The four-team Champions Classic has been the marquee event of the college basketball regular season and, for that reason, Duke, Kentucky, Kansasand Michigan Statedidn't balk at renewing their deals for three more seasons through 2019.
The November doubleheader event began in 2011 and continues Nov. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York City with all four teams likely in the preseason AP top 10, including No. 1 Duke taking on Kansas and Kentucky playing Michigan State.
The future matchups are as follows: Kansas vs. Kentucky and Duke vs. Michigan State, Nov. 14, 2017 at the United Center in Chicago; Michigan State vs. Kansas and Duke vs. Kentucky, Nov. 13, 2018 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis; Kansas vs. Duke and Michigan State vs. Kentucky, Nov. 12, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
"It has become one of the premier college basketball events on the national schedule every year,'' Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "You're talking about four blue-blood programs playing on a neutral, NCAA tournament-like stage. I know our fans love traveling to those cities. It's always a tough way for a young team like ours to face those types of teams that early but it's a great opportunity for us to learn and to prepare for that type of environment down the road.''
The Duke-Kentucky game last season drew a 2.0 rating, the highest-rated regular-season game last season.
"The Champions Classic has become the signature event for the start of the college basketball season,'' Duke athletic director Kevin White said. "Duke is happy to be included in the continuation of the series and to stay linked with our championship colleagues from Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State.''
Michigan State will go from an Armed Forces Classic game to the Champions Classic for the third time since 2011. The Spartans have gone from San Diego where the Spartans played North Carolina on the USS Carl Vinson in 2011, traveling back from Germany after playing UConn at Ramstein Air Base in 2012 and this upcoming season the Spartans will go from Honolulu playing Arizona in the Armed Forces Classic to NYC for the Champions Classic.
"While head coaches may question their sanity about scheduling these games, I know that they love this event too, especially when you surround Kentucky with Arizona (in Hawaii) and Duke (ACC-Big Ten Challenge) and a trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis,'' Michigan State AD Mark Hollis said about the schedule facing coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans. "With the Champions Classic, the student-athlete wins and the fans win. It's an outstanding event.''
Kansas associate athletic director Larry Keating, who handles the Jayhawks' scheduling, was one of the early architects of the Champions Classic with ESPN programming director Nick Dawson.
"It's obviously the top event of the regular season,'' Keating said. "You usually have four of the top 10 and it should be that way again. No one has ever thought of not doing it. Everyone knows the value of it. The four fan bases can get to all cities where the event takes place. It has been everything we thought it would be and more.''
The Champions Classic was in New York City in 2011, Atlanta in 2012, Chicago in 2013 and 2015 and Indianapolis in 2014. Kentucky beat Duke 74-63 and Michigan State beat Kansas 79-73 last season in Chicago.
Champions Classic retains Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State through '19
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