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Louisville vs. Kentucky (05/13/13)

John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics
By John Ewing

Who would win, the 2013 Louisville Cardinals or the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats? We simulated the game to find out.

The state of Kentucky reigns supreme in college basketball with the Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals winning the NCAA Championship in back-to-back seasons. The intense rivalry between the two programs has raised the question, which team was better? Below we review the teams and then simulate the game to determine which school has bragging rights, 2012 Kentucky Wildcats or the 2013 Louisville Cardinals.

Teams

2012 Kentucky Wildcats (38-2, 16-0 SEC)

  • NCAA Champions, 8th in school history
  • SEC Regular Season Champions
  • 38 victories is the most in NCAA history
  • 15th Final Four appearance and 2nd in two years
  • Consensus All-Americans: Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

2013 Louisville Cardinals (35-5, 14-4 Big East)

  • NCAA Champions, 3rd in school history
  • Big East Regular Season Champions
  • Big East Tournament Champions
  • 10th Final Four appearance and 2nd in two years
  • 35 wins set a school record
  • Consensus All-Americans: Russ Smith

Coaches

Rick Pitino

Only men’s coach in NCAA history to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, Louisville) to a Final Four. Only coach in NCAA history to lead two different schools to a championship (Kentucky, Louisville). Elected into the 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame.

John Calipari

Led three different schools to the Final Four (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky) but UMass and Memphis were vacated by the NCAA. Only coach to have a Final Four appearance vacated at more than one school. Named National coach of the Year three times.

Players

Kentucky, Anthony Davis

Davis could block shots (set a freshman record with 186), rebound, run the floor, score in the low post or face up to the basket. He led the Wildcats in scoring, field goal percentage, rebounds, steals, and blocks plus was honored with a multitude of awards including: National Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, Consensus All-American, and National Defensive Player of the Year.

Player Year Min PPG RPG APG
Anthony Davis Freshmen 32 14.2 10.4 1.3
Doron Lamb Sophomore 31.2 13.7 2.7 1.5
Terrence Jones Sophomore 29.3 12.3 7.2 1.3
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Freshmen 31.1 11.9 7.4 1.9
Marquis Teague Freshmen 32.6 10 2.5 4.8
Darius Miller Senior 26.1 9.9 2.8 2.1
Kyle Wiltjer Freshmen 11.6 5 1.8 0.4

Louisville, Russ Smith

Smith was the offensive leader for the Cardinals averaging 18.7 points per game. In the tournament Smith increased his scoring average to 22.3 ppg. Smith was named a Third Team All-American and 1st Team All-Big East.

Player Year Min PPG RPG APG
Russ Smith Junior 30.3 18.7 3.3 2.9
Peyton Siva Senior 31.2 10 2.4 5.7
Gorgui Dieng Junior 31.1 9.8 9.4 2
Chane Behanan Sophomore 26.1 9.8 6.5 1.1
Luke Hancock Junior 22.4 8.1 2.6 1.4
Wayne Blackshear Sophomore 20.1 7.6 3.1 0.6
Montrezl Harrell Freshmen 16.2 5.7 3.6 0.2
Kevin Ware Sophomore 16.6 4.5 1.8 0.8

Matchups

2012, Kentucky vs. Louisville, UK wins 69-62

2012, Final Four, Kentucky vs. Louisville, UK wins 69-61

2013, Louisville vs. Kentucky, UL wins 80-77

Advantages

Kentucky - Talent

Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are far and away the best players on the court. Kentucky had six players drafted from their championship team with Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist going first and second overall. Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng is the highest rated draft prospect from the 2013 squad and is projected as a top 15 pick.

Louisville – Experience

Senior guard Peyton Siva led the Cardinals; four of the top five scorers were upper classmen. Montrezl Harrell was the only freshman that played significant minutes for Louisville. Kentucky’s team relied on freshmen and sophomores, only Darius Miller, a senior, played significant minutes.

So what wins out, talent or experience?

We simulated the annual Battle for the Bluegrass game with the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats against the 2013 Louisville Cardinals. Below we look at the outcome in a home and home series as well as a neutral site matchup.

2012 Kentucky vs. 2013 Louisville, Rupp Arena

  • Kentucky wins 63.2% of the time by an average score of 61-57

2013 Louisville vs. 2012 Kentucky, KFC Yum! Center

  • Louisville wins 60.8% of the time by an average score of 61-58

2012 Kentucky vs. 2013 Louisville, neutral site

  • Kentucky wins 51.3% of the time by an average score of 59-58.

These are two evenly matched teams but talent trumps experience with Kentucky defeating Louisville on a neutral site. 

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