Struggling Louisville faces its toughest test of the season Thursday when it plays host to in-state rival Kentucky at the KFC Yum! Center. This will mark the 56th meeting between the two historic programs and the Wildcats hold a 38-17 all-time edge over the Cardinals. 

No. 9 Kentucky is coming off its biggest win of the season against previous ninth-ranked North Carolina at the CBS Sports Classic. The Wildcats have won six of their last seven games dating back to a loss to preseason No. 1 Kansas in the Champions Classic and Kentucky's No. 1 high school recruiting class led by Aaron Bradshaw, Rob Dillingham, Justin Edwards, Reed Sheppard and D.J. Wagner is starting to hit its stride. 

As for Louisville, Year 2 of the Kenny Payne era has been a disaster. The Cardinals sit at 5-6 and recently broke their three-game losing streak with a win at home against Pepperdine last weekend. Payne, the former longtime Kentucky assistant, could be on the final days of his tenure at his alma mater unless things turnaround quickly. 

How to watch Kentucky vs. Louisville live

Date: Thursday, Dec. 21 | Time: 6 p.m. ET
Location: KFC Yum! Center -- Louisville, Kentucky
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
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Kentucky vs. Louisville prediction, picks

Odds via SportsLine consensus

Once upon a time, this rivalry game used to be one of, if not the premier nonconference game in the sport. Now, it's simply reduced to just one of the best rivalries in college basketball where one program is ranked in the top-10 and the other is on a massive free fall. That's not to say this game doesn't matter. If Louisville pulls off an upset over Kentucky, it would bring new life into the program and potentially lead to a turnaround. While that seems unlikely based on what we have seen this season, it's hard to imagine Louisville not getting up for this game at home against its greatest rival. Kentucky should win this game, but Louisville will keep it close enough in the second half to make things interesting. Prediction: Louisville +14

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