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UNC’s series with Kentucky to continue, sort of

Kentucky head coach John Calipari and UNC's coach Roy Williams shake hands following Kentucky's 84-70 victory on Saturday, December, 13, 2014 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari and UNC's coach Roy Williams shake hands following Kentucky's 84-70 victory on Saturday, December, 13, 2014 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. rwillett@newsobserver.com

North Carolina and Kentucky played each other home and away for 12 consecutive seasons between 2000 and 2011 but lately their meetings have become rarer, and it’s possible their home-and-away series is a thing of the past.

Their regular-season rivalry, though, will continue beyond this season. The Tar Heels and Wildcats will play on Saturday in Las Vegas in the CBS Sports Classic, which announced on Tuesday that the event would continue for the next three years.

The schools that have been competing in it since its inception – UNC, Kentucky, Ohio State and UCLA – have agreed to remain a part of it. And so UNC and Kentucky will meet again in the event again, at some point during the next three years.

In 2017, the CBS Sports Classic will be on Dec. 23 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, where UNC began this season with a 95-75 victory against Tulane. The 2018 and ’19 sites and dates for the Classic are yet to be determined.

The Tar Heels will play against Ohio State in 2017, against Kentucky in 2018 and against UCLA in 2019. UNC is 2-0 in the event. The Tar Heels defeated UCLA, 89-76, last season in Brooklyn. Two years ago, UNC left Chicago with an 82-74 victory against Ohio State.

Outside of the CBS Sports Classic, it’s unclear if UNC and Kentucky will resume their home-and-home series any time soon. UNC coach Roy Williams has expressed trepidation about loading the non-conference schedule with difficult games given the ACC’s move to expand the conference schedule.

The league is moving to a 20-game regular-season conference schedule for the 2019-20 season, just in time for the launch of the ESPN-backed ACC Network. The conference began playing an 18-game league schedule during the 2012-13 season, after playing 16 games for 21 seasons.

Andrew Carter: 919-829-8944, @_andrewcarter

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