It’s that time of year again. The time when we renew what is arguably the best rivalry in college basketball. This year, as has been the case a lot recently, both the Louisville Cardinals and Kentucky Wildcats are highly competitive. There’s a lot of talk leading up to this one, so let’s see what everyone’s saying about No. 6 Kentucky taking on No. 10 Louisville.
Jay Bilas and Seth Greenberg helped break the matchup down, and Bilas sees it as an offense vs. defense battle. Louisville is a good defensive team, and Kentucky scores a lot of points. Greenberg, meanwhile, says it’ll come down to rebounds and transition points.
"It’s kind of a classic offense vs. defense game, where Kentucky is high-powered on offense. They play at a really high tempo. They can get the ball up the court quickly. They’ve got the best freshman guard tandem I’ve ever seen. They’ve got talent across the broad. They’re not a perfect team but they’re really good.
"And then Louisville’s really good defensively. They can and do press. They turn you over. They can protect the rim. They can block shots. They’re a very good rebounding - and offensive rebounding - team. I hear a lot of people say you don’t want to press Kentucky. I think you’re going to see Louisville try to do a couple things to keep them off balance. Louisville’s offense has to be good. They don’t have to shoot an unbelievable percentage; they just can’t turn it over and they have to take good shots."
Fox Sports labeled their five key players in this game. They included Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell, Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo, Deng Adel and Malik Monk.
Here’s what they said about the superstar Monk.
This is easily going to be the player that will decide who will win this game on Wednesday. Monk is currently leading the Wildcats in scoring and will be looking to continue his hot shooting, which won Kentucky the game against North Carolina on Saturday.
As only a freshman, Monk has become one of the best guards in the entire country under John Calipari. Not only is he one of the main reasons why Kentucky is so good, but he is the main reason why they will be heading towards the Final Four come March.
Not to mention, he just put up a career-high in points against the Tar Heels with 47. Monk hit 8 three pointers on the way to a slim, three point victory for the Cats.
With that being said, the Cards have to defend this guy on the perimeter. Laziness on defense will kill Louisville if they can’t defend the perimeter at a high level for 40 minutes.
All we can hope for is that Monk has an off game, but they cannot count on that whatsoever.
The Lexington Herald-Leader, like Bilas, says that Kentucky is going to have a much different battle on their hand because of how good Louisville is defensively. They’re used to running teams right out of the gym in transition, but they may not be able to do that this time around.
Where UCLA and North Carolina, the two best teams Kentucky has faced to date, are offensive juggernauts, Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals are disciples of defense.
KSTV, like everyone else, discusses how this will be a more physical and defensive game than Kentucky had against North Carolina.
I feel fairly confident that my Kentucky-Louisville prediction will hit exactly... pic.twitter.com/FVnAaNLMaX— Adam Lefkoe (@AdamLefkoe) December 20, 2016
Funny Adam, very funny...
Rick Pitino is aware that his team doesn’t match up well with Kentucky. The Wildcats have the athleticism to run right through Louisville, and if Pitino wants the Cards to run with Kentucky (which he does, apparently), his team is going to have a long day.
“What’s impressive about them is that they pass the ball up the floor so quickly and then they finish so quickly. They’re great runners, so we wanted to play good transition defense to get ready for that, but we didn’t look ahead.”
Pitino said he thinks there will be 5,000 Kentucky fans in the arena Wednesday night (and some wealthier Louisville fans).— Howie Lindsey (@howielindsey) December 20, 2016
Blue gets in everywhere, but Pitino already knows all about that.
"It is a hard game for these young kids," Cal says of the game vs. Louisville. Notes that U of L is a top-10 team that doesn't lose at home.— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) December 19, 2016
Calipari has been very respectful of Louisville this week.
As one of the veterans of this team, Derek Willis understands how important this rivalry is.
FanRag is putting Kentucky-Louisville over all other rivalries; over Indiana-Purdue, UCLA-Arizona AND North Carolina-Duke.
And despite the fact that many are taking Kentucky over Louisville, the Cards are still favored in Vegas.
Here’s what Tyler Thompson said:
According to Vegas Insider, Louisville just opened as a 2-point favorite over Kentucky in tomorrow’s showdown at the Yum Center. To quote Calipari, WHAAAAAT?
So, this game is kind of a big deal, Kentucky is faster, Louisville is defensive, a lot of people will bet on Kentucky and these coaches are good. Got it.