basketball Edit

Staff Predictions

Will John Calipari continue his mastery of the Louisville Cardinals even during the program's worst start in 100 years?

Or will Chris Mack get a little piece of revenge?

Cats Illustrated staff members sound off with their thoughts.

What are you most interested in watching during the UK-UofL game?

David Sisk: This season has gotten to the point that I’m not sure what I want to see besides a Kentucky victory. This team has been so inconsistent with new ways of losing games each time out. I guess no tears on the bench might be nice. The bottom line is that despite what John Calipari says the season is on the line Saturday. If they lose that’s 1-6. I understand they will probably add a game against an overwhelmed opponent to replace South Carolina. But if they lose to Louisville they will have to go 11-6 in the SEC to get to .500 on the season if the Gamecocks game isn’t rescheduled. That doesn’t include a game with Texas. In other words they better start winning and winning now.

Jeff Drummond: I'm interested to see how Kentucky responds to another week of "Camp Cal" with nothing to do but focus on some of the problems that have kept the Cats from getting over the hump in matchups like this. John Calipari says he wants the team to be more empowered and has hinted that he wants transfers Davion Mintz and Olivier Sarr to take on more of the leadership role. Those are the guys UK needs to be playing through on the offensive end of the floor, so we'll see if it comes to fruition against the Cards. It wouldn't hurt for a guy like freshman wing B.J. Boston to have his breakout game, either.

Justin Rowland: If Kentucky finds itself with a lead in the second half as it did against North Carolina can they execute a little better and show more maturity than they did against the Heels, when droughts and foul troubles did them in? This team has done well for stretches. Small stretches. Keeping focus for longer has to be the goal. When things start to go wrong, can they be patient enough to work for good looks and not get sloppy or push too hard?

Travis Graf: The thing I’m most interested to see is which position group obtains the bigger advantage in this game — Louisville’s guards or Kentucky’s bigs. On paper, those are the two biggest positional mismatches. For Kentucky, the offense absolutely must go through Olivier Sarr. Looking at Louisville’s front court, there’s no reason the senior shouldn’t have 15 and 8 in this game. The Louisville pack line defense will lead to double teams and congestion when he catches the ball. Does Kentucky have an answer? One guard or wing must have a great game. Does BJ Boston find his shooting stroke? Does Davion Mintz or Devin Askew perform well in pick-and-rolls?

What's your prediction for the game and how it will play out?

Sisk: I can’t get a real feel on this one. I’m not sold on Louisville’s wins. Pitt was decimated with injuries and they were blown out by Wisconsin. I’ll go with my 65-point scale again. If UK can get there they will win. In their five losses they have scored 64, 62, 62, 63, and 63. Louisville is giving up 61.8. Either way I see it as an ugly brawl with scoring needs at a premium. Louisville 66 Kentucky 63.

Drummond: I don't have a good reason to pick either one of these teams to win the "Dream Game" this year, especially a 1-5 Kentucky club, but I've had a nagging suspicion all week that this matchup may be just the right tonic to bring the Cats out of their funk. Calipari keeps his mastery of Louisville going: Kentucky 64, Louisville 60.

Rowland: It's hard for me to pick Kentucky in this game, having watched this team in all six of its games and knowing how deep its issues cut. It seems cliché to just reflexively pick Kentucky because they're playing against Louisville. But that's what I'm going to do, because it's just strange how Calipari's teams have tended to play some of their best games in a given season against the Cards, sometimes at the same time as the Cards failing to show up with a good effort against the Cats. There has to be something mental going on there. Now, this year could certainly be different and that would not surprise me. But I'll call for the 'Cats to finally put together about 30 minutes of good basketball and hold on for their second win of the season. I have not had the impulse to predict that this team will circle the wagons much this season, but if it happens, I think it'll be in this game. Kentucky 69, Louisville 67.

Graf: Louisville 62, Kentucky 58. The Louisville guards are too much for Kentucky in this rock fight battle. Louisville is at their best in pick-and-roll situations, when Carlik Jones and David Johnson are able to operate in the mid-range and get a foot in the paint. Kentucky’s interior defenders that will be switched on them in this case aren’t the best at moving laterally. Olivier Sarr has a fantastic game, but the Wildcats come up short, leading to a 1-6 record.