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UK and Michigan State Coaches Trade Barbs in Run-Up to Chicago Showdown

Andy Lyons, Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Based on all the analysis I’ve read, it’s entirely possible that the Kentucky Wildcats will open the season ranked #1 in the Associated Press college basketball poll. Well, that doesn’t matter to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.

On November 12th, the Spartans will take on the Wildcats as part of the Champions Classic in Chicago. The Spartans are a talented and veteran team coached by one of the best in the business. ‘Cat fans shouldn’t think for one second this game will even remotely resemble a pushover. Yes, Kentucky will be insanely talented. But they will also be incredibly young, playing only their third regular season game, and playing away from the comforts of home for the first time.

And Tom Izzo is ready to take full advantage. At Michigan State’s Midnight Madness event a couple of weeks ago, a student in attendance reported that the coach yelled the following: “We are working to kick Kentucky’s #$%!”

Word floated through cyberspace and landed in John Calipari’s ear.

Coach Cal’s response: “It’s not just Kentucky they want to beat, it’s you, because you got the scholarship offer they wanted.”

He expounded the following Monday at a meeting of the Greater Louisville Alumni Club.

By all accounts, John Calipari and Tom Izzo are friends but also very competitive. And Izzo loves to play Kentucky because of the respect he has for the program. This is all in good fun and in the spirit of competition. And the game should be a doozy. Since Izzo has been at Michigan State, the Spartans are 4-2 against Kentucky. But the average margin of victory for either team in that series is FOUR POINTS.

I can’t wait!

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