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Louisvilleâ€™s loss to Georgetown on Wednesday was â€œdamagingâ€ to the fourth-ranked Cardinals going into Saturdayâ€™s game at No. 3 Kentucky and ESPN college basketball analyst says thatâ€™s one reason heâ€™s picking the Wildcats to win 74-68. â€œThe only way Louisville has a chance is to make a lot of 3â€™s like Indiana did (when it gave UKâ€ˆits only loss),â€ said Vitale Thursday. â€œIf you donâ€™t make 3â€™s, you donâ€™t beat Kentucky. Louisville will battle, but when it is all said and done, (John) Calipariâ€™s team will not lose on its home court.â€
Vitale also says thereâ€™s no doubt â€œKentucky has absolutely more to loseâ€ in the game than Louisville because of lofty preseason expectations for Calipariâ€™s team.
â€œKentucky has more to lose, Louisville has more to gain,â€ Vitale said. â€œThe standard is so high for Kentucky, this is a game they have to win.â€
Hereâ€™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 Saturdayâ€™s Kentucky-Louisville game and why?
Kyle Macy, WLAP Sunday Morning Sports Talk: â€œI will take Kentucky! I think the home court will be the difference.Â 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.Â 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.Â (see Syracuse, there recent game at NC State was their first true non-conference road game since 2008)Â Then, with these elevated rankings, when they lose multiple games in conference it doesn’t hurt their rankings.Â 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?â€
Michael DeCourcy, Sporting News: â€œAt 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.â€
Keith Taylor, Winchester Sun: â€œKentucky 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.â€
Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook: â€œI think Kentucky will win, for a couple of reasons. I think the home-court advantage for Kentucky has become huge in coach Calipariâ€™s three seasons. And I think Kentuckyâ€™s frontcourt is more talented and physical than Louisvilleâ€™s.â€
Larry Glover, Larry Glover Live: â€œI 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.â€
Matt Jones, Kentucky Sports Radio: â€œI 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.â€
Jacqueline Sprague, WTVQ: â€œI think Kentucky will win the Louisville game. It will be a tough battle but I donâ€™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.â€
Alan Cutler, WLEX-TV: â€œI like UK and not because I work in Lexington. Itâ€™s at Rupp. UK has better talent. But for those UK fans who hate Louisville and donâ€™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 arenâ€™t March tough. December tough? Yes.
â€œLook for a low scoring game. Hope that the refs donâ€™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 wonâ€™t change how he plays. But heâ€™s been picking up â€˜twoâ€™ fouls quickly.Â Scoring eight points in the first half against Lamar is okay.Â Playing only seven minutes in the first half because he was in foul trouble isnâ€™t.â€
Mark Mathis, Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer: â€œUK 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.â€
Mark Buerger, WLAP: â€œUK 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.