UCLA vs. UNC Men's Basketball in CBS Sports Classic Canceled Because of COVID-19

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 17, 2021

UCLA guard Tyger Campbell (10) celebrates with center Myles Johnson (15) and guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24) after scoring during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Colorado in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

UCLA announced Friday that its men's basketball game against North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic scheduled for Saturday has been canceled because of COVID-19 issues within the Bruins program.

The following statement was posted on Twitter:

UCLA Men’s Basketball @UCLAMBB

UPDATE: UCLA's game versus <a href="https://twitter.com/UNC_Basketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UNC_Basketball</a> in the CBS Sports Classic this Saturday has been canceled. <a href="https://t.co/LohrhHeRwr">pic.twitter.com/LohrhHeRwr</a>

UCLA's decision to call off Saturday's game comes on the heels of Ohio State announcing Thursday that its CBS Sports Classic game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas against Kentucky was also canceled because of positive COVID-19 tests within the Buckeyes program.

With neither UCLA nor Ohio State able to play, an adjustment has reportedly been made that will still allow UNC and Kentucky to have a game.

According to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, the plan is now for North Carolina and Kentucky to face each other at 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Norlander noted that UNLV and Northwestern were considered as potential replacement teams before the North Carolina vs. Kentucky game was settled upon.

UCLA's absence means the CBS Sports Classic will be without the highest-ranked team in the field.

The Bruins are off to an 8-1 start this season, with their only loss coming to then-No. 1 Gonzaga. UCLA is ranked No. 4 in the nation coming off a surprise appearance in the Final Four last season.

With guard Johnny Juzang and his 16.6 points per game leading the way, the Bruins would have been favored against a UNC team that is unranked but off to a solid 8-2 start in Hubert Davis' first season as head coach.

Now, UNC will reportedly shift its focus to a Kentucky team that is ranked No. 21 in the nation with a 7-2 record.

North Carolina and Kentucky are two of the most successful programs in college basketball history, as the Tar Heels have won six NCAA tournament championships and the Wildcats have won eight.

For now, UCLA is pausing basketball activities, with its next game scheduled for Wednesday against Cal Poly, although it isn't yet known if that contest will be played.