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UNC basketball’s game against UCLA has been cancelled; Tar Heels will play Kentucky

Another one bites the dust.

Duke v North Carolina Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images

When UCLA’s game earlier this week got cancelled because Bruins head coach Mick Cronin and others in the program were in COVID-19 protocols, the wheels started turning that Carolina might not actually get to play UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic out in Las Vegas on Saturday. That seemed more likely yesterday when no one was saying UCLA wouldn’t play, but they weren’t exactly saying they WOULD play either.

The announcement came this morning that UCLA won’t be able to play on Saturday and the game has been cancelled. On the other side of CBS’ holiday programming, Ohio State was also forced to sit Saturday out with COVID issues of their own. Enter: the solution.

UNC will play Kentucky in what will now be the only game of the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday at 5:30. There was hope that they could wrangle two other teams together to make it a two-game show again, but UCLA’s delay in announcing they wouldn’t be playing meant the opportunity had passed.

The Tar Heels had to play Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic last year after their originally-scheduled game against Ohio State was cancelled because of COVID issues within the Buckeyes’ program. Seems to be a pattern here.

Clearly the universe demands Tar Heels vs Wildcats as their pre-Christmas viewing, and it has conspired to make it so two years in a row.

Kentucky comes into the game ranked 21st in the country with a 7-2 record. Their losses have bookended their season to this point, dropping their first game of the year to Duke and their most recent game to Notre Dame.

Every league seems to be right in the thick of the Omicron surge right now with games having to be cancelled or postponed left and right across the NBA, NCAA, and NHL. Several NFL teams are also experiencing large outbreaks of positive cases. Hopefully all goes well this weekend so the players can enjoy their Christmas COVID-free.