LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville will be favored to beat Kentucky on Dec. 29.
Save your nasty notes or love letters.
Or send them to Jeff Sagarin, Erik Haslam, Bart Torvik, the NCAA and other creators of the six college basketball computer rankings that featured Chris Mack’s team ranked ahead of John Calipari’s team Thursday.
No misfire. I said six of seven power formulas rank the Cardinals ahead of the Wildcats.
Calipari should send a fruit basket to Ken Pomeroy ASAP. Of the seven computer rankings I checked, Pomeroy’s formula was the only one that had Kentucky ranked ahead of Louisville on Thursday.
Even that came with fine print. Over the last 10 days, the script has flipped. Pomeroy’s formula now projects the Cardinals to defeat the Wildcats, 75-74.
I know, these are just computer numbers. They guarantee nothing. Reasonable question:
Why are they more impactful Thursday than they were four, six or eight weeks ago when Kentucky was ranked miles ahead of Louisville? If they weren’t accurate then, why would they be accurate now?
But here is a better question: What has changed?
You know the list. The Wildcats were run out of Bankers Life Fieldhouse by Duke. The Blue Devils beat Kentucky by 34 but only beat Yale by 33, Hartford by 33 and Army by 22.
Louisville won on Seton Hall’s home court in Newark by five. Kentucky lost to Seton Hall by one in overtime on a neutral court in Manhattan.
Louisville has three wins against Top-75 opponents in Pomeroy’s rankings. Kentucky does not have any.
Kentucky has an issue with turnovers. The Wildcats have lost the ball on more than 20 percent of their possessions, ranking No. 262 in turnover percentage.
Their three-point defense also must improve. Through nine games, opposing teams have made a ridiculous 40 percent of their shots from distance.
Here is a factor the computers are unlikely to quantify: Louisville is no longer coached by a guy who breaks out in a rash and hyperventilates at the idea of trying to defeat Kentucky.
For eight seasons, Calipari took up so much space in Rick Pitino’s psyche that Calipari paid property tax.
The final tally was Calipari 8, Pitino 2, but that scoreboard remains an inadequate way to capture Calipari’s dominance. UK’s average margin of victory during that stretch was close to eight points per game while Louisville defeated Kentucky by three and three.
Remember last Dec. 29?
The primary takeaway from the game the teams played last season in Rupp Arena was Louisville was likely to struggle to make the NCAA Tournament. The 29-point defeat was the largest margin of the 14 games the Cardinals lost in 2017-18.
More than a month into this season, the numbers from the computer power formulas have tilted decisively toward Mack’s 7-3 squad.
The NCAA’s newly created NET formula, which will be used by the Tournament Selection Committee when they select and seed the field in March, ranks Louisville No. 20, 19 spots ahead of Kentucky.
Jeff Sagarin’s Predictor formula has Louisville ranked 21st, Kentucky 30th.
Bart Torvik’s formula makes it Louisville No. 26, Kentucky No. 30.
Erik Haslam has Louisville 31st, Kentucky 75th.
Kevin Pauga likes Louisville more than any formula, raking the Cardinals 14th, ahead of Indiana, Auburn, North Carolina and others, while placing Kentucky 73rd.
In the old school Ratings Percentage Index, which the NCAA has dropped but lives on at other web sites, Louisville is No. 16, Kentucky No. 126.
Pomeroy remains the primary holdout for the Wildcats, ranking Kentucky No. 18 with Louisville No. 40.
But, as I noted earlier, even Pomeroy’s numbers have trended toward Mack’s team. Kentucky began the season ranked No. 6. Louisville started the season ranked No. 63.
Kentucky has two games to get it right: in Rupp Arena Saturday when Utah visits and Dec. 22 when the Wildcats play North Carolina in Chicago.
But even if they do, the prediction here is that Louisville, not Kentucky, will be favored when the teams gather at the KFC Yum! Center on Dec. 29.
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