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College Basketball Picks for 12-29-18: Could Louisville Upset Kentucky?

John Calipari
John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats take on Louisville on Saturday, December 29th. By Cmadler [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0]
  • Kentucky is 9-2 straight up against Louisville with John Calipari as coach
  • Nevada is 12-0 this season but 0-10 all-time vs. Utah
  • Western Kentucky has never beaten Wisconsin

Have the Kentucky Wildcats finally turned the corner in this NCAA basketball season?

A 34-point loss to Duke and an upset setback at the hands of unranked Seton Hall left people wondering whether they should be all that wild about the Wildcats, but an 80-72 triumph over No. 9 North Carolina last week restored some faith that Kentucky will be okay.

Another solid win over state rival Louisville would serve to further cement that belief.

Kentucky vs Louisville Odds

Teams Moneyline Pointspread Total at BetOnline
Kentucky -150 -1.5 (-115) O 146.5 (-105)
Louisville +130 +1.5 (-105) U 146.5 (-115)

*All odds taken 12/28

Louisville has a new coach in Chris Mack, who is no stranger to cross-state rivalries, having coached Xavier to a 6-3 record against Cincinnati, three times defeating nationally-ranked Bearcats squads.

The Cardinals are 9-3 and that includes a win over Seton Hall, one of two teams to beat Kentucky this season.

Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans tied a school single-game record with eight steals against the Tar Heels and was named SEC freshman of the week.

Both of Calipari’s losses to Louisville have come on the road.

Lousiville played No. 3 Tennessee tough (92-81 loss) and fell by one point at No. 23 Indiana. The Cardinals are the more physical team and Louisville forward Jordan Nwora will take advantage of No. 16 Kentucky’s poor three-point field goal defense, ranked 335th in the NCAA.

Pick: Louisville +1.5 (-105)

Nevada vs Utah Odds

Teams Moneyline Pointspread Total at BetOnline
Nevada -325 -10 (-110) O 145 (-115)
Utah +270 +10 (-110) U 145 (-105)

The Wolf Pack’s 12-0 start is the best in the Division One era that started in 1969-70.

Nevada looks to complete its first-ever unbeaten non-conference schedule, but to do so, the Pack must do something they’ve never done in 10 previous tries, and that would be defeating the 6-5 Utes.

But their last meeting was in 1987, an 83-75 Utah victory. Nevada is one of five remaining unbeaten teams from among 353 NCAA Division One basketball schools, with wins over No. 17 Arizona State and USC already on their slate.

Nevada senior G/F Jordan Caroline has seven double-doubles this season and 34 in his career. The Wolf Pack are 32-2 when he records a double-double.

Utah is coached by Larry Krystowiak. The last time sixth-ranked Nevada faced a Krystowiak-coached team was when he led Montana to an upset win over the fifth-seeded Wolf Pack in the opening round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

Pick: Utah +10 (-110)

Wisconsin vs Western Kentucky Odds

Teams Moneyline Pointspread Total at BetOnline
Wisconsin -285 -7 (-122) O 137 (-110)
Western Kentucky +240 +7 (+102) U 137 (-110)

The 15th-ranked Badgers (10-2) are 2-0 against the Hilltoppers, winning 81-80 last year in Madison.

Wisconsin turns the ball over on just 13.9 % of its possessions according to KenPom, and that’s the sixth-lowest ratio in NCAA Division One basketball.

Western Kentucky is a dismal 234th in the nation at creating turnovers. A win would give the Badgers three road victories already this season, equaling last season’s output.

Western Kentucky (6-6) will be without sophomore forward Marek Nelson, a starter in six games this season, who was suspended indefinitely after being charged with a DUI last Sunday.

Nelson entered the starting lineup after Auburn transfer Desean Murray opted to leave the program to pursue a career in pro basketball.

In their only other game against a ranked opponent this season, the Hilltoppers were humbled 73-55 by No. 25 Washington.

Western Kentucky is 3-1 at home this season, averaging 81.5 points per game at home and 72.8 overall, but the Hilltoppers don’t have the depth to stay with the Badgers.

Pick: Wisconsin -7 (-122); over 137 (-110)

Author Image

A veteran journalist, Bob Duff has written over two-dozen books, including authorized biographies of Johnny Bower, Desmond Howard and Gordie Howe. He has covered the Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, NBA Finals, March Madness and the Olympic Games.