Historic programs primed for epic battle
Over the years, Rick Pitino and John Calipari have engaged in a plethora of classic duels. Tonight, the two legendary coaches could experience one of their most frenetic meetings yet.
Louisville hosts Kentucky, whose mile-a-minute style just produced a win over the seventh-ranked team in the country, at 7 p.m. ET. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Wildcats odds of -140 to take care of business on the road. The Cardinals, on the other hand, represent +120 underdogs.
Thanks largely to freshman sensation Malik Monk’s 47-point outburst, Calipari’s squad edged North Carolina on last Saturday. UK shot 54 percent from the floor in the 103-100 victory, collecting 19 assists in the process. Center Bam Adebayo also pulled down seven rebounds. He appears to be following right in the footsteps of recent low-post predecessors such as Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein, averaging 12.6 points and 7.9 boards through 11 contests.
Pitino doesn’t possess a transcendent offensive performer like Monk. Whether senior Mangok Mathiang can hang with Adebayo is open to debate, too. Collectively, though, the Cards’ starting five measures up to any outfit in Division I. Floor general Quentin Snider & Co. commenced the campaign with five consecutive victories, including a 62-52 trouncing of Wichita State, before succumbing to No. 4 Baylor in the Battle 4 Atlantis final on Nov. 25.
Kentucky boasts a 34-15 edge in the series, but these clashes always seem to go down to the wire. That’ll surely happen in this installment, as well. Look for a late flurry of free throws to help guarantee the Lexington crowd a thrilling lead-in to Christmas.
WEDNESDAY NCAA FREE PICK: KENTUCKY/LOUISVILLE OVER 158 POINTS