Earlier this week, the non-conference schedule for the 2019-20 regular season was announced. Many of the opponents were already known with some mid-majors and Georgia Tech filling in the gaps.
One game that has been known for some time is the CBS Sports Classic game between the Cats and Ohio State in Las Vegas. Now while Ohio State is a solid top-25 opponent, it is not a team that really excites the fanbase. The other game on that day is North Carolina and UCLA, another “meh” matchup.
When I sit back and remember the games in this classic, three immediately come to mind. The 2014-15 team’s utter domination of UCLA. That game might have been the most dominating win in program history.
The next game was another one in Vegas where Malik Monk had the best single game performance in the Calipari era with his 47-points against North Carolina.
The final was last season where Ashton Hagans had his coming out party in a win again over the Tar Heels.
The common thread between two of these games was the opponent, a true blue blood in North Carolina. The other was just a dominating performance.
The lack of excitement that is surrounding the UCLA and Ohio State programs is why I am recommending that the classic should reform with two new teams.
The two easiest teams to add would be Gonzaga and Villanova. You’d be hard-pressed to find two teams that have been more successful in the past few years. If you wanted to stick with major conference teams, why not add Michigan? Or even a Texas Tech program that has been on the rise in the past few years. Hell, I’d even be happier with an Oregon or Arizona over UCLA. I’d like to add Virginia, but two ACC teams could cause obvious scheduling issues.
Will this change happen? Maybe not, but I think it should be considered by whoever runs the classic. They know that every three years they will get the exciting North Carolina-Kentucky matchup, but why not have it be UNC-Gonzaga and UK-Villanova in off years instead of UNC-UCLA and UK-OSU.