A pair of blue-blood programs will face off at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Saturday afternoon, as No. 7 Kentucky and UCLA do battle in the fourth annual CBS Sports Classic. This marks the fourth year in a row the Wildcats and Bruins have met in December, and when you throw in last year’s NCAA tournament thriller, these college basketball powerhouses are starting to build quite the rivalry.
This year’s game is scheduled to tip at about 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on CBS. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game on your phone, your computer or on another streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services. They cost a monthly fee but all come with a free trial, so you can watch today’s game at no cost:
CBS All Access: This service lets you watch a live stream of your local CBS channel (most markets included) for $5.99 per month. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial right here, and you can watch on your computer via the CBS website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the CBS app.
FuboTV: CBS (live in at least 20 markets) is included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package, which gives you access to 70-plus channels and costs $19.99 per month for the first two months and $39.99 per month after that. It also comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via the Fubo website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app.
These two schools produced a pair of highly entertaining games last season, but things change quickly in the college basketball world, and neither team looks anything like last year’s version. UCLA, in particular, has taken a significant step back after last year’s Sweet 16 run.
The Bruins began the season ranked 21st, but as Steve Alford has adjusted to life without Lonzo Ball, Isaac Hamilton, TJ Leaf and Bryce Alford, they’ve gotten off to a bumpy start. The season began with narrow victories over Georgia Tech and Central Arkansas and a loss to Creighton, and after the Bruins smoothed things out a little bit, they suffered consecutive losses to Michigan and Cincinnati. Throw in a mere three-point win at home earlier this week against South Dakota after nearly blowing a 24-point lead, and they aren’t exactly entering this game with a whole lot of confidence.
Kentucky’s young team, meanwhile, has shaken off an early four-point loss to Kansas with seven straight wins. They hadn’t really been tested during that stretch until a home game against Virginia Tech last week. The Hokies, who rank No. 35 nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings, led by six at halftime, but Kentucky scored 52 points in the second half to come away with the victory. The Wildcats’ energy and athleticism was key in the win, as they forced 19 turnovers that led to 36 points and pulled down 19 offensive rebounds.
“Their length and their speed and their athleticism will disrupt,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said.
To counteract that, the Bruins will need to be strong with the basketball and limit Kentucky’s second-chance opportunities. But they way they’ve played lately isn’t a good sign for either of those areas, as the last three games have seen them commit 17.0 turnovers and allow 9.7 offensive rebounds per game. Against South Dakota, they gave up 13 offensive rebounds.
“That shouldn’t happen,” Bruins coach Steve Alford said. “We’re going to play much bigger, much more athletic teams than this, and we have already, and we’ve been a good rebounding team.”
Recent play suggests Kentucky will be a significant favorite, but with so much youth and talent on the court, and with two teams that love to push the tempo, it should still ultimately be a highly entertaining contest.