North Carolina Tar Heels (8-2) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (8-2)
- Arena: United Center in Chicago, IL
- Game time: 5:15 pm EST on December 22, 2018 (or 30 minutes after conclusion of UCLA vs. Ohio State)
- TV Channel: CBS
- Announcers: Brad Nessler, Bill Raftery and Jamie Erdahl will have the call.
- Live Stream: You can watch the game online using CBS Sports and fuboTV.
- Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington. Listen to an online radio stream with UK Athletics.
- Replay: Check local listings on CBS Sports Network.
- Rosters: UK | UNC
- All-Time record: UNC leads the series 24-15, but Kentucky is 4-2 in the last six.
- UNC record last year: 26-11
- Head coach: Roy Williams
- Returning Players: UNC returns 3 starters and 8 reserves
- Last meeting: March 26, 2017 in the NCAA Memphis Regional Final, UNC won 75-73.
- Odds: North Carolina opened as a 4.5-point favorite, but the line has dropped to 2.5 in some sportsbooks. KenPom projected North Carolina to be a 4-point favorite. The Wildcats are 4-6 against the spread this season but have yet to be an underdog until now.
- Predictions: ESPN’s matchup predictor gives North Carolina a 70.2% chance to win. KenPom gives the Tar Heels a 64-percent chance of winning and projects an 86-82 loss for the Wildcats. TeamRankings projects an 83-80 UNC win, while numberFire is going with an 81-79 win for the Tar Heels. Be sure to check out our predictions for the game.
- Live Stats
While we wait for the game, check out the latest hype video from UK to get fired up for today’s clash:
The Kentucky Wildcats will have another opportunity to play on the national stage in a neutral site game when they meet the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon in Chicago.
Their first two attempts have not gone very well, and this will really be the second elite team that Kentucky has faced. There is no denying the history between these two programs, including their most recent match-up in the 2017 NCAA tournament in which the Wildcats lost on a last-second shot.
I know, I know, I apologize for even bringing that up, but it was relevant. But just think, there is no better way to continue to move past that game than to beat North Carolina in an important game for the Cats to show that they are for real.
This season, North Carolina has replaced two starters in Theo Pinson and Joel Berry. Typically UNC has a point guard that teams have to game plan for, but after losing Berry it was thought to be a weaker position for the Tar Heels in 2018-2019.
Freshman guard Coby White has had something to say about that. White has been extremely impressive through the first nine games of his college career, averaging 15.2 points in just 23 minutes a game and shooting over 40% from the field and behind the arc. White has scored over 10 points in all but two games this season, including a 30 point explosion against Texas.
White was ranked as a top 25 player coming out of high school, but has played above expectations to this point in the season. Saturday will present another opportunity for Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans to matchup against a talented scoring guard.
White has been a real bright spot for UNC, but along those same lines Seventh Woods has been almost equally disappointing. Woods struggled his freshman year and then injuries his sophomore year didn’t help him gain the experience that he needed. While Woods is a junior, the true freshman White has taken command of the offense.
Along with White, Roy Williams has brought in highly-touted freshman in Nassir Little, one of the bigger name prospects that Williams has landed in recent years. He won the MVP award of the McDonald's All-American Game and topped several recruiting lists in his senior season.
While Little may come off the bench due to so much depth at his position, he is a player to look out for on this team. Little is a big-time athlete with elite leaping ability and is the type of player that can change momentum in an instant with a big play. He is averaging 11 points and 4 rebounds a game in about 20 minutes per game.
Now let’s look at the returning starters for UNC this season.
Luke Maye is returning for his senior year and is coming off a very good junior year. Last season, Maye averaged a double-double with 16.9 points and 10 rebounds a game and shot 48% from the field. He continues to be one of the best players in the country this season by averaging another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds per contest.
Without bringing up Maye’s 2017 game winner over UK again, it goes without saying that containing Maye is of the utmost importance for the Cats. He will be one of, if not the best player on the floor for coach Williams and UNC and will be in contention for the national player of the year award.
Kenny Williams is also returning for his senior season and will be expected to do a lot of the outside shooting from the guard position for UNC. He is averaging just 7 points a game, but also is UNC’s best passer with 48 total assists on the season. Although known for his shooting, Williams is just 10-41 from behind the arc on the year.
Cameron Johnson is another returning senior for UNC. In the transfer’s first season in Chapel Hill, Johnson was plagued by injuries that kept him from entering the NBA Draft. Now healthy, he will be looking for a big year. You may remember Johnson from a few years back when Kentucky was a potential landing spot for him when he was in the process of transferring from Pittsburgh. Instead, he ended up in Chapel Hill and is averaging a team-high 16 points a game and shooting nearly 50% from the three-point line.
We all remember how the last UNC/UK meeting ended, so we don’t need to get into that any further. However, these two teams have had some instant classics over the years when they face off against each other, including the last time they met.
In 2011, with Kentucky ranked No. 1 and UNC ranked 5th, both teams put on a show in Rupp Arena. With the game on the line, UK All-American Anthony Davis came up with a game winning block to secure the 73-72 victory over the Tar Heels.
Anthony Davis with the game saving block against UNC (2011) pic.twitter.com/54gRhrZOCh— Classic KY (@KY_Clips) June 6, 2018
Another fun game to watch between these two teams was in 2016 when they met in the CBS Sports Classic in Vegas. Kentucky and North Carolina were both ranked in the top 10 and the game didn’t disappoint. Malik Monk put on a show as he went for 47 points in a game that came down to the very end and saw Kentucky take a 103-100 victory.
Both teams are extremely talented once again and the game should be exciting and fun for the fans to watch. Hopefully BBN will see the Cats earn another victory over the Tar Heels.