UCLA is traveling outside of its comfort zone of Southern California for the first time this season as the Bruins head to Cleveland to take on No. 20 Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic. The Bruins were originally scheduled to play Kentucky, while the Buckeyes were slated to play North Carolina before the matchups were flipped to accommodate the COVID-19 testing protocols of each program.
The altered schedule makes for an especially compelling matchup in the finale of the classic as both Ohio State and UCLA enter with 5-1 records thanks to some solid offensive outings in the early going. Both teams have veteran rosters and a propensity for reaching the free-throw line. They also have a history with each other, having split their last two meetings in the CBS Sports Classic with Ohio State winning in 2018 and UCLA winning in 2016.
It should be a compelling matchup between a pair of teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations that are looking to add a quality non conference victory to their resumes with long conference schedules soon kicking into full gear.
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- When: Saturday, 4:15 p.m. ET
- Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio
- TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
- OTT: CBS Sports App (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast)
UCLA: When UCLA got waxed by San Diego State in its opener and needed three overtimes to beat Pepperdine and avoid starting 0-2, it conjured flashbacks to the Bruins' bad start last season. But it appears these Bruins are fine after all as they have rebounded from their rough beginning to enter this showdown with Ohio State on a five-game winning streak. Most recently, UCLA handled Marquette 69-60 last Friday, which counts as a great win considering the Golden Eagles already have a couple victories over top-10 opponents. Second-year coach Mick Cronin also has a new tool to use now that he was missing in the season's first week. Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang is back from injury and started against Marquette. Juzang and a strong returning core from last year's team that won seven straight games in February make UCLA one of the favorites in the Pac-12. But a win over a ranked Big Ten foe would help the Bruins tremendously in building a quality NCAA Tournament resume.
Ohio State: Ohio State lost its Big Ten opener 67-60 at Purdue on Wednesday with seniors CJ Walker and Kyle Young coming off the bench. The ability of coach Chris Holtmann to relegate a pair of veterans to the bench is a sign of the depth he's built in his fourth season leading the program. But it's also a reminder that this roster is still in transition with five newcomers in the rotation when counting guard Must Jallow, who redshirted last season. That number does not include former Ivy League Player of the Year Seth Towns, who has yet to make his Buckeyes debut after a knee surgery at Harvard last year. Leading scorer E.J. Liddell also missed the last two games as he battles back from mononucleosis. His status is uncertain for the UCLA game. Despite the moving parts and addition of several newcomers, the Buckeyes are off to a 5-1 start. And the fact that the early season has forced Holtmann to develop depth could pay off as Ohio State heads toward the thick of a brutal Big Ten schedule.
Game prediction, pick
Perhaps Ohio State will be the pick if these teams meet in the postseason with Towns in the rotation for Ohio State and Liddell's health no longer in question. But for now, UCLA is the healthier team. The Bruins should also be well-rested after going eight days between games. Prediction: UCLA 78, Ohio State 71
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