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College Basketball Betting Preview & Pick: Kentucky at Louisville

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Louisville is one of the most well-balanced teams in college basketball as the Cardinals are averaging 77.3 points per game against teams that would combine to allow just 67.2 points per game to mediocre offensive squads. Moreover, the Cardinals are allowing 54.4 points per game on 34.4% shooting from the field and 27.7% from beyond the arc to teams that would combine to average 70.7 points per game against a mediocre defensive squad. Even more impressive is the fact that the Cardinals are a perfect 8-0 at home this season where they are limiting opponents to a mere 48.6 points per game on 31.5% shooting from the floor and 23.9% from three-point territory.

Overall, Louisville is 10.1 points per game better than average offensively and 16.3 points per game better than average defensively in 2014. Meanwhile, I know of at least one NBA scout who recently stated that Kentucky has upwards of ten NBA players on its roster. Kentucky has won by an average margin of 29 points this season and defeated three ranked opponents by 19.3 points.

The Wildcats are 11.3 points per game better than average offensively (76.7 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 65.4 points per game) and 22.7 points per game better than average offensively (47.7 points per game to teams that would combine to average 70.4 points per game).

Despite being six-point home underdogs, the Cardinals actually possess a solid 5.0 points per game advantage defensively over Kentucky’s attack. Louisville will also be at full strength for today’s game before a sold-out KFC Yum! Center as junior forward Montrezi Harrell, who is averaging 16.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, returns from a one-game suspension following an ejection last week against Western Kentucky.

The Cardinals also have the height and length to limit Kentucky’s ability to dominate the boards as 6-10 forwards Mangok Mathiang and Chinanu Onuaku and 7-foot freshman Anas Mahmoud will be a strong presence in the paint. Let’s also note that Louisville ranks sixth in the nation with 7.2 blocks per game.  “We just have to rebound, stop them from getting on the glass. That’s the main point right there,” said Louisville forward Wayne Blackshear.

Interestingly, Louisville is +9.0 rebounds per game better than average this season, while the Wildcats are +7.0 rebounds per game better than average under the boards. The Cardinals are also averaging 11.0 steals per game, including 12.0 steals per game at home (Kentucky is averaging 6.0 steals per game on the road).

I should also note that this is Kentucky’s first true road game of the 2014-2015 college basketball campaign, and John Calipari’s squad is walking into a buzz saw in the KFC Yum! Center Saturday afternoon.  The Wildcats are a money-burning 6-16 ATS on the road over the last three seasons and 6-15 ATS following a blowout win by 20 or more points (3-10-2 ATS L/15 games), with the latter team trend indicating that the betting market overreacts to Kentucky’s short-term success. Kentucky is also 7-18-1 ATS versus ACC opposition and 0-3-1 ATS in its last four road games following three or more consecutive home contests.

With the underdog standing at a perfect 6-0 ATS in the last six meetings between these teams, take the points with Louisville and invest with confidence.