Ohio State men's basketball will now face UCLA, not North Carolina, in CBS Sports Classic

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State Buckeyes guard Jimmy Sotos (1) is congratulated by Ohio State Buckeyes guard Musa Jallow (2) after scoring during the second half of Sunday's NCAA Division I basketball game against the Cleveland State Vikings at Value City Arena in Columbus, Oh. on December 13, 2020. Ohio State won the game 67-61.

When details for the CBS Sports Classic were announced this fall, Ohio State was set to open the annual double-header against North Carolina on Dec. 19. The game was then to be followed by UCLA and Kentucky.

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Then, the order of the games was flipped once Ohio State's football team qualified for the Big Ten championship, a game that will be played at noon Saturday. As a result, the Buckeyes and Tar Heels had their game flipped to 4:15 p.m., with the UCLA-Kentucky game to take place at 2 p.m.

Now that, too, has been changed. Event organizers announced on Wednesday that Ohio State will now face UCLA in the second game of the double-header after the Tar Heels and Wildcats play at 2 p.m.

According to a news release, the schedule was altered "to more closely align COVID-19 testing protocols between the competing programs and their respective conferences." The Big Ten and Pac-12 have identical testing protocols. 

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann and North Carolina coach Roy Williams spoke Wednesday morning about changing the matchup and both were fine with doing so.

"We want the event to happen, obviously," Holtmann told The Dispatch. "We both just agreed. It’s a different year and I’m sure this won’t be the first or last game that get changed. It’s a year of unique challenges, for sure."

The games will take place in Cleveland's Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, home of the NBA's Cavaliers. 

This is the seventh year of the event. Ohio State is 3-3 overall and last played UCLA in 2018, when the Buckeyes won, 80-66, at the United Center in Chicago. 

The Bruins are 5-1 overall and coached by former Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. Ohio State is No. 20 in this week's Associated Press top 25 poll, two spots ahead of the Tar Heels. The Bruins are unranked but receiving votes.

Ohio State is at Purdue on Wednesday night for its Big Ten opener.