What better way to kick off the 2016-17 college basketball season than with a top-25 matchup between two blue-blood programs. No. 11 Indiana takes on No. 3 Kansas in Honolulu, Hawai’i at the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday night as part of the Armed Forces Classic.
The Hoosiers and Jayhawks are two of the four teams playing in the annual event to honor America’s service men and women on Veteran’s Day. No. 12 Michigan State will take on No. 10 Arizona in the early game. This is the fifth edition of the Armed Forces Classic, but the first time it will feature two teams.
Indiana enters the 2016-17 season on the heels of a Big Ten regular season title and No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Hoosiers lost to eventual national runner-up North Carolina in the Sweet 16 after beating Chattanooga and Kentucky in the first two rounds.
Kansas is a 5-point betting favorite at CG Technology in Las Vegas and a 5.5-point favorite at offshore sports book BetOnline.ag. Indiana and Kansas have played 14 times, with the Hoosiers leading 7-6. They haven’t met since 1995.
The Hoosiers will wear commemorative jerseys to honor soldiers killed at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Indiana vs. Kansas college basketball game time, details
The Indiana vs. Kansas is set to begin at 9 p.m. ET, but that will almost certainly be pushed back because the Michigan State-Arizona game begins at 7 p.m. ET and will run at least two hours.
What TV channel is the Indiana vs. Kansas game on?
ESPN will carry the Armed Forces Classic. Find what TV channel ESPN is in your area here.
How can I watch Indiana vs. Kansas online?
If you subscribe to ESPN through your cable provider, you can watch the game on WatchESPN.com.
Indiana vs. Kansas: What to know in the college basketball opener
The Hoosiers bring back some serious talent, including sophomore center Thomas Bryant and sophomore forward OG Anunoby. They’ll miss Yogi Farrell, a point guard now with the Nets, but get back sharp-shooting guard James Blackmon, who missed last season with torn ACL.
Indiana is among the favorites to win the national title at 33-to-1. Its potent offense — 11th in points per game, third in field goal percentage and fifth in 3-point percentage nationally last season — will lead the way once again. The defense did take a big step forward in 2015-16, ranking 59th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com, after ranking 201st in 2014-15.
Topping Kansas will be a tough task, as always. The Jayhawks have won at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title in every year since 2005.
This year, Kansas returns guards Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham, but lacks a clear front court presence after losing big men Perry Ellis and Cheick Diallo.
The Jayhawks will get a big boost from freshman small forward Josh Jackson, the consensus No. 1 player in the loaded Class of 2016. He could be the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and NBADraft.net compares him to Andrew Wiggins and Tracy McGrady.
Jackson is a unique player. He’s a do-it-all wing who can score in a variety of ways and uses his length and athleticism to defend at a high level. But he’s also as charismatic an 18-year-old as there is in college basketball.
“He’s coming in here about as mature or as worldly as any kid we’ve ever had,” Kansas coach Bill Self told CBSSports.com. “He’s good at it, but it’s not fake. He naturally enjoys company but he also respects elders. He’s well beyond his years as a college freshman.”