College Basketball Picks: Louisville Cardinals vs. Kentucky Wildcats

No. 4 Louisville Cardinals at No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats
Saturday, 12/31/11, 12:00 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Kentucky -10.5
Current Betting Line:  Kentucky -9.5
Opening Total:  135
Current Total:  135
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Kentucky Wildcats are nearly double-digit favorites against the Louisville Cardinals Saturday

Louisville plays its final non-conference game in traveling to Lexington, Ky and playing inside Rupp Arena.  The Cardinals are coming off a 71-68 defeat to the Georgetown Hoyas as 6.5-point home favorites.  “I think Kentucky is the better basketball team right now,” commented Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino.  “Running up and down and trying to outscore Kentucky would be a futile attempt to try and get a W.”  The program has produced a 12-1 record after 13 games for the third time under Pitino’s direction.  Louisville is 8-6 ATS as an underdog the last two-plus years.

The Cardinals are 14-28 all-time in this series, splitting the last four meetings, but dropped a 78-63 contest as three-point home favorites on Dec. 31, 2010.  Louisville is seeking its first victory in this series since Jan. 4, 2009.  The first half figures to be very important in this matchup, as the Cardinals have scored 40 or more points in the first 20 minutes in four of their last eight games.  It’s a very balanced attack with this squad, as six players are averaging at least 8.7 points per game.

Kentucky has six players averaging double-figures and is led by Doron Lamb’s 15.8-point average.  The Wildcats will also put their 43-game home winning streak on the line inside Saturday’s venue, as current head coach John Calipari has never lost in front of the home faithful in Lexington.  “We don’t send Christmas cards, but we’re cordial to each other,” commented Calipari about his relationship with Pitino.  Kentucky ranks third in the country in outscoring opponents by 23.5 points per game on average.  Over the last two-plus seasons, the team is 1-3 ATS as a home favorite of 9.5 to 12 points.

The Wildcats are 9-0 at home this season and own the nation’s longest home-winning streak.  Kentucky has tremendous talent on the roster and four true freshman are among the team’s top seven scorers.  Center Anthony Davis is also someone to watch in the paint, averaging a double-double and leads the team in grabbing 10.2 rebounds per game.  Kentucky is 161-68 all-time against teams from the Bluegrass State.

Bettors will likely back the Wildcats due to their 16-7-1 ATS mark versus Big East opponents, while the Cardinals are 1-5 ATS versus SEC foes.

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