The likes of Kentucky basketball has its wide selection of rivals. However, fans will be the first to tell you that there isn’t a game on Kentucky’s schedule that comes close in comparison to the Wildcats’ annual matchup against the Louisville Cardinals.
This Saturday, it’s Kentucky’s turn to hit the road and travel 77 miles to the KFC Yum! Center. Last December, the Wildcats made quick work of the Cardinals in a 90-61 blowout performance. Can they make it two in a row this weekend?
The Wildcats are coming off their highest-quality win of the season. In fact, one could argue that last Saturday’s win over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the CBS Sports Classic was just as significant as last season’s wins at West Virginia and over Tennessee in the SEC Championship game.
Kentucky was in a grueling spot entering last week’s game. They had played down to competition, been blown out by Duke in the season’s opener and had even suffered an overtime loss to Seton Hall. Sophomore point guard Quade Green had transferred out of the program mid-season and the team simply couldn't string together a 40-minute effort of basketball.
However, the starting unit came together in Chicago to manhandle the Tar Heels and potentially find their turning point for the season. A week later, the Wildcats will look to further improve their play with a road test in the most hostile environment this team will visit all season long.
The Louisville Cardinals, a team that has been rejuvenated by first-year head coach Chris Mack, are 9-3 on the season (including 8-0 at home) and will most certainly be ready for the rivalry game.
Luckily, Kentucky found their mojo on defense last week while also consistently scoring the basketball in rhythm. Needless to say, this weekend’s matchup will be one worth watching.
Kentucky opened as a one-point favorite over Louisville. Some sportsbooks have already gone to 2 points for the Wildcats.
Saturday is likely going to be a dogfight that comes down to the wire, so it makes sense for the oddsmakers to base their line on that scenario happening.
Here are some betting trends for both teams entering Saturday:
- Kentucky is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
- Kentucky is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Kentucky’s last 6 games
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Kentucky’s last 5 games on the road
- Louisville is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Louisville’s last 6 games
- Kentucky is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Louisville
- Kentucky is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Louisville
- The total has gone UNDER in 13 of Kentucky’s last 19 games when playing Louisville
- Kentucky is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games when playing on the road against Louisville
- The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Kentucky’s last 9 games when playing on the road against Louisville
In a survey conducted by the Lexington Herald-Leader, game predictions resulted in a lop-sided 26-5 result. As you could probably guess, the survey favored the Wildcats despite head coach John Calipari’s team traveling on the road for the second consecutive week.
Predictions from A Sea of Blue filtered in at 7-0, favoring the Wildcats.
However, despite the Wildcats being favored by a point, CBS Sports expert Kyle Boone is going with the home team in a 70-67 upset.
ESPN BPI gives Louisville a 55-percent chance of winning.
The prediction from NCAA.com, though, is siding with the Wildcats in an 80-75 finish.
Sports Illustrated is going with a 75-66 win for Kentucky.
TeamRankings is going with a 74-73 win for the Wildcats.
Last year’s result came with a shock, as Kentucky wasn’t a high-quality team and the rivalry game always seems to be decently close. In fact, with last season’s matchup aside, the past five meetings had been decided by less than an average of five points.
Kentucky enters the game playing their best defense of the season, along with putting a starting five on the court that has an actual flow on offense.
Behind PJ Washington and Reid Travis, the Wildcats should ride their ideal combination of veteran leadership and young talent to a close win over the Cardinals.
Final Score: Kentucky 74, Louisville 69