It’s funny that when the CBS Sports Classic was conceived the idea was that each team would continuously rotate with the others so that the squads would play each other the same number of times. It was a way for UNC and Kentucky to continue to play without each having to give up a home and home, plus it gave Ohio State and UCLA exposure to a national audience as well.
This season, though will mark the fourth time the Tar Heels and Wildcats have faced off in seven of these events. It’s just odd that when the event started and it seemed to be a rotation of UCLA, Ohio State, and Kentucky it’s now gone Kentucky, Ohio State, UCLA, Kentucky, Kentucky, Ohio State, and now...Kentucky.
The thing is, it is coincidence. The rotation would have put Carolina playing UCLA in 2018, however, the two schools also participated in the Las Vegas Invitational and did meet up on Black Friday that year, thus organizers switched their meeting to 2019. Then 2020 was the COVID one at the empty Cleveland arena where the matchups kept getting juggled around, and 2021 was the season where both Ohio State and UCLA couldn’t travel to the event.
So why are they playing again this year? Well, nothing was made official about it, but you can look at it logically: UCLA and Ohio State haven’t actually played each other since that 2020 event, and those two will both be in the Big 10 starting next season. So this way, the organizers are going to go ahead and let this be the last year the two can face off as non-conference foes, then wait to worry about how to handle it again in 2026. That’s the last year of the current agreement, where it’s possible that they’ll just repeat another matchup and then seek to replace one of the two Big 10 schools if it continues on.
Whatever the reason, the Tar Heels and Wildcats will square off today in Atlanta, The Wildcats have won three of the four meetings in this event, and have been off of for a week, while Carolina hasn't played since the Jimmy V Classic last Tuesday. It’ll be interesting to see if either squad has some rust or if the rest will create a classic like we saw in 2016.
If you won’t be in Atlanta today, here’s how you can catch the action:
- Time: Approximately 5:30 PM ET (Ohio State and UCLA square off first at 3 PM, UNC/UK follows)
- Location: State Farm Arena - Atlanta, GA
- TV: CBS-Brad Nessler, and Bill Raftery have the call with Jenny Dell on the sideline
- Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network with Jones Angell. Pete Chilcutt will be providing color as Eric Montross continues in his cancer fight. Here’s a list of affiliates airing the THSN broadcast. You can also listen to them on GoHeels.com, The Varsity Network, and TuneIn. On Sirius XM, the THSN broadcast will air on channel 193.
- Streaming: CBS.com with your cable provider, or Paramount + will have the event.
- Line: UNC -2 Per Draftkings.com