The greatest rivalry in college basketball returns to Rupp Arena Saturday afternoon. The Cats and the Cards tip-off at 3:45 p.m. ET on CBS.
A one-sided rivalry since John Calipari’s been on the sideline, he’s never lost to Louisville at Rupp Arena. The last time the Cards beat a non-Billy Clyde Kentucky team at Rupp, Francisco Garcia and Luke Whitehead bested Chuck Hayes and Co. in 2003. Coach Cal’s overall record vs. UofL is 10-2.
There are two things that make this game different than Calipari’s previous 12 meetings against Louisville: Kentucky has lost two consecutive games and they do not have the best player on the floor. Jordan Nwora has led Louisville in scoring in every single contest this year, averaging 21.2 points (48.1% FG, 41.4% 3FG) and 7.5 rebounds per game. Calipari has only lost three straight games at UK once, a skid that turned into four in February of 2018.
The confidence of each Kentucky fan depends if you prefer to view this matchup from an historical or contemporary perspective. John Calipari teams don’t lose to Louisville at Rupp Arena, but this Louisville team has played much better to this point in the season, owning wins over three power-five programs, including a top-five Michigan team. Meanwhile, the Cats have three losses, two to teams that won’t sniff the NCAA Tournament. The Cards have experience and depth inside, but none of them have experience defeating UK in Lexington.
Kentucky beating Louisville — the state’s greatest basketball tradition.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) December 28, 2019
Louisville got Bill Murray to narrate their hype video. Score one for the Cards.
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) December 28, 2019
Calipari Said Nice Things About UofL
Coach Cal’s comments about the Cards were actually too nice. On top of the praise he heaped upon Louiisville’s defense, he had this to say about Chris Mack’s team.
“Louisville is really good,” Calipari said during his pregame press conference on Friday afternoon. “Jordan [Nwora] is as good as they get. Dwayne [Sutton] is playing good. Ryan [McMahon] is shooting. I mean, this is a really good basketball team. Chris [Mack] has done a great job with his team, a veteran team. They run their stuff.”
I would prefer to hear Calipari pull out some trash-talk as though Rick Pitino were coaching. For example, “You can’t beat me and you have a stupid tattoo.” Both true statements.
We have a Mayors’ Bet
Is it a rivalry game if the mayors of the respective towns are making a friendly wager? I think not. Louisville’s Greg Fischer put a bottle of Old Forester on the table. Lexington’s Linda Gorton responded with a bottle of James E. Pepper 1776. Whoever wins, I have a feeling the entire Commonwealth will be sampling brown water before the day is done.
TV, Radio, Vegas
The Cats opened as one-point favorites against the Cards with a total of 131.5. UK has only covered twice in the last nine games, while Louisville bettors have cashed tickets in five of their previous six outings. The KSR Pregame Show begins on WLAP at 1:00 p.m. ET. Brad Nessler and Bill Raftery are on the call for CBS. If you can’t watch, there are multiple ways to listen to The Voice of the Wildcats.
- AM: 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP
- FM: 98.1 WBUL
- Satellite: XM-191 and Sirius-136
- Online: iHeart Radio
Look out for Joe B. and Denny
According to our good friend Oscar Combs, the two coaches that started it all back in 1983 will be sitting side-by-side at Rupp Arena this afternoon. Surely, a few fish tales will be told during timeouts.
Today’s Tale of the Tape
Yes, it’s time for the College Football Playoff. Oddly, this year’s edition falls three days before the New Year. If it snuck up on you, don’t worry. The first game kicks off not too long after the Cats and the Cards, but you should still be able to catch the end of Oklahoma-LSU before Clemson and Ohio State begin their epic duel at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Take a look at all four games you can pick at KSBar for a chance to win $5,000.
- Cotton Bowl: #17 Memphis vs. #10 Penn State at Noon on ESPN
- Camping World Bowl: #15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State at Noon on ABC
- Peach Bowl: #4 Oklahoma vs. #1 LSU at 4:00 on ESPN
- Fiesta Bowl: #2 Ohio State vs. #3 Clemson at 8:00 on ESPN
Talkin’ Bout Practice
While the Kentucky basketball team is going to work, the football team has a busy day in Charlotte. Their day begins at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a NASCAR experience. After changing some tires and taking a few laps around the track, they’ll hit the practice field for a couple hours. It’s all capped off with a shopping spree at — wait for it — you guessed it, Belk.
Remember that time…
…Aaron Harrison hit a corner-three to knock Louisville out of the NCAA Tournament? Good times.