Kentucky Wildcats at Louisville Cardinals – NCAAM December 26

Louisville (5-1) at Kentucky (1-5)

Series:

Apologies to other great rivalries in college basketball, but the Cardinals vs. the Wildcats is the premiere rivalry in the premiere sport. Kentucky lead it 37-16 and the Wildcats are 11-2 vs. Louisville since John Calipari took over 10 years ago. Louisville’s two wins have been at the KFC Yum! Center as the last was during the 2016-17 season when the Cardinals took a 73-70 win. Kentucky won 78-70 at Rupp Arena last year in overtime.

Vs. the Spread:

The Wildcats are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games and the total has been UNDER in Kentucky’s last six matchups. The total has also been UNDER in 13 of the Cardinals’ last 20 outings. The Cardinals are 0-5 ATS in their last five vs. the SEC. The Cardinals are 1-7 ATS when playing at the KFC Yum! Center vs. the rival Wildcats.

Teams Spread Total Points
Kentucky +4 (-107) O 134½ (-105)
Louisville -4 (-113) U 134½ (-115)

Last Time Out:

North Carolina trimmed Kentucky 75-63 to send the Wildcats to their fifth loss in a row which is the first time since the 1926-27 season. Davion Mintz scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Brandon Boston, Jr., netted 15 and Devin Askew scored 12. Tje Wildcats were 3-of-13 with four turnovers in the last ten minutes of the game, after Kentucky held a 38-34 lead at halftime.

Louisville took a 64-54 win at Pitt on Tuesday evening after losing 85-48 at home against No. 4 Wisconsin when the Cardinals had only seven players available. Carlik Jones was back on the point where he had 11 points, four boards, and seven assists. Louisville was led my a pair of double-doubles from David Johnson (17 points/12 rebounds) and Samuell Williamson (14 points/12 rebounds), who had their first career double-doubles while setting career highs in rebounds.

Paw Talk:

Kentucky Wildcats LogoThe sky is always falling in Kentucky when the Wildcats lose a game – let alone five in a row. Their fans don’t analyze and they do not realize that John Calipari is one of the best teachers in the game and uses the summer months, the preseason and the time between games to indoctrinate young players and teach them the game.

The time loss for all teams due to COVID-19 is insurmountable.

While this group is not as talented across the boards as many in recent history, the smart money says that they come out of a week of practice ready for rivalry with the Cardinals. No one of this team played last season except Keion Brooks, Jr., who hasn’t seen the floor as of now.

Kentucky has struggled with ball handling as the Wildcats have averaged 16.7 turnovers per game in allowing 19.3 points off those turnovers. Louisville forces 12 turnovers per game and the Cardinals score 14 points off of opponents miscues. To underscore the height of the turnover issues, the Wildcats have shot an amazing 42.7 percent from the field, but only 24.3 percent and have outrebounded their opponents by six per night. Brandon Boston, Jr., leads the Wildcats with 14.5 points per game while Olivier Saar (10.5 ppg/5.7 rpg) shoots inside at a 55.6 percent clip. Terrence Clark is the second leading scorer (12.5 ppg), but has 13 assists and 20 turnovers as he plays generally at a 2-guard.

In the Cards:

Louisville Cardinals LogoThe Cardinals’ pause for COVID-19 lasted 18 days between games as it showed in the loss to Wisconsin without six scholarship players, including Carlik Jones, who will be a tough matchup for Kentucky. Jones’ experience in moving over from Radford where he was the Big South Player of the Year last season will be a huge key vs. Kentucky’s freshman-filled roster.

David Johnson has been a flame-thrower of late in averaging 16.3 points and six boards in the last four games. Samuell Williamson (11.0 ppg/7.0 rpg) is the Cardinals’ leading rebounder while shooting 50 percent from the floor. Jae’lyn Withers and Dre Davis are two huge factors for the Cardinals as Withers is the Cardinals’ second leading rebounder at 6.5 per game while shooting 53.6 percent. Davis plays 32 minutes per night while shooting 47.5 percent. The Cardinals are clearly the better team and their ability to force turnovers and attack and finish consistently inside of their offense should be enough to pick up a closer than expected win.

Winner: Louisville (-4) 72, Kentucky 64
O/U: Take OVER 134½

The Bets
Louisville -4
-113
OVER 134½
-105
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.