CHICAGO — Every year, Tom Izzo subjects his Michigan State team to a trying non-conference schedule. He might have outdone himself this time.
The No. 2 Spartans face top-ranked Kentucky and its latest freshmen phenoms tonight in the Champions Classic (7:30, ESPN, 1250-AM). It the earliest meeting of 1 vs. 2, and with No. 4 Duke playing fifth-ranked Kansas in the second game (about 10, ESPN, 1250-AM) this could be a sneak preview of the Final Four.
"I'm not sure I've been as excited about an opportunity such as this in a long, long time," Izzo said Monday.
The Spartans' non-conference schedule also includes Texas, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
The young Wildcats are even more impressive than the group that led Kentucky to the national title two years ago. Six were McDonald's All-Americans. All are considered potential lottery picks, with Julius Randle a possible overall No. 1.
But coach John Calipari is fretting about tonight.
"It's a hard game to play this early," he said. "Kansas is a good team; Duke is a good team; Michigan State — they're all good teams and they're well coached. This is not like you're going to steal, sneak by. You're going to have to ball.
"For us, it's just a bar of where we are right now. We've got a long way to go," Calipari said.
The second game is a chance to watch two other standout freshmen, Andrew Wiggins of Kansas and Jabari Parker of Duke.
no. 3 LOUISVILLE: Coach Rick Pitino reinstated suspended forward Chane Behanan and the junior will dress for tonight's game against Hofstra. Pitino announced Oct. 17 that Behanan was suspended indefinitely for violating school policy. "I had a target of 30 straight days of (Behanan) doing the right things and I didn't think he would ever do it, to be honest," Pitino said. "He had 30 great days, which surprised the heck out of me." Behanan is under disciplinary probation for the season.
no. 19 uconn 80, Yale 62: Shabazz Napier put up the 10th triple double in Huskies history with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and host UConn (2-0) pulled away. "My biggest thing is I want to be an all-around player," Napier said. "I want to help our team rebounding, and that's our blueprint right there." Amida Brimah, UConn's 7-foot freshman center, had seven blocks, giving him 10 in two games.
smu: Jalen Jones, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season as a sophomore, has received his release, the school confirmed. Coach Larry Brown said Jones was unrealistic in playing expectations.
Women: No. 1 UConn stops No. 3 Stanford
STORRS, Conn. — Bria Hartley had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help No. 1 Connecticut beat No. 3 Stanford 76-57.
Kiah Stokes added 10 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks for the Huskies (2-0), who got a scare early in the second half when preseason All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis went down trying for a rebound.
She landed awkwardly on her right arm and, as the arena went silent, screamed in pain for a few minutes before being helped to the locker room. Coach Geno Auriemma said Mosqueda-Lewis would be further evaluated today.
Hartley said she talked to her after the game and that she "seemed fine."
The injury didn't slow down the Huskies, who were in the middle of a 22-6 run that spanned the halves.
Morgan Tuck, her replacement, scored eight straight, including two 3-pointers, to make it 53-32 with 13:19 left. Stanford didn't get closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
Amber Orrange scored a career-high 22 points to lead the Cardinal (1-1).
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer remained five victories short of 900. She's trying to join Pat Summitt, Sylvia Hatchell, C. Vivian Stringer and Jody Conradt.
No. 5 Louisville 100, Quinnipiac 82: Sara Hammond had 20 points and 11 rebounds and the host Cardinals (2-0) forced 28 turnovers in a second-round game of the preseason WNIT. Hammond's energy on both ends of the court and 7-of-9 shooting helped the junior forward post a second consecutive double double. Louisville next faces No. 14 LSU on Thursday.
No. 6 Notre Dame 81, No. 19 Michigan St. 62: Jewell Loyd had 22 points and nine rebounds and the host Irish (2-0) routed the Spartans (0-1). Taya Reimer added 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Irish, who finished with a 52-29 rebound advantage. Becca Mills scored 15 for the Spartans.