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College Basketball Week 1 Midweek Preview

(3) Kansas vs (4) Duke

The first game of the champions classic features two premier programs. The battle of the guards in Devon Dotson for Kansas and Tre Jones will be fascinating. Now, for Duke, this will be the deepest team they have had in some years. Tre Jones will be leading the way at point guard and the strength of this team will be the frontcourt. Matthew Hurt and Vernon Carey can play very well together with two different styles of play. Next, the biggest question mark is the production from the wings in Wendell Moore, Cassius Stanley, and Joey Baker all are capable of contributing greatly. Furthermore, the glue guys on this team in Jordan Goldwire, Javin DeLaurier, and Jack White all know their roles and will be important pieces.
As for Kansas, they have the NCAA situation looming, but this team is extremely talented. This starts with Udoka Azubuike who is a force inside and a matchup problem. As well as, having depth inside with Silvio De Sousa, David McCormick, and Mitch Lightfoot. Also, the wings on this team will contribute very well with Ochai Agabi, Jalen Wilson and Isaiah Moss who play important roles. The backcourt led by Dotson who will ignite this offense along with Marcus Garrett’s great defense. Kansas has the experience and can match the Blue Devils’ depth, therefore Kansas will prevail in the opener.

 

Prediction: Kansas 77 Duke 72

(1) Michigan State vs (2) Kentucky

Michigan State and Kentucky will battle as the AP Poll’s top two teams. The battle at the point guard position will be exceptional with Cassius Winston for Michigan State and Ashton Hagans for Kentucky. For Michigan State, they must build off the success of last year to get over the hump and win a National Championship. This starts with Winston being the best point guard in the country who must continue to develop as a complete guard. Also, the development of Aaron Henry on the offensive end will be vital for Michigan State. Next, Xavier Tillman will be the go-to big and who will produce double-doubles consistently. In addition, Marcus Bingingham Jr. and Rocket Watts are the keys for this team as they must be additional threats to score and defend.
For Kentucky, their success will start with Hagans leading the way. Now, the depth of the backcourt will be great with Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley and Johnny Juzang who can stretch the defense. The frontcourt must be able to be a strength with Nick Richards, and graduate transfer Nate Sestina leading the way along with E.J. Montgomery. The freshman wing in Khalil Whitney is the most important player as he must be a volume scorer and solid defender. This game will be a matchup of two great teams, but the experience of Michigan State will outlast Kentucky in the opener.

Prediction: Michigan State 76 Kentucky 74

(5) Louisville at Miami

Louisville has National Championship expectations as they open on the road at Miami. Jordan Nwora will need to elevate his game as an elite scorer and overall player they lean on. Fresh Kimble is the key for this team who needs to get off to a good start against a good guard in Chris Lykes. Also, the strength of this team in the frontcourt, with Steven Enoch, Dwayne Sutton and when Malik Williams is back. In addition, Ryan McMahon will give them a knockdown shooter with experience and Darius Perry gives an edge to the backcourt also. The freshman in Samuell Williamson and David Johnson will able to develop and prove to add depth to this team.
Miami must look to get back on track this season under Jim Larranaga. This starts with Lykes who can score at a high level, but best improve as an overall passer. In addition, Nasir Brooks will add toughness to the frontcourt with Kieth Stone when he’s healthy. Also, Sam Waardenburg and Dejan Vasiljevic stretch the defense with their ability to knock down perimeter jumpers. The biggest factor for this team is Kameron McGusty and Anthony Walker being versatile scoring options and defenders to defend the other teams’ best scorers. Louisville will jump out to a strong start in the opener, as Miami isn’t ready to compete at the top of the ACC yet.

 

Prediction: Louisville 84 Miami 68

(20) Saint Mary’s vs Wisconsin

These two teams will be playing into March competing in the NCAA tournament. The matchup in the backcourt with Jordan Ford for St. Mary’s and Brad Davison will be exciting. For Wisconsin, they are moving on from Ethan Happ and now Nate Reuvers is primed for a huge season in that role. The backcourt, in addition to Brad Davison, will have D’Mitrik Trice who is capable of scoring at a very good clip looking to stay more consistent. Next, Brevin Pritzil and Kobe King are capable of being extra additions to the backcourt as well. In addition, Aleem Ford is capable of being a force on the perimeter inside and out as well as defensively.
St. Mary’s will be looking to compete with Gonzaga for the top of the WCC. Further, they will be led by Ford who is an underrated point guard nationally who contributes in all aspects. Next, Malik Fitts will further develop into a force with great offensive efficiency. In addition, Matthias Tass showed promise last season and could elevate his game to be a factor in the frontcourt with his athleticism. Tanner Krebs is a very good scorer on the perimeter next to Jordan Ford with his experience and Logan Johnson adds depth to the perimeter. This will be a very good game, but the ability for St. Mary’s to be more consistent in the backcourt will deliver them a big win over Wisconsin.

Prediction: St Mary’s 66 Wisconsin 62

Notre Dame at (9) North Carolina

As the ACC goes to 20 regular season games we get a more experienced Notre Dame team on the road in North Carolina. North Carolina has a roster that will need time to come together with the additions and departures. Cole Anthony will be the leading guard with his high-level intensity and ability to score the basketball. Also, two graduate transfers in Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce will both be good scoring options with experience. In addition, the frontcourt must show development with Garrison Brooks taking the next step with Sterling Manley as well. Armando Bacot will have the opportunity to make a major impact immediately. Further, Leaky Black has the potential to be a solid piece off the bench with his athleticism.
Notre Dame will lean on John Mooney who consistently produces double-doubles. In addition, Nate Laszewski will have the opportunity to showcase his growth and versatility offensively. Also, the backcourt must prove it’s capability with T.J. Gibbs and Prentiss Hubb who will have a major challenge containing Cole Anthony. Juwan Durham adds another body in the frontcourt who will contribute as well. Notre Dame is primed to have a bounce-back season, but it will take time as North Carolina is too talented and Cole Anthony is a problem.

Prediction: North Carolina 88 Notre Dame 75

Cincinnati at (18) Ohio State

The battle of Ohio will kick off the John Brannen era for Cincinnati. This game will feature two of the country’s best with Jarron Cumberland for Cincinnati and Kaleb Wesson for Ohio State. For Cincinnati, they will be leaning on the scoring of Jarron Cumberland heavily. Also, the backcourt of Trevor Moore and Kieth Williams adds very good versatility and defensive toughness. Further, Tre Scott will have the opportunity to show he’s developed and take the next step in the matchup against Kaleb Wesson. In addition, the X factor will be Jaevin Cumberland who can add scoring to a team outside of Jarron Cumberland when he struggles to score.
Ohio State is coming in with expectations under Chris Holtmann in year two. They will be led by Kaleb Wesson who is a force offensively in the post who is a tough matchup. Also, the wings have very solid players with Andre Wesson and Luther Muhammad who are capable of a big improvement offensively. In addition, the talented freshman will play a big role as well with D.J. Carton, E.J. Liddell and Alonzo Gaffney looking to stand out. Continued, C.J. Walker will have the opportunity to make an impactful addition to the backcourt with his experience. Ohio State has more talent than Cincinnati even with Cincinnati having Jarron Cumberland. Cincinnati will show tough defense as well, but the talent and mismatch of Kaleb Wesson will propel Ohio State.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 71 Cincinnati 64

(11) Virginia at Syracuse

The defending champions open up on the road to the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. Virginia will be leaning on veterans Braxton Key and Mamadi Diakite for scoring and defense in the frontcourt. Kihei Clark will show progress on the offensive end with his superior defense. Further, the biggest question make will be the perimeter scoring it will be up to Tomas Woldentensae and Casey Morsell to provide an additional scoring punch. In addition, look for Jay Huff to make a name for himself as he brings great spacing and versatility offensively.
Syracuse, has a very deep, but inexperienced team. The scoring will be led by Elijah Hughes who can score at all three levels. Also, the backcourt will have help with Buddy Boeheim’s ability to hit jumpers as well as Brycen Goodine giving an immediate spark. Furthermore, the frontcourt needs to show development with Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe to take the next step. Virginia is coming in with the roster shuffling and Syracuse is home with the additional depth. However, the presence of Mamadi Diakite and Braxton Key with the added team defense of Virginia will be too much for Syracuse.

Prediction: Virginia 56 Syracuse 50

Images Courtesy of, Courier-Journal, Eleven Warriors, NCAA.com

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