College basketball schedule and results: Kentucky-Louisville is the game of the year
Top five teams. In-state rivals. Two undefeated seasons on the line. It doesn’t get any better than this.
In-state rivals Kentucky and Louisville always play each other well, but the stakes are raised even further in Saturday’s top-five matchup that may present the best chance to end the Wildcats’ bid for an undefeated season.
Kentucky, the unanimous No. 1 team in the country, has navigated its non-conference schedule rather simply, beating three ranked teams — two in the top 10. A road game in Louisville presents their biggest challenge before the season turns over to their 18-game conference stretch. The SEC just doesn’t present as many challenges this season, not since Florida (7-4) lost four senior starters from a Final Four team a year ago. Any team can slip up, but after Saturday, Kentucky is likely to be heavily favored in every game going forward.
That brings us to the Dec. 27 matchup. Both the Cardinals and Wildcats boast dominant defenses, but Kentucky adds a deep and rounded offensive assault where the scoring can come from anywhere. Aaron Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein and Devin Booker all average 10 points or more per game while six more players score five points a game or more.
For Louisville, the offense is focused around four players. Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell each are averaging 16.7 points this season. Seniors Wayne Blackshear and Chris Jones help anchor the Cardinals’ defense and score double figures offensively, but neither have done so particularly efficiently this year. Jones has struggled shooting the ball, hitting only 32 percent of his attempts from the field and 31 percent from three-point range. If the Cardinals are to knock off the No. 1 team, they’ll need all four players to have strong games.
How to watch, listen, stream
Game time: 2 p.m. ET
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Rankings and records: Kentucky is ranked No. 1 in the AP and Coaches Poll. Louisville is ranked No. 4 in the AP and Coaches Poll. Kentucky is 12-0 and is coming off a 83-44 win against UCLA after beating No. 21 North Carolina two Saturdays ago. Louisville is 11-0 and beat CS Northridge 80-55 on Tuesday.
Odds: Kentucky is favored by 2.5 points.
One big matchup
Rozier vs. Harrison. Rozier stands to be the player who can gain the most from the outcome of this game. When Louisville’s offense falters, it’s because they struggle to hit their outside shots (they shoot 29 percent on 3-pointers as a team). Rozier’s only making 34 percent of his shots from deep this season, but he’s the Cardinals’ best shooter and against the brutal Kentucky defense he’ll have to hit shots to open up the floor and allow Harrell to work inside. Andrew Harrison has only shot 26 percent from the floor in December, including a 1-12 game against Colombia, but had a season-high eight assists last Saturday against UCLA that he can look to build on.