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CBS Sports Classic Preview

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This Weekend brings another huge event in College Basketball and another big time non-conference double-header, this time in Las Vegas. Similar to the State Farm Champions Classic with Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and Kentucky, we have the third annual installment of the CBS Sports Classic with Kentucky, UCLA, Ohio State, and North Carolina.

First of all kudos to Kentucky for signing on to being in two of these amazing events. The matchups this year are Ohio State-UCLA and Kentucky-North Carolina and of course both games will be seen on CBS.

Last Season:

#11 UNC beat #22 UCLA behind an unreal performance by Brice Johnson who scored 27 points on 11-12 shooting and grabbed 9 rebounds. After a 38-38 tie at halftime, the Tar Heels stormed to an 89-76 win making them the only 2-0 team in the CBS Sports Classic’s young history.

Unranked Ohio State stunned #4 Kentucky as the Buckeyes produced five players with nine points or better and knocked down 9-18 from behind the arc. Kentucky fought back from a 12 point halftime deficit to bring the game within three points at the four minute mark, but Ohio State made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

This Season, which completes the round-robin:

Game 1: Ohio State vs. #2 UCLA – 3:00pm ET – Is there anyway Ohio State can pull off a miracle two years in a row at this thing? NO! UCLA is in my opinion, the best team in the country. They have six guys that can score 10+ points each night and have Lonzo Ball. Ball might be the second best freshman in this year’s Classic, but he is also the second best player in the classic. Ohio State has a lot more experience than UCLA, which is why this is actually going to be a sensational game and way closer than you would expect. JaQuan Lyle guarding against Ball is the matchup to look out for but in the end, UCLA is too quick and athletic for Ohio State and win by 7-9.

Game 2: #7 North Carolina vs. #6 Kentucky – 5:45pm ET (approx) – The 38th meeting between 2 original Blue Bloods is going to be a dandy as Carolina tries to sweep the classic with wins over all three opponents in the first three years and Kentucky tries to avenge their loss from a year ago. These are two high-powered offenses, both in the top 11 in the nation in scoring. The Tar Heels had back-to-back close encounters at home against Davidson and Tennessee so you can bet they are going to come out firing in the first half. Kentucky hasn’t had a real test since they lost at home to UCLA and are playing their fourth game on a different neutral site already this season. Malik Monk is the best freshman in the country right, and maybe the best overall player. He can shoot the three ball and drive and dunk as well as anyone creating a mismatch against practically everyone who guards him, until this game. Justin Jackson and Joel Berry are both skilled enough to slow him down, especially Jackson, who if we (the fans) are lucky, will get a fair share of back-and-forth scoring with Monk. And don’t for one second forget about the other freshman guard for Kentucky De’Aaron Fox, who will be the guy setting the pace of this game when Kentucky has the ball. Fox has been sensational as an assist-man as well as a scorer and rebounder. And finally if you are looking for a good battle in the frontcourt, since this game has absolutely everything that an all-time classic matchup should, Kentucky’s Edrice Adebayo vs. Kennedy Meeks should be a fun one with a lot of fouls since neither shoots particularly well from the line. Let’s hope this game goes to overtime(s) so we can watch it all night long (if you are on the east coast). I think North Carolina wins by three or fewer.

Scott Zolotorow