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Andy Katz, Correspondent | November 14, 2017

The Daily Word: Tuesday, Nov. 14

  Will the Duke-Michigan State showdown tonight be a preview of a potential title game in April?

What you need to know in college basketball for Tuesday, Nov. 14:

1. The Duke-Michigan State game at at the Champions Classic in Chicago is a national title potential preview. I know. Those of us in the media toss these projections around lightly. But it's rare where we can legitimately say two teams -- on the first Tuesday of competition in November -- could really meet in an NCAA Final Four or national title game. But these two fit the description. Each has a returning star in Miles Bridges for Michigan State and Grayson Allen for Duke. Each team has at least one stud in the freshmen class -- Jaren Jackson Jr. for Michigan State and I'll pick Marvin Bagley III for Duke. The Spartans have the experience. The Blue Devils more professional potential talent. Game on.

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2. Kansas-Kentucky at the Champions Classic in Chicago is hardly an undercard. The Jayhawks and Wildcats have played consistently whether it's in this event or in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. I don't care where, when or for what it means -- these two programs deliver when they meet. But please Kentucky fans don't fret if the Wildcats struggle against Kansas or don't get over excited if this turns into a significant win. Kentucky is a work in progress and is yes extremely young. Kansas has once again an experienced backcourt that will be tough to knock out. The intrigue will be inside -- where the unknowns still reside for both teams.

 3. Purdue at Marquette in the Gavitt Games could be a tremendous barometer for the Golden Eagles. Marquette is untested upfront. Purdue has size and options in this area. The Boilermakers have loads more experience and have been tested over the summer with their silver-medal finish in Taiwan at the World University Games. The Big Ten may reign supreme in this event over the Big East this week, but that's largely because of the returning talent. Providence missed an opportunity for a quality home win against Minnesota Monday night. Marquette needs to see if it can steal one tonight. 

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4. San Diego State at Arizona State is one of those sneaky good games that could prove to be a resume win come March. The Sun Devils are a sleeper pick in the Pac-12 under Bobby Hurley with the return of Tra Holder, Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice. The Aztecs should be in the thick of the Mountain West race in Brian Dutcher's first season as head coach after replacing his longtime mentor and friend Steve Fisher. San Diego State could use a quality early-season road win in what should be a rugged non-conference slate for the Aztecs. Seeing Nevada knock off Rhode Island Monday night is an indicator the Aztecs are in for a fight for the title. 

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5. Liberty at Wake Forest? Yes. The Demon Deacons desperately need to beat Liberty after losing at home to Georgia Southern to open the season. Coach Danny Manning has a major talent in Bryant Crawford to lean on this season and will need him to emerge as a star again. Manning said after the Georgia Southern loss that the Deacons must improve defensively. Well, Liberty will test them with its ability to make perimeter shots. The Flames won at VCU in an exhibition so the ability to knock off a perceived higher-level team is within reach. The two teams are on opposite sides of the Paradise Jam bracket later this week at Liberty so a meeting is unlikely. 

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