College basketball doesn't get enough credit for how well it schedules in November and December, but the sport keeps churning out really good events -- and we have news to share of the latest, which will absolutely be a marquee affair for years to come.
It's a four-team blockbuster fixture in the style of the already successful Champions Classic, only this one will have a different batch of teams.
Four distinct, different regions of the country are covered by four programs that total 25 NCAA Tournament championships -- nearly a third of all title-winners. Pretty great. Kentucky is the only program of the four that will compete in both the Champions Classic (which also boasts Duke, Michigan State and Kansas) and the CBS Sports Classic.
“We're excited to bring these powerhouse programs together for a tremendous early-season showcase,” said Dan Weinberg, Senior Vice President, Programming, CBS Sports. “From its debut next season, the CBS Sports Classic will be a marquee event, adding to our already deep college basketball schedule.”
The next three seasons' worth of matchups and venues have already been set for this event. It will be a round-robin concept, with next season's games starting in Chicago at the United Center on Dec. 20. UCLA plays Kentucky; UNC gets Ohio State. On Dec. 19, 2015, UNC vs. UCLA and UK vs. OSU are the matchups at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The third stop will be in Las Vegas -- venue to be determined -- on Dec. 17, 2016. That round will feature Kentucky vs. North Carolina and UCLA vs. Ohio State.
Next season's games at the United Center will be played at 1 p.m. ET (UNC vs. Ohio State) and approximately 3:30 p.m. ET (UCLA vs. Kentucky) and broadcast on CBS. In addition, CBS Sports will stream the games exclusively on CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.
“We are excited to be part of the CBS Sports Classic the next three seasons,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said in a statement. “The four teams competing have a tremendous history of success in college basketball. We have partnered with terrific cities and venues to make this a great experience for our program, our student-athletes and our fans.”
If four-team college basketball megamatches become an annual trend, I doubt most would argue. And with this, college basketball's non-conference schedule keeps getting better. Earlier this week we learned of the Gavitt Tipoff, an annual inter-conference series of games between the Big East and Big Ten. The blend of on-campus games and made-for-TV matchups between blue bloods is giving college hoops fans more options before the conference season begins than they've ever had.