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NCAA tournament Final Four predictions: Louisville vs. Kentucky


CBSSports.com writers take their best shot at predicting which teams will play for the national championship.

Louisville vs. Kentucky, Sat., 6:09 p.m. ET (CBS) | Ohio State vs. Kansas, Sat., 8:49 p.m. ET (CBS)

· Parrish: History shows it doesn't take much to fuel a Calipari-Pitino fire
· Goodman: In life of glory and grief, extortion episode doesn't define Pitino
· Norlander: Timeline of once dormant, always fiery Louisville-Kentucky rivalry
· Scouting reports: Louisville | Kentucky
· Road to Superdome: Louisville | Kentucky | Game preview
Gary Parrish, College Basketball Insider
John Calipari has assembled a diverse group of future professionals and somehow convinced them to put aside the usual individual goals for the sake of the greater good, and the result is the nation's most dominant team. The Wildcats have rolled through the competition, compiled a 36-2 record and become one of the sport's best offensive and defensive units. They have the likely No. 1 pick (Anthony Davis) and No. 2 pick (Michael Kidd-Gilchrst) in June's NBA Draft on their roster, and those guys rank fourth and fifth at UK in field goals attempted. In other words, they're unselfish stars interested in nothing but winning, and that's among the reasons Kentucky will win Saturday at the Superdome. Calipari has the better players and those players have completely bought in. The only way UK loses is if UK shoots really, really poorly, and I just don't think that's gonna happen this time.
Jeff Goodman, College Basketball Insider
Rick Pitino is playing with house money. His Louisville Cardinals weren't supposed to be in New Orleans and have nothing to lose. Well, except if they get embarrassed by that "other" team in the state, the Kentucky Wildcats. John Calipari's team is clearly the most talented group left on the board. What separates Kentucky's players from the rest of the pack is how hard they play, along with their unselfishness and efficiency on both ends of the court. I know Louisville kept it close when the two teams played on Dec. 31, but I just don't see that happening again.
Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com Senior Writer
Welcome to the Kentucky Invitational. Sorry, didnít even drop a spoiler alert. Iím going to save everyone a lot of time. Flash forward to Monday night. Kentucky wins. Satisfied? Didnít think so. The Wildcats are going to dominate. Both games. Louisville is a juicy angle in this one, but wonít provide much opposition in Saturdayís early game. Look, I watched one of Rick Pitinoís greatest coaching performances last week in Phoenix. That said, heíll need six guys to beat Kentucky. Post Gorgui Dieng is emerging but Anthony Davis is the best player in the country. Kyle Kuric is the Cards leading scorer, but the Wildcats can see that and raise. Ever hear of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? It took Cards guard Russ Smith scoring 30 for Louisville to lose by seven in the first meeting. Louisville. Just. Isnít. Good. Enough. My thought is that the Cardinals will hang in for a rollicking first half, then the Wildcats will hang another W.
Gregg Doyel, CBSSports.com National Columnist
A visionary could see Louisville beating Kentucky. A visionary could see the overwhelming pressure getting to Kentucky, and the defense of Gorgui Dieng getting to Kentucky, and the unconscious offense of Russ Smith getting to Kentucky. Me? I don't see so good. I can't see Louisville's inferior talent getting the better of Kentucky's NBA roster for 40 minutes. I can't see Kentucky superstars Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist giving anything less than 100 percent, and 100 percent of Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist is too much for Louisville. I can see one or two of Kentucky's other vital contributors -- Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Darius Miles, Doron Lamb -- having a bad game. I can't see all four having a bad game. All I see is what's in front of my face, but from up close it looks like Kentucky by nine.
Jeff Borzello, CBSSports.com Eye on College Basketball Blogger
The stakes have never been higher in the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry, especially for the Wildcats. There is simply no way they can lose this game, lest they would like to be reduced to secondary status in the commonwealth. In the first meeting, the two teams shot a combined 37-for-119, with Kentucky pulling away down the stretch for a 69-62 win. Don't expect a repeat of the horrendous shooting performance; both teams are better than they were three months ago. The key could be foul trouble. Louisville needs to keep Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng on the floor, while Kentucky's Anthony Davis is extremely disciplined when it comes to committing fouls. Pace of the game will also be interesting. To me, Louisville needs to score off its defense, speeding the game up. Peyton Siva will be important. In the end, Kentucky poses too many matchup problems, both offensively and defensively, for Louisville.
Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com Eye on College Basketball Blogger
I want the close game. I want the tension, the doubt, the OK-so-this-is-actually-possible to play out with two minutes to go. Can you imagine that? Itís hard to right now. We see Kentucky. Then we see Louisville. It doesnít seem fair or like itís going to be close. But thatís why sports always keeps us coming back; we simply canít predict with any sort of consistency how a game is going to play out. And though Iíd love for Louisville to give us a chance at one of the greatest Final Four games in college basketball history, the DNA of UK isnít letting me get that whimsical while on the record. The primary problem: Louisville canít score. It scores with the kind of consistency that we correctly pick our basketball outcomes. And although UKís defense is actually not as good as its offense, Anthony Davis still looms over both ends of the floor, his talent outweighing any other singular factor in this game.
Doug Bean, CBSSports.com Ohio State correspondent
If youíre a Louisville fan, Kentucky is an unlucky draw in the Final Four. But, to say the least, itís an intriguing matchup. Thereís the intrastate rivalry of two proud basketball programs. Thereís the lukewarm relationship between Kentucky coach John Calipari and Louisville coach Rick Pitino. And, of course, thereís added fuel to the fire with Pitino being a former UK coach. While all that stuff makes for compelling story lines, the bottom line is the talent on the court. Both teams have high-quality players. Kentucky simply has more studs, led by freshmen phenoms Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague. The Wildcats already have beaten the Cardinals once this season. But in that game, Louisville held Kentucky to 29.8 percent shooting from the field. For the Cardinals to have any chance at an upset Saturday, their defense will need to be similarly spectacular. In reality, that still might not be enough.
C.J. Moore, CBSSports.com Kansas correspondent
Louisvilleís Chane Behanan was asked Thursday if he believed Kentucky could beat some NBA teams. "They probably can," Behanan said. "I'm not doubting Kentucky." If one of the Cardinals is not doubting Kentucky, why should any of us? Louisville has had a great run and is playing better defense right now than any team in the country. The Cardinals held 11 straight opponents under a point per possession leading up to the Florida game, and they held the Gators to three points over the final eight minutes of the Elite Eight. Unlike the Gators, however, the Wildcats and Anthony Davis can win a defensive battle; they just havenít had to thus far in the tournament, averaging 88 points per game. To beat Kentuckyís talent, itís going to take a team that is great on both ends, which is not Louisville.
Aaron Smith, CBSSports.com Kentucky correspondent
In January, weeks after losing 69-62 to Kentucky in a defense-oriented slugfest, Louisville coach Rick Pitino said the secret to beating the Wildcats was getting F Anthony Davis in foul trouble. The Cardinals almost did in the first meeting, but they -- like almost every other team not named Indiana -- couldnít keep Davis off the floor enough to prevent him from altering the game. Unless that changes, Kentucky will have the edge. And even if Davisí minutes are limited, the Wildcats still have enough ways to win. Kentuckyís top six guys are playing as well, top to bottom, as they have all season. A loss would be devastating for the Wildcats and coach John Calipari. To have their dream season ended by the team Kentucky fans regard as the little brother would be the worst-case scenario. But I just donít see it happening.


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