Louisville Cardinals vs. Kentucky Wildcats
The Louisville Cardinals and the Kentucky Wildcats battle it out on Saturday in New Orleans in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four with the winner going to the NCAA Finals. The Wildcats are -9 point favorites over the Cardinals with an over/under point total set at 137.5.
It has been a somewhat improbable ride for the Louisville Cardinals as Rick Pitino’s team won the Big East Tournament and then ripped through their bracket in the NCAA Tournament to land in New Orleans. It hasn’t been an easy road for Louisville as they drew Davidson in the first round followed by New Mexico, top seeded Michigan State, and Florida. For the season the Cardinals are averaging 68.4 points and they are shooting 42.5 percent while defensively they are allowing 60.8 points and their opponents shoot just 38.4 percent from the floor. Kyle Kuric hasn’t heated up during the tournament but for the year he is averaging 12.7 points and 4.2 rebounds, Russ Smith averages 11.6 points, Chis Smith averages 9.7 points, and Peyton Siva is averaging 9.1 points and 5.6 assists. Two key player for Louisville in this one will be Chane Behanan who has woken up in the NCAA Tournament and is looking like one of the better players and Gorgui Dieng who averaged nine rebounds a game during the regular season and 3.2 blocks and whose presence defensively will be counted on. Louisville lost by seven to UK at Rupp Arena by seven but the game wasn’t as close as the score would indicate.
The Kentucky Wildcats have been playing like a team on a mission and John Calipari’s team may be playing their best basketball of the season. Kentucky has destroyed their competition in the NCAA Tournament thus far knocking off Western Kentucky, Iowa State, putting 102 points on the board against Indiana, and blowing out Baylor early. For the season the number one ranked Wildcats averaged 77.9 points and shot 48.8 percent from the floor while defensively they allowed 60.6 points and their opponents shoot 37.5 percent. Anthony Davis averages 14.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks per game, Doron Lamb averages 13.6 points, Terrance Jones is averaging 12.6 points and 7.2 rebounds, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 12 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Kentucky has so many players and so many ways to beat teams but they would very much like to erase the memory of their last game in New Orleans where they lost to Vandy in the SEC Tournament final.
Louisville is 8-0 against the spread in their last eight games overall, 4-0 against the spread as an underdog, and 13-3 against the spread following a win. Kentucky is 8-2 against the spread following a cover, 3-11-1 against the spread in their last 15 non-conference games, and 6-2 against the spread in their last eight NCAA Tournament games. Kentucky has covered in six of the last eight meetings of these two.
While both of these teams can score points, both of these teams are defense first as Kentucky is the top rated defense in the nation and Louisville is 12th and it’s no surprise to me to see teams with high defensive ranking in the Final Four. This game goes to the defense as well and despite a rising total the play here is the under.