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Kentucky now playing North Carolina in CBS Sports Classic

Kentucky was set to play UCLA while UNC played Ohio State.

North Carolina at Kentucky Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats just got a massive schedule change.

On Wednesday, the school announced that it will not face the UCLA Bruins in Saturday’s CBS Sports Classic.

Instead, the Cats will face the North Carolina Tar Heels. UCLA will now face the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The change is being made because the schools are trying to make the matchups between teams whose conferences have the same COVID-19 testing protocols

Kentucky last played North Carolina in the 2018 CBS Sports Classic, which saw the Cats pull off an upset over the third-ranked Tar Heels. The script will be similar this time around, as Kentucky is looking for its first signature win after struggling amid a 1-4 start. North Carolina is currently ranked 21st in the Coaches Poll and 22nd in the AP Poll.

This year, North Carolina has struggled en route to a 4-2 start, which includes a two-point loss to Texas and a 13-point loss at Iowa. They’re coming off a six-point home win over North Carolina Central, who currently ranks 266th at KenPom.

Ironically, both Kentucky and North Carolina have been horrifically bad from deep this season, as the Heels rank 274th nationally in three-point percentage (27%) compared to 296th for the Cats (24.7%).

The biggest strength of these Heels is the frontcourt, as they ranked third nationally in offensive rebound percentage (42.5%), though Kentucky isn’t too far behind at 35th (35.3%).

As crazy as it sounds, this may actually be a more winnable game than had the Cats faced UCLA. North Carolina is currently ranked 28th in KenPom compared to 26th-ranked UCLA. The Bruins are also riding a five-game winning streak and coming off a nine-point win over 33rd-ranked Marquette.

Plus, if Kentucky wins, it’s going to be a lot more rewarding to beat the Tar Heels than it would be UCLA.

That said, I’d still expect Kentucky to be a 2-3 point underdog Saturday.

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