College Basketball Odds & Picks: How to Bet Kentucky vs. Louisville
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Boston Jr.
- The Kentucky Wildcats look to end their five-game losing streak when they face their in-state rival Louisville Cardinals on Saturday.
- Their offense has stuggled, but the Wildcats have seen plenty of promise from their freshmen and transfer additions this season.
- BJ Cunningham breaks down Saturday's game and shares his betting pick below.
Kentucky vs. Louisville Odds
|Kentucky Odds||+4 [BET NOW]|
|Louisville Odds||-4 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+155 / -186 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||132 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 1 p.m. ET|
The battle for supremacy in the Bluegrass State commences on Saturday when Kentucky battles Louisville.
For John Calipari, this is one of his worst starts as a head coach. The Wildcats sit at 1-5 and look lost on the offensive end of the floor.
Kentucky came into the season as the preseason favorite to win the SEC, but after the start it’s had, that looks more like a pipe dream. Can it end the skid against another struggling program on Saturday?
Chris Mack’s second season at the helm was heading for a potential ACC title and a No. 1 seed in the tournament, before the Cardinals lost four of their last seven games in ACC play. Mack lost his entire starting five from last year, so he’s going to have to rely on a lot of freshmen and transfers this season.
Outside of getting blown out by Wisconsin in Madison, Louisville has taken care of business. Can the Cardinals do it again against their in-state rival?
It’s not a surprise given Kentucky’s legacy, but Calipari has another impressive freshman class. However, the Wildcats were left without more than 90% of their scoring from 2019-20, so they need to get as much as possible out of that new group.
It all starts with a stellar backcourt consisting of freshmen Brandon Boston Jr. and Terrence Clarke. To take things a step further, Kentucky also nabbed a key transfer in Wake Forest’s Olivier Sarr.
Boston and Clarke lead the team with 14.5 and 12.5 points per game, respectively, and Sarr ranks third on the team with 10.5.
Despite the positives they’ve seen from the newcomers, the Wildcats enter Saturday’s game at just 1-5.
Kentucky has recently struggled to produce on offense, sitting 251st in effective field goal percentage and 318th in 3-point percentage. In fact, none of the Wildcats’ top-four scorers shoot better than 30% from deep.
As was the case in previous seasons, the Wildcats can win most of their games this season based on talent despite their inexperience. But if they keep shooting this poorly, they are going to struggle to turn the season around.
For Kentucky to win on Saturday, it’s going to have to come at the defensive end of the floor because its offense cannot be trusted right now.
Replacing a team’s entire starting five is always difficult, and it showed for Chris Mack in Louisville’s blowout loss to Wisconsin.
What hasn’t made things any easier for Mack is his top returner from last year, Malik Williams, is going to be on the sidelines for 12 weeks. To combat the loss of his starting five, Mack brought in big transfers in reigning Big South Player of the Year Carlik Jones from Radford and Charles Minlend from San Francisco. However, Minlend has yet to feature for the Cardinals and is out until the new year.
So far, Louisville has just been slightly above average on both sides of the ball ranking in the top 40 of offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom. One big change on the offensive end of the floor is Louisville is no longer a good 3-point shooting team. Last season, it had the 15th-best 3-point percentage in the country while 33.3% of its points came from behind the arc.
This season, it’s are only shooting 32.7% from 3 and has only 22% of its points coming from deep.
The defense is projected to be just as good as last year, ranking inside the top 30 in defensive efficiency. It struggled against Wisconsin, allowing 1.30 points per possession, but otherwise has been solid against lesser opponents.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think this line is a tad bit of an overreaction to Kentucky’s poor start — especially with Louisville not being at full strength with Minlend and Williams on the sidelines.
Kentucky possesses a crazy amount of talent, so if Calipari can get everyone on the same page, the Wildcats should be able to have a good shot at winning at the KFC Yum Center.
I have Louisville projected as only -2.44 favorites, so I think there’s some value on Kentucky at +4.5 or better.
Pick: Kentucky +4.5 or better.