Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Vegas Line: Louisville -4.5
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) December 26, 2020
The Louisville men’s basketball team is back home on Saturday for its annual rivalry matchup with Kentucky. Louisville is 5-1 after a 10-point win over Pittsburgh on the road Tuesday. Kentucky sits at 1-5, it’s worst start in over 90 years. The Cats have lost 5 straight since beating Morehead State on Nov. 25.
Louisville has not looked particularly great since returning to action last weekend, but Kentucky’s struggles have been on a totally different level over the past month.
For UK, the problem has clearly been on offense, specifically three point shooting and turnovers. They have not been able to make jump shots, and they cannot take care of the ball. That has been true for them in just about every game this season. The Cats are shooting 24.3 percent from long range, good for 318th in the nation. Defense has not been the problem, and it’s why the majority of their games have not been as lopsided as they probably should have. Kentucky is among the nation’s best in guarding the perimeter and protecting the rim. They are the fourth tallest team in the country, per kenpom.
Louisville’s recent struggles have also been on the offensive end. The Cards have made a total of 7 three pointers and turned the ball over a combined 35 times in the past two games against Pitt and Wisconsin.
If there is one thing to worry about Louisville it is the long offensive drought. A drought in the first half against Wisconsin essentially ended the game within the first 15 minutes. A long drought allowed Pitt to go on a 17-3 run and erase an early double digit deficit in the first half. Kentucky does not create many turnovers, but they makes it extremely hard to get what you want offensively. If this fairly inexperienced Louisville team cannot score for extended periods on Saturday they will be in trouble.
Luckily, Kentucky probably does not have the firepower to make you pay like that Wisconsin team was able to. Louisville could probably win big if everything goes right, but Kentucky has not shown anything all season to make you believe they’re capable of coming into the Yum! Center and blowing the doors off the Cards.
Kentucky will want this to be low scoring. Louisville has a distinct advantage at the guard positions. There will be some pressure on Carlik Jones and David Johnson to execute in the half court. If Louisville can get to 70 points they will be in great shape to come away with a win against their biggest rival.
Louisville has been the better team this season and has many reasons to be confident, but the Cards have been completely dominated by UK over the past 10 seasons. No player that will suit up in red on Saturday has played Kentucky more than once in their college career. There is absolutely some pressure on the Cards to start being competitive in this rivalry. The 2010’s are in the past. Louisville has an opportunity to get started hot with a win in the first matchup of the new decade.
I will leave this here. Go Cards.