Down the stretch they come…


Down the stretch they come is the most exciting phrase in horse racing… In that stretch run, the athlete has to be at peak performance as this is the toughest part of the race. This Louisville Basketball team is coming down the stretch run of their schedule. It will be pretty exciting. And it will be the toughest part of the season for this group.

After tonight the final 10 games of the season will include a game with #9 UNC, #2 Duke, Two games with #3 UVA, a game with #12 VT, a game with #25 FSU… and game at Syracuse. Cuse isn’t ranked but there aren’t any easy ones at the Carrier Dome in late February. Folks this is a stretch run. We are going to really find out what this team is made of over the next few weeks.

Tonight will feature teams going in different directions in the ACC. Wake Forest has lost six of their last seven games and has been dismal on the offensive end of the floor shooting just 38% from the field in their last five games. It’s hard to make any kind of argument for the Demon Deacons in this game other than they have the home court.

In contrast, our Cardinals enter this game playing their best ball of the season and are shooting 46.7% from the field while winning by an average of 16.2 points during their five-game winning streak. Louisville is outscoring teams by an average of 10 points on the road this season. The Cardinals have won three of their last five road games.

I don’t know what is going to happen as this team faces the toughest part of their schedule after tonight. But it has been fun up to this point and I’d like to believe that Coach Mack has been building these guys for the stretch run. I’m looking forward to it.

Should be another big win tonight. Enjoy it, folks. Go Cards!

GOCARDS.COM GAMEDAY BREAKDOWN

Cards Return Home as a Top 25 team



For the first time in a long time, our Cardinals have made their way back into the AP Top 25 as the 23rd ranked team in the country. They will play the 17th ranked NC State Wolfpack tonight at the Yum Center.

This Louisville team has been rolling thru the Conference Schedule winning 4 of their 5 ACC games so far by double-digits. They have done that with great offensive play. This Louisville team can score points in a hurry bringing back the ”boom” we had learned to love. They are currently ranked #46 in the country in scoring offense.

They have also done it by taking better care of the basketball. This team was a turnover machine during the first part of the season but have now become one of the better teams in the country at not giving away the ball. The Cardinals are ranked #68 in the country in Fewest Turnovers.

This group had to learn a whole new defense this season under Coach Mack and it has taken them a little longer to come together on that end of the floor. But during this current 3 game winning streak, they have seen those numbers come up. Now up to 105th in Field Goal % defense and 127th in Three Point Field Goal %. I’m excited to see this team when the lights really come on.

It’ll take a good defensive effort tonight against a good Wolfpack team. As a team, NC State is averaging the 6th-most points per game in the country, putting up 86.7 points per game, shooting 49.4% from the field, 38.1% from 3-point range and 69.8% from the foul line this season.

This NC State team is hard to defend 17th in assists per game and do a great job at giving themselves second-chance points. They hit the glass. They are ranked 10th in the country in Rebound Margin. They will get after the Cardinals on defense as well ranked 10th in Turnovers Forced.

It should be a great game between two well-coached and scrappy ACC teams. If this Louisville team plays as they have been they shouldn’t have any problem taking care of business. They can’t afford a slow start tonight either. Especially as efficient as the Wolfpack is on offense.

Enjoy it, folks! Go Cards!

GOCARDS.COM GAMEDAY BREAKFOWN

Cards have hit a Wall…


You might be able to relate more to this year’s team than you think… One of the most popular New Years resolutions is to start working out and going to the gym. I have made that resolution in the past. You start working out see some results but after about a month those gains slow down and so does the drive. You hit that wall.

This Louisville Basketball team had nowhere to go but up when Chris Mack and his staff got to campus. They were energized by the change and you could see some of the results immediately. The new season gets started and this team appeared to be making some great strides. They beat Michigan State, Seton Hall and demolished Central Arkansas. Then they take that trip to Bloomington. This is the game where I believe this team hit its wall. They haven’t played a really solid game since especially on the defensive side of the ball.

I’m sure it was exciting for the guys learning some new stuff and getting to do something new every day in practice. But the honeymoon is over. Now it’s all becoming more routine. The grind of a College Basketball season has set in. These guys are now competing against the opponent and themselves. Coach Mack mentioned the lack of effort on defense in his pre-game press conference today. It takes digging deep to play that slap the floor defense every trip down the floor.

In that solid three-game stretch I mentioned above the Cards averaged 3 blocks, 5 steals, 12 turnovers forced and 12.6 points off those turnovers. In the last three games they have averaged 2.6 blocks, 2.6 steals, 11.3 turnovers forced, and only 10.3 points off of those turnovers. You can see how those important defensive numbers have dropped off a bit. And the ”defensive kills” that Coach Mack preaches have also dropped off. They had 8 kills in that great win against Seton Hall I think they might have had 1 maybe 2 against Pitt on Wednesday.

This North Carolina team presents a match-up problem with most teams they play due to their length and athletic ability. The Cardinals are going to have to play great in transition defense and limit the Tar Heels in their fast break points. And they must have a good day on the glass just to be able to stay in this game. UNC has scored 280 points off turnovers and average 18.7 points a game off turnovers. They have 205 fast break points this season averaging 13.7 fast break points a game. That’s 32.4 points a game off of those opportunities. Cards have to limit these opportunities.

Even slowing that part of the UNC game plan they still have some pretty good players to stop. Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, and Cameron Johnson are one of the best trios in all of college hoops. They each have their names at the top of every statistical category at UNC. If these three guys have a great day it won’t be a good one for Louisville.

I’m not too concerned with this Louisville team on offense. I think we have enough firepower to compete with anyone. But this team has been too careless with the ball on the offensive end of the floor. In the games against Mich St, Seton Hall and Central Arkansas the Cardinals had 36 turnovers. They had 18 turnovers in the last game alone. The turnover bug has bit this team all season. If they turn the ball over Saturday they will get run…

All of this talk of walls in the news lately… The only wall I’m worried about is the one this Louisville team is facing. This team has done some things wrong but they have never given up. Not last year, not this year. I love this Louisville group. All of the adversity these young guys have faced and they stuck it out. I will be behind them win or lose.

Hope they can find a way Saturday. A lot of things gotta go right to win on the road. Especially at the Dean Dome. Go Cards!

GOCARDS.COM GAMEDAY PREVIEW

Cards take a trip to the Zoo…


The name “Oakland Zoo” is used for the basketball student cheering sections at the Petersen Events Center. The Oakland Zoo has been noted as being one of the most formidable students cheering sections in college basketball. But over the years Louisville has turned it into a Petting Zoo on their visits. The Cardinal’s are 7-1 in that gym in a series they have pretty much dominated owning a 16-5 series advantage. The 12 game winning streak over the Panthers is one of the longest in the ACC.

In saying all of that I am cautiously optimistic for tonight’s game. Every dog or in this case Cat has their day. This is a tough schedule spot for the Cardinals with another road game at UNC to follow. This Pittsburgh program is starting to get some of its mojo back since the hire of first-year coach Jeff Capel. He has this Pitt team scrapping on the defensive side of the Basketball and they’ve been a competitive bunch this season.

About that defense… Pitt ranks third in the ACC and 11th nationally in field goal percentage defense (.378). The Panthers have held seven opponents below 40.0 percent shooting from the field. They’ve been an even better defensive team at home allowing 63 points on 37.6 percent shooting.

The Cardinals are going to need some of the offensive outburst they had in the last game tonight. They are averaging 79.4 points on 45.1 percent shooting coming into this one.
Jordan Nwora has been the most consistent offensive player we’ve had this season averaging 17.9 points a game. Think he is the difference maker tonight. Pitt is going to have a hard time matching up with him. But as good as Pitt’s been defensively Louisville has to have some other guys step up.

I think that Ryan McMahon could be a guy to watch tonight. He’s coming off a good game on Sunday and seems to have some of the confidence back. And think VJ is due for a good one. His athleticism could be really effective tonight, especially around the rim. Throw it up and if you miss let him go get em and put them back in. I think we are on to something there. Dude has putbacks like no other.

I like the Cards defensively in this one. I think things are starting to click more on that end of the floor. They were very active and communicative on Sunday. Especially in the second half. Five of Pitt’s top six scorers are newcomers with first-year players accounting for 67.2 percent (717-of-1066) of the team’s scoring on the season. So if our Cardinals lockdown on the young fellas they should be able to win the battle on this end.

Like I mentioned above. This one has me nervous. I think it ends up being a defensive battle. And on the road in those types of games advantage usually goes to the home team. I’m just hoping that the petting Zoo doesn’t bite back in this one tonight. Hoping for the win but really wouldn’t be shocked if it was a tough loss. This game is an important big picture game with a battle at UNC looming.
Enjoy Folks!

Go Cards!

GOCARDS.COM GAMEDAY BREAKDOWN

One Final Tune-up…


This is a great time of the season for college basketball coaches. It’s their chance to get their guys in the gym for an extended amount of time. Coach Mack has had his Cardinals inside his lab putting them thru the final touch-ups before they head into the meat of their schedule.

You might recognize the team inside the Yum Center on Friday night. It’s the Robert Morris program that made it to the second round of the NIT after beating Kentucky back in 2013. This isn’t the same kind of Colonials team that pulled of that memorable butt kicking but I expect them to come into this game and play hard.

They do have a pretty good senior guard running their offense. Senior guard Josh Williams leads Robert Morris in scoring at 17.4 points per game and is fourth in the nation in three-point field goals made per game (4.36) and 34th nationally in three-point percentage (.471). This is a team that lines to chuck it up from the cheap seats. Almost half of their shots taken this season have been from the three-point line. On defense, they’ll try to put pressure up front to turn the ball over. They do rank in the top 50 nationally in turnovers forced.

I don’t think this game will be close. But I do hope to see a solid fundamental game from the Cardinals. These guys have had rep after rep during all of the extra time in the gym and that should translate into some solid basketball on both sides of the ball tonight. This team really needs to make their biggest strides on the defensive side of the ball. Coach made a comment at the last post game press conference that he had some things they were putting in on defense but jokingly said: ”I’m not going to give any of that away here”. You best believe that with the extra gym time he is going to have this team where they need to be when Kentucky comes to town next weekend.

Feels like forever since we’ve had a game so it will be good to see some Cardinal Basketball tonight. I hope they put this one away fast and some of the guys who don’t usually see the court much can finish this one out. And I want to hear those chants of ”Beat UK” ringing thru the Yum Center. Final tune-up tonight folks. Then business will pick up fast. Enjoy it! Go Cards!

L’s Up!

GoCards.com Game Breakdown

First Road game for Mack Attack


With the first signature win under their belt, our Cardinals will now hit the road for the first true road game of the season. The Cardinals come into this one with a 4-2 record after that big 82-78 overtime win over Michigan State in their last outing. They will face a Seton Hall team that has won three straight. And they are coming off a big game of their own with an 83-81 win over Miami.

Seton Hall was one of the teams that beat Louisville last season at the Yum Center. After losing three program changing players this Seton Hall team will look different but Kevin Willard has established some consistency in that program and they still got some very good players and a winning system in place.

The Louisville defense was able to slow down one of the best backcourt duos in the country in the last game. They face another pretty good one in New Jersey tomorrow. Myles Powell who leads their team in scoring had a 40 point game and scoring record in the Wooden Legacy. Quincy McKnight is also a double-digit scorer and the straw that stirs the drink averaging 3 assist a game.

Not only will these guards try to extend the Cards defense this Seton Hall team always has those good wing players who can create their own offense. Those guys this year are Michael Nzei who had a big 21 point game against Miami and Sandro Mamukelashvili who can hit three-point shots and leads Seton Hall on the glass with 7.7 rebounds per game this season. As a team, Seton Hall is averaging 73.2 points per game on 45.9% shooting from the field, 30.3% from behind the arc and 68.1% from the foul line.

Our Cardinals have been a great offensive team during the first few weeks of the college basketball season. They are ranked 30th in the country in scoring offense. They’ve had some great production out of guys that were a little unexpected. Akoy Agau has been the biggest surprise with the effort he brings and Dwayne Sutton’s intensity has really paid off.

The thing that has really made a difference for this team is their ability to get to the free-throw line and to make their shots when they get there. The Cardinals currently rank 25th in the country shooting 76.5% from the line while ranking 6th in the country in Free throws attempted and free throws made. This could be the recipe for a big road win on Saturday afternoon.

Coach Mack is no stranger to Seton Hall. He got two big wins over them last season as the Xavier head man. I think he’ll have the Cardinals ready for this game. Seton Hall has had trouble at times this season scoring. Don’t think they’ll be able to keep pace with our guys. Looking forward to seeing how our guys respond after the last one.

L’s Up!

GoCards.com Breakdown:
https://gocards.com/news/2018/11/30/mens-basketball-cardinals-will-face-seton-hall-in-first-true-road-game.aspx

The Grind Continues Tonight for Mack Attack


The Grind Continues Tonight for Mack Attack

This Louisville Basketball schedule is going to end up one of the toughest in the country and maybe the toughest when all is said and done. The grind continues tonight with Michigan State coming to town. With the grind another opportunity for a big win.

Izzo has another good basketball team. The Spartans have won 4 straight after that opening loss against Kansas. They beat a decent UCLA team and Texas team during that stretch. Our Cardinals will face the best backcourt duo they will play all season tonight. In their last game against Texas Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston accounted for 49 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists. These guys have played side by side for over 70 games. I think they even room together. To say they have on-court chemistry is an understatement.

In saying that I think the obvious key to a big win tonight is trying to neutralize those guys and force the other guys around them to make some plays to beat you. But it’s not just about the scoring on their end that concerns me. This Louisville team enters this game with 3 guys Nwora, Perry, and Enoch averaging in double figures. VJ King was another but has dropped below that average. This group is at its best when they are all contributing consistently.

I don’t think you’ll see this Louisville team win many games with just one or two guys pulling the weight. In the Marquette loss, Louisville’s top scorer was Christen Cunningham with 16 points, three assists, and two rebounds. The only other Cardinal in double-figures there was Jordan Nwora, with 15 points and seven rebounds. This team has to play with a balanced attack to win games. Especially this game tonight. Tough, Together…

If the Cardinals can play some solid defense and hold their guards in check along with having a balanced attack on the offensive end of the court I can see us coming up with a big win tonight. But all of that is much easier said than done. I’m interested in seeing how our guys come out tonight after that gut-wrencher against Marquette. Can’t let one tough loss drag into the next one. Was something that was an issue last season. Gotta be Unbreakable.

Looking forward to this one. L’s Up!

GoCards.com Preview:
https://gocards.com/news/2018/11/26/mens-basketball-cardinals-face-no-11-michigan-state-in-the-acc-big-ten-challenge-on-tuesday-night.aspx

Louisville Basketball will be a fun Rollercoaster


This Louisville Basketball season will be like a fun rollercoaster ride.

That loss on Wednesday was one that didn’t really seem like a loss at all. Our guys came out playing inspired basketball and gave the #5 team in the country all they wanted. This Louisville team is going to win some big games this season but it won’t be without the growing pains. Learning and adapting to a new style of play, learning a new defense and just learning how to win close games will all be a part of it.

I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face on Wednesday night. Just the offensive prowess of this Louisville group is enough alone to be optimistic. Tennessee came into that game allowing just under 60 points a game and our Cardinals put up 81 on them. It was defense and turnovers that ultimately cost the Cards. Louisville shot 44.1% from the field and 39.3% from beyond the arc, however, allowed Tennessee to shoot 54.0% from the field in the loss. Louisville was outrebounded by Tennessee by a 38-32 margin and lost the turnover battle by a 14-10 margin.

Tonight an old rivalry will be renewed as the Cards take on Marquette in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off. The defense will once again be the biggest concern for our Cardinals as they come into this game ranked just 231st in scoring defense and 256th in defensive FG%. Marquette is averaging 74.8 ppg on 44.0% shooting from the field. The Golden Eagles are averaging 10.0 three-pointers per game on 36.2% shooting from beyond the arc. They have a couple of guys who can really light it up.

I don’t think they will pose as big of a threat on the inside as Tennessee did but like Tennessee, they can attack from all levels. Our guys will have to be tougher on this end of the floor and again try not to be careless with the ball on the offensive end. Turnovers also a big part of early season basketball.

Jordan Nwora is going to be one of the best players on the floor in every game Louisville plays this season. But has to cut down on those turnovers. It really does neutralize his game. Akoy Agau was a nice surprise in the last game. If Louisville can get that kind of effort from him moving forward it will be a big help to our frontcourt depth. Looking forward to seeing what his follow up performance is tonight.

It’s going to be a roller coaster type season but a fun rollercoaster, not the scary kind. I think we will enjoy watching this team learn and grow over the course of it. I’m looking forward to another step along that journey tonight. Go Cards!

L’s Up!

GoCards.com Game Preview:
https://gocards.com/news/2018/11/22/mens-basketball-cardinals-face-marquette-on-friday-night.aspx

The 50th Meeting Between the Cards & Cats


We are just a few weeks removed from the Cats and Cards doing battle on the gridiron to end the regular season of college football. On Wednesday night they will take the battle to the basketball court. This week we have flown our flags a little higher and wore our gear with that little extra boost of pride. This is the Cards and the Cats and it just doesn’t get any bigger in college basketball.

“Two elite teams meet once again, eternal bragging rights (at least for another year) Hall of Fame coaches who can’t stand each other. It’s not always a pretty watch, but it’s compelling TV and the best soap opera in the sport at the moment.” -Sports Illustrated

It is the eve of one of the best rivalries in college sports… If you grew up in the state of Kentucky then you chose your side very early in your life. I was singing the Louisville fight song to my son on the night he was born. I picked a side 30 years ago and have never regretted my decision. I love my Cardinals and I love this rivalry. Rivalries are what define sports and every competition needs a great rivalry. We have one of the best rivalries in all of sports and it deserves the credit. The Rivalry has given us many enjoyable moments and now it’s time to have another.

This will again be a highly anticipated Battle of the Bluegrass with both teams ranked within the top 10. It has been the Cats who have won the last 8 out of 10 in this battle head-to-head including 4 straight, but when looking at their entire body of work these teams have had similar success in the last 30 years. A series that started in 1913 these old rivals will meet for the 50th time on Wednesday night. Kentucky holds the all-time lead in this series 34-15.

NCAA Final Fours

Kentucky – 17 (Tied 2nd all-time)

Louisville – 10 (Tied 6th all-time)

NCAA Tournament Championships

Kentucky – 8 (2nd all-time)

Louisville – 3 (Tied 7th all-time)

NCAA Tournament Appearances

Kentucky – 54 (1st all-time)

Louisville – 41 (5th all-time)

Kentucky beat North Carolina 103-100 in Las Vegas in its last game as Malik Monk scored a UK freshman record 47 points and De’Andre Fox totaled 24 points and 10 assists. The Wildcats are among the top five nationally in scoring (3rd in the nation, 95.2 ppg), assists (4th, 19.9 apg), scoring margin (4th, +23.5), offensive rebounds (5th, 15.7 per game), and blocked shots (5th, 7.1 bpg). Fox is eighth in the nation averaging 7.2 assists. Fox and Bam Adebayo were preseason All-SEC first team selections, while Monk and Isaiah Briscoe were second team All-SEC preseason picks. Kentucky is No. 9 in the RPI, No. 4 in the Sagaring Ratings and No. 4 by Ken Pomeroy through Dec. 18.

Louisville leads the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency through Dec. 18. The Cardinals are fifth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.359), 11th in scoring defense (59.4 ppg), fourth in blocked shots (7.2 per game), 22nd in three-point field goal defense (.287), 24th in turnover margin (+4.6), 11th in rebound margin (+9.3), fifth in rebounds per game (45.0), third in offensive rebounds per game (16.1) and 15th in scoring margin (+19.1). Six of the Cardinals 11 opponents this season have scored under 60 points. Eight of Louisville’s 11 opponents this season have shot below 36 percent from the field and four have shot below 32 percent. Eastern Kentucky shot 35.6 percent in UofL’s last game when the Cardinals limited the Colonels to 16 first-half points. It was the third time UofL has held a team under 20 points in a half this season.

This game as most of them have in the Pitino/Calipari era will come down to good offense vs good defense… The best way to beat Kentucky this season is to play great lock-down defense against their back-court and not let Fox have his way in the lane and not let Monk have many open looks from deep. The Louisville guards also need to brace up in the face of the Wildcats’ defensive harassment. Kentucky still has a lot of length and talent in their front-court but unlike previous seasons this Louisville team has plenty of talent and height of their own to challenge them here. According to Kenpom’s advance analytics the Cards are #9 in effective height and #19 in average height. The cats are #16 in effective height and #59 in average height.

The Cardinals X-factors on Wednesday night will be the front-court players. If Anas, Mango, Johnson and Spalding can play great defense and grab those offensive/defensive rebounds I really like our chances. They have to neutralize the Kentucky bigs. I also think our bench scoring will come into play in this one. There are always a lot of fouls called in these games. The Cardinals have 327 bench points already this season. Per Kenpom Louisville is ranked 54th in bench minutes. I’ve heard them mock David Levitch and Ryan McMahon… but so did the experts before Tim “Wichita” Henderson led the Cardinals to the Championship game in 2013.

This will be one of the biggest tests of the year for both of these teams. Each has to play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and an opportunity to knock off this Kentucky group. It has been too long. Should be another great one in the series… Go Cards!

Here we go again… Cards vs. Cats

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We are just a few weeks removed from the Cats and Cards doing battle on the gridiron to end the regular season of college football. On Saturday they will take the battle to the basketball court. This week we have flown our flags a little higher and wore our gear with that little extra boost of pride. This is the Cards and the Cats and it just doesn’t get any bigger in college basketball.

If you have grown up in the state of Kentucky and you are a sports fan this rivalry has been a part of your life. I can’t say that for the last 29 years I have enjoyed all the constant back and forth between me and my friends that cheer for Kentucky. But rivalries are what define sports and every competition needs a great rivalry. We have one of the best rivalries in all of sports and it deserves the credit. The Rivalry has given us many enjoyable moments and now it’s time to have another.

“Two elite teams meet once again, eternal bragging rights (at least for another year), HoF coaches who can’t stand each other. It’s not always a pretty watch, but it’s compelling TV and the best soap opera in the sport at the moment.” -Sports Illustrated

This will again be a highly anticipated Battle of the Bluegrass with both teams ranked within the top 25. It has been the Cats who have won the last 10 out of 12 in this battle head-to-head, but when looking at their entire body of work these teams have had similar success in the last 30 years. A series that started in 1913 these old rivals will meet for the 49th time on Saturday afternoon. Kentucky holds the all-time lead in this series 33-15.

STARTING LINE-UP
Skal Labissiere (9.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG)
Tyler Ulis (12 PPG, 3.6 RPG)
Isaiah Briscoe (11.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
Alex Poythress (9.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG)
Jamal Murray (17.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG)

KEY RESERVES
Marcus Lee (8.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG)
Derek Willis (5.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG)
Charles Matthews (3.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG)

KENPOM ANALYSIS
#12 Overall
Offense Adjustment efficiency 112.0 24th
Defense Adjustment efficiency 92.7 13th
Kenpom has Kentucky winning this game 71-70

The Wildcats are are shooting 47.1% from the field, 29.7% from beyond the arc, 67.4% from the free throw line and average 78.4 points a game. They are aggressive attacking the basket with their dribble-drive motion offense and rank among the top 25 in the nation in offensive rebound percentage. Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray are their most important players on the offensive side of floor.

Ulis is one of the more crafty guards that has ever played for Coach Calipari and that is saying a lot. He can create his own shots and is a very efficient offensive threat, but where he really excels is getting his teammates involved. He is so quick and getting into the lane that when defense comes help side he will dish to another player in scoring position. He has 53 assist on the season and averages 5.3 a game. Murray is their deadliest offensive threat and there isn’t a spot on the court where he can’t score. He is shooting 42% from the floor and almost 40% from beyond the arc. He has range for days. A guy who could be a big X-Factor for them Saturday is Alex Poythress. When engaged, he can affect the game on either end of the floor. He leads Kentucky in rebounding and, at times, displays a much-improved offensive game. He’s also effective in transition because he can gallop down the floor and is a target for lobs.

Kentucky plays man-to-man but haven’t done so aggressively enough during the first part of this season to suit Calipari. The Wildcats are dangerous on this end of the floor if amped up getting into passing lanes and harassing ball handlers. I suspect they’ll be amped up for their home crowd Saturday. They are allowing 65.6 points on 39.9 percent shooting from the field allowing 30.4 percent shooting from deep and forcing 13.8 turnovers per game.

The best way to beat Kentucky this season is to play great lock-down defense against their back-court and not let Ulis have his way in the lane and not let Murray have many open looks from deep. The Louisville guards also need to brace up in the face of the Wildcats’ defensive harassment. Kentucky still has a lot of length and talent in their front-court but unlike previous seasons this Louisville team has plenty of talent and height of their own to challenge them here. The Cardinals are allowing 55.9 points on 35.2 percent shooting from the field, allowing 29 percent shooting from deep and is forcing 15 turnovers per game. They are ranked 2nd in the nation in scoring defense.

Anytime you play Kentucky there is always talk about the one and done players and how they’ve had such an impact on this rivalry over the last 5 years. That won’t be the case on Saturday. It will be the done and one players Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. Lee is averaging 17.3 points and 4.3 rebounds while Lewis is averaging 14.7 points and 2.8 assists. These guys have meant everything for Louisville this season and are a big reason why they are ranked 11th in the nation in scoring offense. It’s been a long time since Louisville fans have witnessed offensive output like this. The Cardinals X-factors on Saturday will be the front-court players. If Anas, Onuaku and Spalding can play great defense and grab those defensive rebounds I really like our chances. They have to neutralize the Kentucky bigs. I do think our bench scoring will come into play in this one. There are always a lot of fouls called in these games. The Cardinals have 353 bench points already this season.

This will be one of the biggest test of the year for both of these teams. Each has to play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and a opportunity to knock off this Kentucky group. It has been too long. Should be another great one in the series… Go Cards!

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 80 Kentucky 72