Busting Brackets

North Carolina vs Kentucky: 2020-21 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 11: Garrison Brooks #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels talks to head coach Roy Williams during a game against the Clemson Tigers on January 11, 2020 at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Clemson won 76-79 in overtime. (Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 11: Garrison Brooks #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels talks to head coach Roy Williams during a game against the Clemson Tigers on January 11, 2020 at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Clemson won 76-79 in overtime. (Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images) /

A battle between two blue bloods with North Carolina and Kentucky is set to tip-off on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic.

TV Schedule: Saturday, December 19th, 2 pm ET, CBS

Arena: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, OH.

On Saturday, the No. 22 North Carolina Tar Heels (4-2) and Kentucky Wildcats (1-4) will face each other in a non-conference matchup on neutral court in the CBS Sports Classic. This matchup will be the first event of a doubleheader on Saturday for the CBS Sports Classic.

On Wednesday afternoon, the CBS Sports Classic schedule was revised with UCLA and North Carolina to swap matchups.

The updated CBS Sports Classic matchups will have No. 20 Ohio State Buckeyes facing the UCLA Bruins at 4:15 pm ET as part of the second matchup of the CBS Sports Classic.

Since the birth of the event in 2014, North Carolina currently has a 4-2 record in the CBS Sports Classic, while Kentucky is 3-3.

This will mark the 38th all-time meeting between the two historic programs. North Carolina currently leads the series 21-16, while Kentucky won its last matchup against the Tar Heels 80-72 in 2018.

Both teams will enter Saturday’s matchup with much-needed rest during a week off. North Carolina won at home last Saturday 73-67 against the North Carolina Central Eagles. Sophomore forward, Armando Bacot (11 ppg, 8.8 rpg), led the Tar Heels with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Kentucky is coming off a heartbreaking loss last Saturday 64-63 at home against Notre Dame. Senior forward, Olivier Sarr (12.2 ppg, 6 rpg), had his best game so far for the Wildcats, scoring 22 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks while shooting 11-for-16 from the floor.

Kentucky trailed by 22 points at halftime on Saturday. The Wildcats were able to come back from the large deficit to cut Notre Dame’s lead to just one. However, as time expired, Sarr could not connect with his jumper at the right baseline, sending the Wildcats its fourth straight loss of the season.

Entering their matchup on Saturday, North Carolina currently has four players averaging at least 11 points per game with senior forward Garrison Brooks (11.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg), freshman guard RJ Davis (11.2 ppg), freshman point guard Caleb Love (11.2 ppg, 3.3 apg), and sophomore forward Armando Bacot.

One big key for the Tar Heels will be to win the turnover battle. UNC has struggled with turnovers during their last two games. The Tar Heels had 18 turnovers each against Iowa and North Carolina Central. The freshman guards of Love and Davis in the backcourt have been a work in progress, as two have combined for 16 of the 36 turnovers during the last two games.

North Carolina will look to use their size in the frontcourt to their advantage on Saturday. Rebounding has been a strong suit this season for the Tar Heels. UNC has won the rebounding battle in each of their games this season. Through six games, the Tar Heels are outrebounding their opponents, 280-187 on the glass (plus-93), and are currently Top 10 nationally with 46.7 rebounds per game.

Another key for North Carolina is to limit Olivier Sarr and to force him into foul trouble. Sarr is coming off momentum with a 22-point game last week against Notre Dame. For most of their matchup, the Tar Heels were able to stop the Preseason National Player of the Year selection, Luka Garza of Iowa, by allowing him to score a season-low 16 points while shooting 6-for-20 from the floor.

The challenging part of North Carolina’s matchup will be out on the perimeter. Currently, the Tar Heels are shooting just 27 percent from three-point range. UNC made just one three-point shot against Texas and went 2-for-15 from the perimeter against North Carolina Central. It’s been a challenge this season trying to find the next knockdown shooter in Chapel Hill.

As for Kentucky, the Wildcats defense has been the strength of the team this season. Kentucky’s defense was able to keep them in the game against Kansas and the second half against Notre Dame. The Wildcats have fared well this season defending the perimeter. Kentucky has allowed their opponents to shoot just 27.5 percent from the outside this season.

The Wildcats will look to transfer its second half momentum from last week by giving Sarr more touches inside. Sarr was the emerging star for Kentucky against Notre Dame, making 11 shots out of 16 attempts. He will get a challenging matchup on Saturday with UNC’s frontcourt with Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, and freshman forward Day’Ron Sharpe (8.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

The Wildcats will need to use the low-post to their advantage and to attack the basket. The key for Kentucky to stay in the game against UNC is to avoid taking deep contested jumpers. Instead, the Wildcats will need to be able to make the extra pass inside to get good shooting looks.

This season, three-point shooting has been a major problem for Kentucky. As a team, the Wildcats are shooting a low-24.7 percent from the perimeter. However, Kentucky on Saturday could be looking at a favorable matchup out on the perimeter. The Tar Heels struggled to guard the perimeter against Iowa and allowed the Hawkeyes to make 17 three-point shots.

Kentucky’s top-two scorers, with freshman five-star guards Brandon Boston (14.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Terrence Clarke (13.8 ppg), are a combined 10-for-42 from three-point range this season (23.8 percent). The Wildcats will need the duo to get great looks to knock down shots.

Clarke’s improvement lately in his three-point shooting has been an encouraging sign for Kentucky.

During his last two games, Clarke is 5-for-8 shooting from the outside. He has the chance to take advantage of his matchup against a North Carolina defense that has allowed its opponents to shoot a combined 34-for-81 (42 percent) from the perimeter during their last three games.

Turnovers are another problem of the growing pains facing a young roster for Kentucky. The Wildcats as a team have 61 assists to 84 total turnovers this season. Kentucky will need to play clean basketball and to cut down on the turnovers. Earlier this season, Georgia Tech forced Kentucky into 21 turnovers, which led to 33 points off turnovers for the Yellow Jackets.

Heading into Saturday’s matchup, North Carolina and Kentucky are heading in opposite directions.

After a down season under head coach Roy Williams which resulted in a 14-19 overall record in 2019-20, the Tar Heels have bounced back nicely this season and are currently 4-2 overall. North Carolina’s two losses were against two Top 15 teams with No. 11 Texas winning on a Matt Coleman buzzer-beater and on the road at No. 3 Iowa.

Kentucky is currently feeling the pain that UNC felt last season. At 1-4 overall, the Wildcats are off to their worst start since the 1984-1985 season. Kentucky is trying to get some motivation by showing major improvements to pull off the upset on Saturday.

For Kentucky, it will take some time to get back into the Top 25, but a win will be a momentum builder before their big in-state rivalry matchup versus Louisville on December 26th.

Next. 10 most valuable teams in terms of finances. dark

Nevertheless, the CBS Sports Classic matchup will feature a showdown between the top two freshman recruiting classes with North Carolina versus Kentucky on Saturday.

Prediction: North Carolina 71, Kentucky 64