One of the top rivalries in college basketball and maybe all of sports — Kentucky vs. Louisville — will take place Saturday in a 2020 finale for both teams as they look to cross the year-end finish line with some momentum. For Kentucky, that would look like a road win over its in-state rival after dropping its fifth consecutive game of the young season last week. And for Louisville, that would look like kicking UK while its on its knees stumbling to stand up.
The Wildcats have been close, losing two of their five games by a single possession. But John Calipari’s undertaking one of his tallest tasks to date with an inexperienced, incohesive unit that can’t quite seem to gel. UK is 1-5 — the worst start for the program since 1926-27 — and now heads on the road to a venue where Calipari is barely above .500 (3-2) since taking over the Wildcats. Things very easily could get worse before they get better.
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- When: Saturday, 1 p.m. ET
- Where: KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky
- TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Kentucky: A dreadful start for Kentucky only got worse last week when Calipari announced that true freshman Cam Fletcher was being asked to step away from the team for his behavior during the team’s loss to North Carolina. There’s problems on the court and in the locker room that are plaguing this team, and with no end in sight, either. The good news: There’s talent aplenty. True freshmen BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke have both shown some flashes of brilliance, and transfers Olivier Sarr and Davion Mintz have grown into indispensable options. Perhaps a week off the court will have done this team some good, because this weekslong funk is something this young team can’t seem to shake.
Louisville: The Cardinals are off to a 5-1 start after their 64-54 victory Tuesday at Pittsburgh in their ACC opener. The only blemish on Louisville’s record is its 85-48 loss earlier this month at Wisconsin. Carlik Jones, a transfer from Radford, needs three assists to reach 500 for his career and leads the ACC in assists with 5.6 per game, but did not play last game vs. Wisconsin. The Cardinals have lost the last four games vs. Kentucky.
Game prediction, pick
It’s perhaps easy to buy into the fact that Kentucky had a week to try and tinker ahead of this game, and that Louisville, a week removed from an 85-48 beatdown at the hands of Wisconsin, may be susceptible to laying down here. Yet it’s important to remember that Carlik Jones, Louisville’s best player, did not play in the Wisconsin game. The Cards are 5-0 this season when he plays. I like their chances a lot against a UK team that can’t get much going on offense right now and can’t seem to buy momentum right now. This Wildcats team is a total mess from a roster standpoint and they really aren’t clicking. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a lopsided outcome. Prediction: Louisville 72, Kentucky 56
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