LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The novel coronavirus and uncooperative conference offices knocked the Kentucky-Louisville football game from the schedule in 2020.
Basketball has worked overtime to win against the virus. Even the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences couldn’t stop UK vs. U of L.
For the 42nd time since the teams met in Knoxville, Tennessee on March 26, 1983, the Wildcats and Cards will play at 1 p.m. Saturday in the KFC Yum! Center in front of about 3,000 fans.
Odds are you won’t be traveling downtown. Here are the important things to remember:
1. Time: 1 p.m., Saturday, KFC Yum! Center.
2. Where to Watch/Listen: TV — 1 p.m., ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale) Radio — Kentucky, 840 WHAS (Tom Leach, Mike Pratt); Louisville, 790 WKRD (Paul Rogers, Bob Valvano).
3. The Line: Kentucky favored by 4 1/2 points at VegasInsiders; Over/Under (total points) 133 1/2.
4. The Analytics: Ken Pomeroy — U of L 69, UK 65; Bart Torvik — U of L 69, UK 65; Jeff Sagarin — Louisville by 6.01.
5. The Last Time: Kentucky defeated the Cards for the third consecutive season and 11th time in 13 tries, surviving with a 78-70 overtime victory in Rupp Arena. Tyrese Maxey scored 27 to lead the Wildcats. With Keion Brooks injured and unlikely to play, Kentucky does not have any players who scored in that game. Neither does Louisville, which didn’t get any points from Samuell Williamson or David Johnson last season.
6. The Records: For the first time in more than 90 years, Kentucky has lost an epic five straight after defeating Morehead State in its opener. Louisville bounced back from a 37-point loss at Wisconsin last Saturday to win by 10 at Pittsburgh to improve to 5-1.
7. Kentucky Storylines: John Calipari recruited a sports psychologist this week to work with his players on their confidence and outlook for the remainder of the season. He appointed a three-player leadership group to handle issues with attitude and commitment within the locker room. He also sent Cam’Ron Fletcher home to St. Louis with the directive to reassess his attitude before Fletcher decided if he wants to finish the season with the Wildcats.
What Calipari really needs is Point Guard Doctor. The Wildcats have totaled 85 turnovers with only 51 assists in their five-game losing streak.
8. Louisville Storylines: If Louisville is not going to beat Calipari and Kentucky this season, when is it going to happen? As his friends privately promised he would, Calipari has owned the Cards over 13 games, winning 11 times, including twice in the NCAA Tournament. Louisville’s only two victories were by three points. Losing to Calipari was one of Rick Pitino’s greatest frustrations. Chris Mack has lost both game against UK.
With Carlik Jones and David Johnson directing the backcourt, the Cards have a solid edge at guard for the first time in years. Jones (16 points per game) and Johnson (13) are Louisville’s leading scorers and need to play at that level.
9. The Kentucky quote from John Calipari: “They’ve got a young team, too. They’ve got inexperience like we do. So they’ve played better than we have. No question about it. They’ve been more specific in how they’re playing, mostly though (Carlik) Jones and putting him in pick and rolls and doing stuff with him. But everybody on that team has accepted their role. We’re trying trying to figure out who is who right now.”
10. The Louisville quote from Carlik Jones: “As far as this rivalry I know that both teams really want to win. Both teams really going to want bragging rights. And, and it's hard, but it’s also doable, as far as with the feelings. Just going in, you have to you have to treat it like a regular game. You have to treat it like a normal basketball game going in. Can't let your emotions really get to you, because it can cost you, it can hurt you or it can sometimes help. I don't think that's a chance you will want to take. I just think you should go in with the same mentality with every game and do what your team does best.”
11. The picks:
Tom Lane: Kentucky 75, Louisville 70 — Cats use annual rivalry matchup to get well and inject hope into their season. Cards miss inside presence of Malik Williams against taller Cats.
Aaron Matas: In 2020, the frustrating script that Louisville fans have endured finally flips. Josh Nickleberry hits 5 threes and the Cards get the breakout performance that leads to a 77-71 win.
Eric Crawford: Louisville 68, Kentucky 66. Gut says Kentucky pulls some things together for this one but going to have to see it first.
Rick Bozich: Last year I said that I was never going to pick Louisville to win the game again until the Cardinals showed me they could win this game. Ooops. Then Kentucky started 1-5 and showed signs of back guard play and bad chemistry. So make it Louisville 68-63.
Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.