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What they’re saying about Kentucky/Louisville

Photo by UK Athletics

The Kentucky/Louisville game is all anyone can talk about in college basketball right now, and throughout the week, the national media has been weighing in with their thoughts. Spoiler alert: not many are picking the Cards.

Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated

We’ll never know if the ACC would have issued a one-game suspension to Montrezl Harrell for throwing an elbow against Western Kentucky, but we can hazard a guess. (Not bloody likely.) With Harrell in the fold, the Cardinals’ starting five can hang with Kentucky’s for a while. However, when the coaches dip into their benches, the Wildcats will own a huge advantage. I’ve long said that if Kentucky is going to lose a game, it will probably come in an unimportant game against a team it overlooks. That won’t be the case here.

Kentucky 80, Louisville 70

Myron Medcalf, ESPN

No need to waste time. There are reasons to believe that Kentucky could lose, but they’re tied to the history of college basketball’s best rivalry game more than this season’s reality. In the past five seasons, John Calipari is 1-4 in Kentucky’s first true road game of the season. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the past five meetings between these two enemies have been decided by single digits. Plus, the Cardinals can swarm the Wildcats with full-court pressure (they’re seventh in defensive turnover percentage). Here’s the issue with all of that. Kentucky is still huge and is still playing the best defense in America. Its opponents have connected on just 32 percent of their 2-pointers, and they’re shooting 27 percent from beyond the arc. How do you get an offensive rhythm going against that, especially if you’re a Louisville team that doesn’t really stretch the floor (29 percent from the 3-point line)? But this is Louisville-Kentucky. And Rick Pitino ain’t lettin’ Calipari just walk into the Yum! Center and whip his squad. This will be a fight. That’s the only way with these two teams.

Prediction: Kentucky 80, Louisville 77 (OT)

Eamonn Brennan, ESPN

Most important player

Louisville’s Chris Jones. Jones has come in for some criticism in the past few weeks, most of it deserved. But he is nonetheless a hugely valuable player for the Cardinals. His 4.5 percent steals rate is the highest on a team that is among the nation’s best at forcing turnovers, and when he is making shots — as he did against Indiana on Dec. 9 — he can be a genuine offensive weapon. If he plays to his outer limits Saturday, if he hassles UK’s guards and poaches run-outs before the Wildcats have a chance to install that nutso back line and doesn’t force things on offense, he could be the key. Emphasis on “if.”

Jon Rothstein, CBS Sports

College basketball’s best rivalry takes the spotlight in what will be the toughest game the Wildcats have on their schedule this season. John Calipari’s team has already beaten Kansas, North Carolina, and UCLA by a combined 85 points but none of those games were on the road. The Cards have the best back court in college basketball in Chris Jones and Terry Rozier along with arguably the front-runner for national player of the year in Montrezl Harrell. But in order to have a chance against Kentucky, Louisville is going to need a strong game from Wayne Blackshear on the perimeter in an effort to open up the Wildcats’ lethal defense. The 6-5 wing had 31 points and made six 3-point shots in Tuesday’s game over Cal State Northridge and he’ll need to be effective again if Rick Pitino’s team is going have a chance in the final 10 minutes of the game. If Blackshear produces and the Cards get use their relentless pressure to generate some easy baskets, things could be real interesting at the KFC Yum Center. If those things don’t happen, Kentucky’s brand — which seems to get exponentially bigger every single day — will continue to grow thanks to another convincing victory over a legitimate opponent.

Dick Vitale

John Clay also has a roundup of over 80 local and national media picks for the game, including mine, Matt’s and Ryan Lemond’s. Only four people picked Louisville to win. FOUR! Out of eighty plus. Click here to check it out.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

24 Comments for What they’re saying about Kentucky/Louisville

  1. Sublem
    8:30 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    UL has the best back court? That’s the biggest joke I have ever heard.

    • BTownUKFan
      10:19 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      Agreed. I don’t know for sure where Rothstein pulled that from, but I have a pretty good idea. You could name a half dozen that are better shooters, better play makers and better defenders. I guess we’ll see tomorrow who has the best back court in Kentucky.

    • Sublem
      12:52 am December 27, 2014 Permalink

      I hope the twins, Booker, and Ulis make them look stooooopid

  2. Dave Ball
    8:40 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    UK 78 UL 62 …book it

    • Bobbum Man
      8:46 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      I like ur thinking… 82-65 is my number though

    • Time Expired
      9:36 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      I honestly do not see where UL will get 60 pts. They just do not have the numbers to score that much against the Cats unless they get crazy lucky from 3. Cats 84-58

  3. dudewheresmygillispie
    8:45 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    This is ridiculous. UK will win this easily. UL is not as good as last year and UK is a ton better. I was shocked the spread didn’t open at UK -8. I am kind of worried it opened at an even spread but feel better now that it has risen to -6. Unless something crazy happens this will be another beat down. UL isn’t the fourth best team in the country.

  4. Bobbum Man
    8:46 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    82-65 mark it down

  5. JVice
    8:47 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    Curry Kirkpatrick? Clay was scraping the bottom of the barrel there.

  6. Bobbum Man
    8:48 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    Is it just me or am i missing the hype with this UL team? Harrell frunt runner for POY? The guys a good player don’t get me wrong but POY? Best backcourt in the country? Just seems a bit much..:

    • Bobbum Man
      8:48 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      Front* I sincerely apologize to the grammar police

    • PhilUK18
      11:33 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      I sincerely agree. They’re a team that brings back like 70% (maybe? I don’t know) of a Sweet 16 team. Meaning, to me, that they’re decent but not great. Somehow the narrative has been written that they’re amazing now? I don’t get it. Whatever. Cats by 16 after letting up on the gas to end the game. It won’t be that close.

  7. RexRox
    9:03 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    Harrell is not even close to being the best the best player on the floor Saturday. And ul has the best back court?!? Please!!

    CATS WIN 76-49, and it’ll be over by the half!

    • HanOfTheBluegrass
      11:18 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      Harrell flexes and stares down opponents more than anyone else on the floor.

  8. Rise
    9:24 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    Close game throughout, Cats hit late FT’s to win 67-61

    • cats paw
      9:47 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      Refreshing to see a logical observer. It’s a 50/50 game with the winner being whichever team is hitting 3’s.

    • Rise
      10:20 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      I hope it is a blowout, but these games are always close. For once UL has size to somewhat match us in the front court. Not as talented but they could affect our bigs.

    • UK Big Board Update
      10:42 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      Noted for later use. 😉

    • UK Big Board Update
      10:46 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      I believe cats paw is implying that UofLoL is AS GOOD AS UK?!?

      He’s such a Tard fan, its so obvious.

      Yes, Dakari and Willie are concerned about Anus’s 7’0″, 200lb. frame. LMAO

    • Katya
      2:05 am December 27, 2014 Permalink

      cats paw is an obvious UL tardinal, it’s funny watching him troll and fail.

  9. Bobbum Man
    11:07 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    UL shoots 29% from 3s, only way I see us losing is someone drillin 3s all game on us. UL is not that team. ULs offense is bad, our defense is very very good… And yes ULs defense has been good this year, they’ve also defended nothing anything like this UK team

  10. HanOfTheBluegrass
    11:25 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

    If UK comes out cold, the game pace will be dictated by whether UL makes its shots. If UK comes out hot, this game will be more like Texas or UCLA than anyone in the media is expecting. UL’s defense has been good, but they’re about to play against a team that can still be a buzzsaw without scoring efficiency.

    If UL is allowed its hack-attack defense, this game will be close. Otherwise it will not be. The only way this one is in doubt is with major foul trouble for the Cats only and with UL shooting lights out against a sub-optimal UK lineup with guys playing more minutes than they’re used to (and thus running out of energy from playing at their normal higher intensity).

    And if refs call it fair, making UL pay for its handchecks and chippy play from outmatched “big men,” maybe even T up Harrell for one of his rim hangs or stare downs, look for the Cats to run away with it with steals and lobs. Then look for announcers to bemoan the refs not “letting them play” (which favors a fouling team like Louisville), and look for UL fans to blame refs for stealing 6 out of 7 games from the rightful winners in the righteous city of Louisville, bastion against racism and incest.

    • HanOfTheBluegrass
      11:26 pm December 26, 2014 Permalink

      I meant Kansas or UCLA. Though I’d be okay with a game result like Texas. At least it might mean Louisville got called for some of their fouls for once.

  11. Joanie
    12:39 am December 27, 2014 Permalink

    So…what does Jay Bilas say?