Louisville’s loss to Georgetown on Wednesday was “damaging” to the fourth-ranked Cardinals going into Saturday’s game at No. 3 Kentucky and ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale says that’s one reason he’s picking the Wildcats to win 74-68.
“The only way Louisville has a chance is to make a lot of 3’s like Indiana did (when it gave UK¿its only loss),” Vitale said Thursday. “If you don’t make 3’s, you don’t beat Kentucky. Louisville will battle, but when it is all said and done, (John) Calipari’s team will not lose on its home court.”
Vitale also says there’s no doubt “Kentucky has absolutely more to lose” in the game than Louisville because of lofty preseason expectations for Calipari’s team.
“Kentucky has more to lose, Louisville has more to gain,” Vitale said. “The standard is so high for Kentucky, this is a game they have to win.”
Here’s how other national and state media members responded when asked who would win the game and which team had more to lose/gain in the game:
Question: Who do you think will win Saturday’s Kentucky-Louisville game and why?
Kyle Macy, WLAP-AM "Sunday Morning Sports Talk" host: “I will take Kentucky! I think the home court will be the difference. U of L has only played one game outside of the KFC Yum! Center so far and that was at Butler, who is having a down year. Seemingly, all Big East teams are taking this approach of playing only home games vs non-conference opponents so as to build up a high numbers of wins and thereby a higher RPI. (see Syracuse, their recent game at N.C. State was their first true non-conference road game since 2008) Then, with these elevated rankings, when they lose multiple games in conference it doesn't hurt their rankings. Granted the Cards have played some good teams, but playing on the road can be a challenge, and you never know how a team will react?”
Michael DeCourcy, The Sporting News: “At least on the front end, that doesn't seem like a tough question. Kentucky has the better players and is playing at home. That should get it done. But the Wildcats would be wise to not leave it close at the end, and absolutely to play to the final buzzer. One thing Louisville does as well as anyone: believe. Sometimes I think they're changing clothes in the locker room after a loss and still trying to figure out a way to turn it into a win.”
Keith Taylor, The Winchester Sun: “Kentucky has proven to be a tough team to beat under John Calipari at Rupp Arena and I don't think it will change against an instate rival. Louisville is ranked right behind Kentucky in the polls, but, Louisville's roster isn't interchangeable like Kentucky's and the Wildcats have proved they can win without Terrence Jones. Louisville is a good team, but I really don't think the Cardinals can matchup with Kentucky's size in the post and won't have answer for Anthony Davis inside. The return of Jones, along with Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist give the Wildcats an edge in this one.”
Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook: “I think Kentucky will win, for a couple of reasons. I think the home-court advantage for Kentucky has become huge in coach Calipari’s three seasons. And I think Kentucky’s frontcourt is more talented and physical than Louisville’s.”
Larry Glover, Larry Glover Live: “I definitely think UK will win. The Cats hold all of the Cards, so to speak, with talent and home court advantage at the top of list. Louisville's only chance is that they catch the Cats a little flat and there is NO way that Cal and the Big Blue Nation will let that happen.”
Matt Jones, Kentucky Sports Radio: “I will take Kentucky due to the combination of more offensive weapons and home court advantage. Both teams can play defense, but I simply don't see how UL will be able to score on Kentucky. They don't have the offensive firepower of UK and will be unable to get the easy baskets that the Cats can produce.”
Jacqueline Sprague, WTVQ-TV: “I think Kentucky will win the Louisville game. It will be a tough battle but I don’t think the Cards have enough ammo to beat the loaded Cats team, especially with T. Jones playing. However, this ESPN magazine coming out with Anthony Davis adds a little more fuel to the fire.”
Alan Cutler, WLEX-TV: “I like UK and not because I work in Lexington. It’s at Rupp. UK has better talent. But for those UK fans who hate Louisville and don’t give them any credit, so far this year when it comes to playing offense, pretty is not the word you would use. But they play defense and they are tough. March tough? No. December tough. For UK fans, the raw power of the athletes often makes some exciting plays, but pretty is not a word you would use for their offense. UK is still trying to figure out their rolls and has a long ways to go when it comes to playing together. But, for a young team they play defense and they are tougher than Cal tells us. But, Cal is right, they aren’t March tough. December tough? Yes.
“Look for a low scoring game. Hope that the refs don’t decide the game with blowing the whistle too early and too often with too many of the best players sitting and watching. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist says he won’t change how he plays. But he’s been picking up ‘two’ fouls quickly. Scoring eight points in the first half against Lamar is okay. Playing only seven minutes in the first half because he was in foul trouble isn’t.”
Mark Mathis, (Owensboro) Messenger-Inquirer: “UK will win the game 77-68. It has more overall talent than UofL, although the Cardinals have decent depth despite all their injuries. Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist need to continue to play strong inside and in the lane. Terrence Jones needs to have a much better effort than he did at Indiana.”
Mark Buerger, WLAP-AM: “UK wins. I'm hard pressed to find a position where Louisville has an advantage over Kentucky (maybe Siva, but he can just as well play Louisville out of a game as play them into one). Between that and the game being at Rupp, it's UK's to lose.”
Question: Which team has more to lose/gain in Saturday’s game?
Macy: “Kentucky has more to lose. If the Cats fall their ranking will fall and it will be more difficult to get it back up for a high (No. 1) NCAA seed. If the Cards lose they can say it was on the road and with a win versus say Syracuse in conference, they can jump back up the polls!”
DeCourcy: “Because of its favorite status, it's obvious UK has more to lose and that Louisville has more to gain. A win at Rupp would be a regular-season win that almost no one in the nation would be able to match this season. The Wildcats could overcome a loss but would definitely have to win the SEC regular season to do it.”
Taylor: “Louisville has more to gain than Kentucky in this game because the Cardinals haven't beaten a quality opponent despite being undefeated going into Wednesday night's game against Georgetown. Kentucky lost to Indiana, but it didn't cost them much in the national rankings. Louisville has lost the five of the last seven meetings against UK and has won just two meetings since 2000 at Rupp Arena and that was in 2004 and 2008 and the Cards would like nothing more than add to that list this time around.”
Dortch: “Ultimately, the game is mainly about bragging rights and won’t mean that much in the larger scheme of things. If both teams follow the preseason form they’ve displayed so far, they’ll have excellent seasons in their respective conferences. And that will be enough to secure a high seed in the NCAA Tournament and provide a springboard for a deep run.”
Glover: “I think UK has the most to lose. If they get upset then people will start to question if they have the chops to win a title. Nobody expects U off L to win so a loss does;t really hurt them unless it's a blowout loss and probably won't happen. 79-66 sounds about right.”
Jones: “Kentucky has much more to lose in this game due to expectations. The combination of playing at home and their more talented players mean that the Cats must win in order to not have a huge disappointment.”
Sprague: “I think the Cats have more to gain because they lost to Indiana and because a lot of people (i.e. national media) don’t seem to be taking them seriously. Kentucky needs to show everyone that they’re no joke.”
Mathis: “Both teams are about equally ranked, although UK is the better team, on paper and on the court. UK needs to win because it is at home, and the perception of the Cats would take a major hit if they lost this game. UofL hasn't played well in its last four or five games, hasn't finished well, and has scrambled to get victories. All that finally caught up with the Cardinals against Georgetown. UofL should be more focused after that loss, but UK has more talent and should execute better down the stretch if it is a tight game.
Buerger: “I think UK will always have more to lose in this game than Louisville will. The original reasons for UK not playing the series weren't invalid (don't get me wrong. I think they should always still play). I don't buy Cal's line that UK is the ‘only’ program in Kentucky, but it's the dominant one. A loss to Louisville always looks and feels like a failure — and even an embarrassment — much more so than I think a Louisville loss to Kentucky does on their end.”