LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 2 Kansas at No. 4 Kentucky is kind of a big deal. ESPN’s College GameDay is town to set the stage for a collision of the two winningest programs in history, and all eyes will be on Rupp Arena when the Jayhawks visit the Wildcats.
It might be the best non-conference matchup in the country this season – UK-UCLA, UK-North Carolina and UK-Louisville are also in that conversation – so SEC Country collected predictions and analysis from several national college basketball writers.
The results: 8 of 10 picked the Cats, but it was close. Average score: 83-81. And the two dissenters seem to share a belief that the Jayhawks’ veteran backcourt will be more poised in the big moment than Kentucky’s young (but also elite) guards. We’ll find out soon enough, but for now, enjoy these fearless predictions:
Gary Parrish (CBS Sports)
Kentucky 88, Kansas 86. “I don’t have many rules in life. But here are two: Never pick against Bill Self at Allen Fieldhouse and never pick against John Calipari at Rupp Arena. Two great teams here. But I will follow my rule.” Follow Gary’s work here.
Pat Forde (Yahoo Sports)
Kansas 77, Kentucky 73. “Losses leading up took some steam out of this, but it’s still a matchup of great backcourts and tremendous overall talent. Kansas will make Kentucky work to score; are the Wildcats diligent enough to execute in the half court?” Follow Pat’s work here.
Luke Winn (Sports Illustrated)
Kentucky 84, Kansas 80. “I still think Kansas has better odds than Kentucky of winning the national title, but the Jayhawks are in a defensive funk that might take a few weeks – rather than just a few days – to fix.” Follow Luke’s work here.
Mike DeCourcy (Sporting News)
Kentucky 80, Kansas 74. “But I’m totally couching this based on whether De’Aaron Fox is healthy. He makes it all work.” Follow Mike’s work here.
Jeff Goodman (ESPN)
Kentucky 72, Kansas 71. “Cats’ guards can match up with KU backcourt and the Jayhawks lack the production and depth up front.” Follow Jeff’s work here.
Nicole Auerbach (USA Today)
Kentucky 94, Kansas 89. “I’m a little bummed that both teams are coming off losses heading into this showdown, but I don’t think that will take away from the quality of the actual game. I give the edge to Kentucky in this high-scoring, star-driven matchup.” Follow Nicole’s work here.
Rob Dauster (NBC Sports)
Kentucky 78, Kansas 76. “Kentucky takes advantage of the lack of size on Kansas’ front line as De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk outplay Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham.” Follow Rob’s work here.
Brian Hamilton (Sports Illustrated)
Kentucky 89, Kansas 87. “The No. 2 most efficient offense meets the No. 5 most efficient offense. Both teams coming off losses. The home crowd nudges the Wildcats to the W.” Follow Brian’s work here.
Matt Norlander (CBS Sports)
Kentucky 78, Kansas 72. “Bam Adebayo has been better than most realize, and he’s going to probably have his way with KU’s interior. I expect the Wildcats to feed him often, and I can’t wait for the backcourt battle.” Follow Matt’s work here.
Sam Vecenie (Game Theory)
Kansas 96, Kentucky 92. “Two elite teams coming off a loss. Not sure you can ask for more than that. They’re also among the best in the country on the perimeter and have some depth questions inside. I’d like for this game to be swung in two places: first, both Frank Mason and Devonte Graham are experienced players who shouldn’t be as rattled by Rupp. Second, who defends Josh Jackson? Seems like he’s the key player in this one. If he goes off, Kansas wins. I think he has a big game.” Follow Sam’s work here.