Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals betting odds, preview, pick

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

The Wildcats are expected to be college basketball betting underdogs when the full Louisville vs Kentucky odds are posted later Friday. But for now, the defending champs are road underdogs.

The Louisville Cardinals are 11-1 SU so far this season, but they'll get one of their biggest tests of the year this Saturday when they host the defending-champion Kentucky Wildcats.

This in-state rivalry game is a huge statement game for both programs to try to enter 2013 on a high note and one shop had already installed the Cardinals as 7-point favorites late Friday.

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals (Saturday, 4:00 PM ET) - get NCAA hoops odds on every game here at SB Nation

Both of these teams entered the season ranked in the Top 3 of both the AP and Coaches' Polls with Louisville at No. 2 and Kentucky at No. 3. So far, Louisville has lived up to its preseason hype while Kentucky has failed to do so. [ Louisville Game Logs ]

Currently ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 3 in the Coaches' Poll, Louisville's only SU loss this season came to No. 1 Duke in November. Louisville hasn't faced many big tests otherwise with the exception of an impressive 84-61 win over Missouri, but has passed the eye test so far and is averaging a strong 78.1 points per game.

While four players are averaging 10 points or more per game, junior guard Russ Smith has emerged as the star of the offense averaging 19.7 PPG.

Going through the growing pains of losing virtually the entire roster to the NBA Draft this offseason, Kentucky got off to a disappointing 4-3 SU and 0-5 ATS start. Road losses to Duke and Notre Dame are somewhat forgivable, but the 9-point home loss to Baylor as a 6.5-point favorite stung. [ Kentucky Game Logs ]

Since that loss, Kentucky is 4-0 SU and 3-0 ATS against weak opponents. This Saturday's game will reveal whether the Wildcats have turned a corner or are just thriving in the bully role against cupcakes.

Archie Goodwin (16 PPG) and Alex Poythress (14.5 PPG) lead an attack averaging 78.5 PPG.

While both of these teams usually trend towards offense, this series has trended heavily towards the UNDER over the last 11 years. The total has gone UNDER in 10 of the last 11 games featuring a total between these two teams including each of the last four games since 2010.

Kentucky has won all four of those games (with a 2-1-1 ATS record) and is 7-2 SU and 6-2-1 ATS against Louisville in nine meetings since 2004. Louisville is 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS in its last four home games against the Wildcats.

The college basketball odds database shows that eight of the past nine meetings of these rivals has played UNDER the total.

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