- Time 5:30 pm ET
- Location: T-Mobile Arena Las Vegas, Nevada.
- TV Channel: CBS has today’s TV coverage.
- Announcers: Brad Nessler, Bill Raftery and Jamie Erdahl are calling the action.
- Online Stream: Stream the game online using CBS Sports Online, the CBS Sports mobile app, or a free trial of FuboTV.
- Replay: SEC Network (check local listings)
- Radio: UK Sports Network with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt.
- Satellite Radio: Sirius 135 | XM 191 | SXM App 962
- Rosters: UK I UNC
- Stats to know: UK I UNC
- Odds: Kentucky is a 3-point favorite, per DraftKings. KenPom gives the Cats a 56% chance of victory. ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Big Blue Nation a 66.8% chance of beating the Tar Heels.
- Predictions: KenPom projects a 74-73 victory, Kentucky! TeamRankings has the Cats winning 73-70.
G A M E D A Y pic.twitter.com/blXJVG9fHY— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) December 18, 2021
Blue Blood Battle.— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) December 18, 2021
Kentucky and North Carolina Saturday on CBS at 5:30 p.m. ET. pic.twitter.com/6jmnXDUjg9
Hours before the Kentucky Wildcats left Lexington to head to Las Vegas for a matchup with the Ohio State Buckeyes, news came through of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Buckeyes program, leaving UK without an opponent for the CBS Sports Classic this weekend.
That brings us to a new scheduled matchup between the Cats and the Tar Heels in Vegas.
Showtime.— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) December 17, 2021
Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET, it’s Kentucky-North Carolina on CBS. pic.twitter.com/uSm8vP7WDG
For Kentucky, this game is an important bounce back opportunity after suffering a tough loss to Notre Dame a week ago. This is a team that needs to make some noise. Not only for the fanbase to gain some faith, but also to give them a boost of confidence they so desperately need.
After a spectacular performance by Oscar Tshiebwe last Saturday, the big man has shown the country what he is capable of on a nightly basis.
Kentucky will now turn to its guards, as they look for some momentum with conference play quickly approaching.
It's no secret the struggles Sahvir Wheeler had against the Irish, especially with the defensive tactics that proved to stifle the junior point-guard. John Calipari spoke to that this week, and now he has been coaching Wheeler to approach his game when it happens again.
“The first thing is, if they play that way, you have to play a little different,” Calipari said. “Maybe not do some of the things you were doing, just run our team. Just do that. The second thing is, this has to have happened to you before. Well, tell me what you did. How did you play? How did you go against it? Instead of me guessing, you tell me.”
With Wheeler needing a bounce back game, so is freshman guard TyTy Washington. After starting out hot in South Bend, it was a struggle for Washington to find a rhythm throughout the rest of the game. For this team to hit their peak, it will likely be with Washington being the primary option, so expect Coach Cal to try and feed TyTy the ball early against the Tar Heels.
For North Carolina, they head into this game 8-2 on the season with losses coming to Purdue and Tennessee.
In his first season, Hubert Davis has started off about as well as you can ask, with the highlight being a 21-point win over Michigan in Chapel Hill.
Sophomore point guard Caleb Love is leading the way for UNC so far this season, as he’s averaging 16.2 points on 44% shooting from the field (43% from three as well). He is also adding 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
Another backcourt threat to watch for is R.J. Davis. The second-year guard averages 13.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, including two 20+ efforts in wins over Brown and Georgia Tech.
In the paint Oscar will matchup with Armando Bacot, who has started his junior season extremely well. Through 10 games, he is averaging 14.3 points on 62 percent shooting, while also adding 9.8 rebounds. Should be a battle between the two star bigs on Saturday night.
This past offseason, the Tar Heels brought in two impact transfers in Oklahoma forward Brady Manek (13.0 ppg and 5.8 rpg) and Marquette forward Dawson Garcia (12.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg). Manek scored 24 in the loss to Tennessee. Garcia has scored 20+ in two straight games.
Overall, expect a fight between the two blue-blood programs, but if the Cats can run efficient offense and execute on outside shooting, it should be a good night for Kentucky fans in Vegas.