How to watch Louisville Cardinals (10-2) at Kentucky Wildcats (9-2)
Where: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky
Date: Dec. 29, 2017
Time: 1 pm EST
Online Stream: CBS Sports Online
Replay: UK Basketball Live
Odds & Predictions: UK opened as a 6.5-point favorite. KenPom projected UK to be a 5.5-point favorite and gives them a 70-percent chance of winning. They project a 76-70 win for the Cats. ESPN’s BPI matchup predictor gives UK a 63.8-percent chance of winning this rivalry matchup.
The annual rivalry game, the Cats vs. the Cards, tips off Friday afternoon and there’s a lot at stake for both programs.
For Kentucky, they need a strong bounce back following a disappointing (to say the least) showing against UCLA in New Orleans. Kentucky really has yet to pick up a signature non-conference win this season outside of Virginia Tech, so defeating Louisville would give them two heading into the conference portion of the season.
Winning could mean a lot for the Wildcats when postseason play comes around. The conference schedule is tougher this year, so while there are more opportunities for quality wins, Kentucky could take several hits during that schedule slate, especially on the road.
Picking up a win versus the Cards could do a lot to give a jolt of excitement to the fan base, which is sorely needed.
For Louisville, the game is a chance to build some momentum heading into a difficult ACC schedule. A win would give the Cards bragging rights for the second consecutive season, which isn’t something any Kentucky fan wants to deal with.
Looking at the matchups, there doesn’t seem to be a huge disparity on paper. Kentucky seems to have the edge offensively, but Louisville has the edge defensively.
To win, Kentucky will have to make significant strides on their perimeter defense or else Quentin Snider, Deng Adel, and VJ King will have no problem getting to the basket.
On the other end, Kentucky will have to hit perimeter shots to win the game. Kentucky’s strength is getting to the basket, but those looks will not come as easy against Louisville bigs Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud, who currently ranks second in the nation for blocks per game with 4.3.
So offensively, being able to finish at the rim through contested shots and hitting open perimeter jumpers will be key for the Wildcats.
This should be a close game, hopefully with the Cats coming out on top.