Bluegrass Showdown: A Look at Kentucky-Louisville

Kentucky Wildcats at Louisville Cardinals, KFC YUM! Center, Louisville, KY
Friday, December 31, 2010, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Louisville -2
Current Line; Louisville -2
Opening Total: 145
Current Total: 144 1/2
Money Line: Louisville -130 / Kentucky +110

Terrence Jennings and the Louisville Cardinals take on arch-rival the Kentucky Wildcats, The Cardinals are a slight favorite at home.

The 12th ranked 10-2 Kentucky Wildcats travel to their in-state rival the 20th ranked 11-1 Louisville Cardinals. The last time these two teams played it was an extremely rough game marred by 51 fouls and 5 technicals. Kentucky ended up winning 71-62 in Lexington but the game was more like roller derby or a WWE battle royal. Part of the reason for that is the hatred Kentucky fans, coaches, players, and administration have for former Kentucky coach Rick Pitino who is now the coach of the hated Cardinals. Also, there is no love lost between Pitino and Kentucky coach John Calipari. Both coachesĀ  expect a better, less malicious game this time around though the hatred is just as intense. Both teams are talented but lack the depth to get into a war of attrition like last year’s game turned into. Kentucky only dresses 10 players and usually only plays 7 of them. Kentucky has losses to Connecticut in the Championship game of the Maui Invitational and a 2 point loss at North Carolina. Kentucky has wins over Oklahoma and Washington in Maui, along with victories over Notre Dame and Indiana on the season. Louisville has a loss to Drexel on the season, but the schedule hasn’t been that tough to start the season. The Cardinals do have victories over Butler and UNLV, who were both ranked in the top 25 when Louisville played them.

Kentucky is outscoring opponents 81-63 on the season. Kentucky is a very young team with 5 freshmen among the 10 players on the roster. Four Wildcats score in double figures. Freshman forward Terrance Jones leads the team in scoring with 18.2 ppg, rebounds with 9.3 a game, and blocks with 1.9 a game. He is also tied for the team lead in steals with 1.3 a game. Point guard Brandon Knight is also a freshman and scores 17.4 ppg and leads the team in assists with 3.9 a game. Freshman shooting guard Doron Lamb is scoringĀ  14.4 ppg. Junior Guard DeAndre Liggins scores 10.3 ppg and averages 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game. He is tied with Jones for the team lead in steals with Jones. Kentucky is shooting 46.4% from the field and 41.2% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are holding opponents to 37.8% shooting from the field. The Wildcats are shooting 68.7% from the free throw line. Kentucky averages 41.2 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +7.3. The Wildcats are averaging 13.3 assists and 11 turnovers a game. They force 12.4 turnovers a game on defense. Kentucky averages 5.7 steals and 6.6 blocks a game.

Louisville has much more depth than Kentucky. They use a 10 man rotation and have a roster of 14 players. They are also very young, as they have only one senior on the roster and 9 of the 14 are freshmen or sophomores. Louisville is outscoring opponents 84-61 on the season. Senior guard Preston Knowles leads the team in scoring wiht 15.2 ppg. Knowles also averages 3.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.7 steals a game. He is deadly from beyond the 3 point line, shooting 40.5% from long distance. Sophomore point guard Peyton Siva leads the team in assists with 4.9 a game and steals with 2.3 a game. He is also scoring 11.5 points a game. Junior forward Terrance Jennings leads the team in blocks with 2.3 a game. He is averaging 9.6 ppg and 5.3 rpg. Sophomore forward Rakeem Buckles leads the team in rebounds with 7.5 a game. The Cardinals are shooting 48.1% from the field, and 37.5% from 3 point range. Cardinal opponents are shooting 37.3% from the field. The Cardinals make 65.9% of their free throws. Louisville averages 39.6 rebounds and have a rebounding margin of +4.4. Louisville averages 18.8 assists and 14.1 turnovers a game. Louisville forces 19 turnovers a game on defense. The Cardinals average 10.7 steals and 6.3 blocks a game.

Both of these teams have enough talent to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Once again Kentucky has recruited a slew of one and done players who will be playing in the NBA next season, assuming there is no lockout. Kentucky must protect the ball as Louisville is very adept at forcing turnovers. Both teams have no problem running and will be comfortable playing in the 70’s or even the 80’s. This should be a great game and CBS is showing it on New Year’s Eve just before the Sun Bowl between Miami and Notre Dame.

Our college basketball handicappers are red hot this season. Have a prosperous 2011 with out handicappers and celebrate the New Year in style!

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