Each week, TheLines takes a glance at what will likely be some of the most watched and wagered-on sporting events. College basketball enters its second week and there are some monumental early-season matchups scheduled. The NFL will also play a Wednesday night game, with the Ravens and Steelers finally set to square off.
NCAAB: No. 13 Michigan State vs. No. 9 Duke – Tuesday
It’s bluebloods Tuesday in college basketball. Michigan State came out of the gates with a couple of comfortable wins and flashed moments of greatness, namely during a 26-0 run against Notre Dame. Their offense is getting by without Cassius Winston thanks to help from Foster Loyer and Joshua Langford. Duke won their season opener against Coppin State and is favored in this one by 3.5 points. As always, Coach K’s squad is packed with talent, including Jalen Johnson (19 points, 19 rebounds, four blocks in season opener).
NCAAB: No. 10 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Kansas – Tuesday
This year’s Champions Classic includes another pairing of college basketball’s elite in Kentucky vs. Kansas. In the nine years of the Champions Classic, Kentucky is 2-1 against Kansas. Kentucky is coming off a surprising loss to an inspired Richmond team, but don’t expect that to be a tone-setter for their season. Kansas is also 1-1, but their loss came in a season opener against No. 1 Gonzaga. The Jayhawks’ Marcus Garrett will need to step up against another young but athletic Kentucky roster led by Brandon Boston Jr.
Ravens vs. Steelers – Wednesday
This game was originally set to be played Thanksgiving night but it was pushed back three times, first to Sunday afternoon, then to Tuesday, and now to Wednesday due to COVID-19 concerns with each team. The Ravens will be without starting QB Lamar Jackson, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Baltimore was originally a 2.5-point underdog but the line is now Steelers (). Not only will Baltimore be missing Jackson, but they will also be without running backs Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins.
NCAAF: No. 12 Indiana vs. No. 16 Wisconsin – Saturday
With Ohio State’s Big Ten Championship Game eligibility in question, every game Indiana plays is of major significance. The Hoosiers are taking advantage of uncharacteristically bad years from Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State and could be looking at their first Big Ten Championship Game berth in program history. But the Hoosiers will have to do so without their leader, quarterback Michael Penix. Penix tore his ACL against Maryland and is done for the season. Redshirt sophomore Jack Tuttle will likely get the start against the Badgers. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is coming off a loss to Northwestern and are looking to get back on track. The Badgers are still one of the conference’s best teams and have the talent to play with anyone. A loss to either team in this one will effectively close the book on hopes of a Rose Bowl berth and a Big Ten title.
Boxing: Errol Spence vs. Danny Garcia – Saturday
After a few weeks without any title bouts, boxing is back with a fight for the welterweight title. Defending champion Errol Spence Jr. (26-0) has won via knockout in 80.7% of his fights (21 KO). He last entered the ring last September and has defeated previously unbeaten boxers in two of his last three bouts. Spence (-500) is favored to win this one. The challenger, Danny Garcia (36-2), is a more experienced boxer and is expected to be competitive in this one, but still sits as a +350 underdog. Since 2017, Garcia is 0-2 against boxers with two or less losses and 3-0 in all other bouts. This one takes place in Dallas, Texas.
Browns vs. Titans – Sunday
The Browns (8-3) are five games over .500 for the first time since 1994 and are now finding themselves comfortably in the playoff race. The Titans (8-3) just took control over the AFC South with a big win over the Colts. Eyes will be on this one because Cleveland has struggled this year in games against contenders, with their three losses coming against Pittsburgh (10-0), Baltimore (6-4), and Las Vegas (6-5). The Titans are () point home favorites and blew out the Browns in last year’s season opener. The game also has a lofty ()-point over/under.