In the span of 24 hours, the Kentucky Wildcats’ season has been spun around.
Coming off a loss at 3-4 Notre Dame with a bad taste in their mouths, the Cats prepared to come to Las Vegas to bounce back with a win over a ranked Ohio State squad that would’ve finally given them a good non-conference victory.
However, the Buckeyes had to back out due to the virus that is suddenly putting teams on COVID pauses again, and UK was robbed of a chance to prove themselves in Vegas as only three teams would be making the flight.
That eventually changed, however, as UCLA also had to back out of the event, leaving the CBS Sports Classic with just two teams: UK and North Carolina.
The greatest tradition in the history of college basketball versus the second-greatest tradition in the history of college basketball. The most dominant team in the sport versus the only team who has consistently been able to defeat them. The team with the second most national titles versus the team with the third most national titles. Big Blue versus Baby Blue. Anthony Davis’s block. Luke Maye’s jumper. Malik Monk’s 47.
It’s Kentucky vs. North Carolina.
The Tar Heels, who would be in the top-10 if it wasn’t for losses to heavyweights Purdue and Tennessee, have the potential to be as good as the Buckeyes, if not better. But none of that matters.
What matters is that there are 358 Division 1 teams and only one—only one—has consistently been able to defeat the Kentucky Wildcats and challenge them for the title of the best program in hoops history, and they play in the Dean Dome.
UK’s record and NCAA Tournament seed don’t matter that much. So what if they finish the regular season 23-8, 22-9, or 24-7? So what if they are a 3 seed, or a 6 or a 5 or whatever? They’ll get in—Tshiebwe will make sure of that. And they’ll advance far—maybe all the way. Tshiebwe will make sure of that.
But focus on the present and beat Carolina. If Kentucky can defeat North Carolina tomorrow afternoon and then rock U of L a few days later, the Notre Dame loss will be a distant memory. The CBS Sports Classic has gone from an opportunity to bounce back after a loss with a win over a ranked Big Ten team to an opportunity to beat. North. Carol. Ina.
This game is much, much more than an opportunity to simply go from 7-2 to 8-2. So let’s hope Kellan Grady scores 48. Go Big Blue Saturday.