BOZICH | Why Is Kentucky The Underdog After Beating Louisville?
INDIANAPOLIS (WDRB) – Kentucky beat Louisville by seven points only three months ago on a day when Julius Randle lost a battle with cramps for most of the second half.
The Wildcats just played their best game of the season while toppling a Wichita State team that had won its first 35 games.
Kentucky is two, three, four inches taller than the Cardinals at nearly every position.
So why are the Wildcats listed as a 4 1/2-point underdog for the game Kentucky and Louisville will play Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium?
The number started at 5. It's been as much as 5-1/2 and made a brief stop at 4. On Thursday morning it has appeared to settle at 4-1/2.
I asked Brian Edwards, of BrianEdwardsSports.com. His work appears at VegasInsider.com. Edwards replied to my questions by e-mail.
"Looks like most books started at five on Sunday night, a few briefly touched 5.5 early (Tuesday) but most down to 4.5 by late (Tuesday) night or early (Wednesday) morning," Edwards wrote.
"I think five is the right number. My guess is that it will bounce around from 4.5 to 5 between now and tip, but I won't be shocked if it gets down to four. I don't see it going any lower than 4 or higher than 5.
"If memory serves, when you asked me about this game in December, I was both right and wrong. I was wrong in that I told you I thought the line would be UK favored by 4, but U of L was actually favored -- I see Cardinals closed -1.5 but w/o going back and looking, I think U of L was favored by 2 or 3 initially. I was right in that my number (4) was the correct one since 'Cats actually won by more than that (73-66).
"U of L has won 14 of its last 15 and in the lone defeat, it let an eight-point lead get away in the final 4-5 minutes at Memphis. Of those 14 wins, 12 have come by double-digit margins w/ one-point win at Cincy & seven-point 'W' over Manhattan serving as only exceptions.
"The odds makers aren't putting a ton of stock into the previous result since that game was at Rupp and Rupp is one of (the) bigger (if not biggest) home-court advantages in the country, and now this game is a neutral site.
"Cats have lost outright in five of seven games as underdogs this year, going 3-3-1 against the spread. They beat Wichita St. and Louisville -- lost 3 times to Florida, once at Arky & at UNC."
Indeed. But hasn't Kentucky looked improved the last two weekends, winning easily in two Southeastern Conference Tournament games, taking Florida to the last possession and then toppling Wichita State?
"Cats definitely playing their best ball of the year and U of L failed to cover against Manhattan and even though it covered against Saint Louis, sloppy/ugly game," Edwards wrote. "But I ignore that -- Louisville's defense was great against S-Louis and Cards won big despite poor shooting game."
One final thing: Are the lines influenced by the computer rankings?
Ken Pomeroy's numbers have it Louisville, 73-68, putting the Cards win probability at 70 percent. Jeff Sagarin's predictor numbers forecast Louisville by 6.05 points.
"I don't look at the computer numbers very often," Edwards wrote.
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