
- Since the Champions Classic began in 2011, all four teams have reached the NCAA Final Four at least once, with Kentucky and Duke winning national titles, in 2012 and 2015 respectively
- Over the last 14 games of the Classic, there have been 13 top-25 matchups, including two games featuring No. 1 vs. No. 2 (according to the AP poll)
- Four Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coaches in Calipari, Izzo, Krzyzewski and Self
- To date, the event has taken place in four cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis and New York
Media contact: Anna Negron at [email protected] or 860-256-1757; @Anna_ESPN