Saint Louis at VCU
These two teams have the opportunity to make the NCAA Tournament, however both are coming off disappointing losses. Now as for VCU, Bones Hyland sets the tone for their offense in transition with his ability to get to the basket consistently. Additionally, Vince Williams is very important to their success on the wing with his ability to stretch the defense and rebound effectively. Further, Ace Baldwin will be really important in handling Jordan Goodwin throughout the game. Continued, the pace for VCU is imperative for them to win this game needing to dominate in transition and bring it defensively. The depth of VCU will play an important role in this game with players such as KeShawn Curry, Corey Douglas and Jamir Watkins.
For Saint Louis, Javonte Perkins must deliver offensively throughout this game and be stellar in his matchup against Hyland. Continued, Jordan Goodwin must be elite with his perimeter defense against VCU and be a major factor on the boards. Next, if Saint Louis will prove to be the best team in the A-10 they need Hasahn French to be more effective on the offensive end. Additionally, the perimeter shooting of Gibson Jimmerson is an x-factor in this game and will allow Saint Louis to take the next step on offense. The depth of Saint Louis will be important as VCU will always go deep into the bench they will need to match that. This is a statement game for both teams the veteran team in Saint Louis will come away with a massive win.
Matchup to Watch: Javonte Perkins vs Bones Hyland
Prediction: Saint Louis 70 VCU 66
(17) Kansas at (14) Texas
First off, this game means everything for Texas who has been struggling in the back half of Big 12 play. Next, the backcourt for Texas will need to be consistent throughout starting with Matt Coleman needing him to be efficient throughout. Further, Courtney Ramey is important on both ends and his ability to go going from the perimeter allows Texas to take it to the next level offensively. Along with, the consistency of Andrew Jones will be vital in this game. Now, the frontcourt must be more effective against David McCormick. They will need more from Greg Brown with his versatility and athleticism being able to be a difficult matchup for Kansas.
As for Kansas, they have played very well as of late with their defense really stepping up. Therefore, the perimeter defense against the Texas backcourt will be imperative to win this game. Continued, Marcus Garrett’s on-ball defense against Matt Coleman will be really important throughout. Furthermore, David McCormick must have a strong performance using his physicality against a more athletic Texas frontcourt. Additionally, the scoring ability of Jalen Wilson and Christian Braun will be important to get the Kansas offense going against Texas. Also, Ochai Agbaji must use his size against the Texas perimeter on both ends. Texas will get a massive win at home against Kansas moving towards the Big 12 tournament.
Matchup to Watch: Matt Coleman vs Marcus Garrett
Prediction: Texas 74 Kansas 69
(6) Alabama at (20) Arkansas
These two teams have all the offensive firepower that you could seek in a game. First off, with Arkansas, this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase themselves as the 2nd best team in the SEC. Now, Moses Moody delivers offensively for Arkansas consistently with his ability to hunt his shot in the mid-range and from 3. Along with, having the play of Jalen Tate allows being productive with scoring and the toughness he brings. Additionally, Justin Smith adds another element to this team giving them a mobile big. The perimeter defense for Arkansas will be vital against the potent perimeter of Alabama. Also, the Connor Vanover factor will be interesting with his ability to protect the lane and stretch defenses with his shooting.
As for Alabama, the defense on Moses Moody throughout will be imperative to their chances of winning with John Petty defending him. Furthermore, Herbert Jones has been tremendous on both ends and he must attack the frontcourt of Arkansas throughout. Additionally, the return of Jordan Bruner will be very interesting to see how it evolves to fitting back in. Next, the depth of Alabama is staggering with Jaden Shackleford, Jahvon Quinerly, and Keon Ellis off the bench speaks to their potential as a team. The defense of Alabama has been strong and will need another big performance against Arkansas. Overall, this will be another opportunity for Alabama to continue to move towards a top seed and they will deliver.
Matchup to Watch: Herbert Jones vs Justin Smith
Prediction: Alabama 84 Arkansas 78
(10) West Virginia at (2) Baylor
West Virginia has a massive opportunity to boost their resume to even higher heights with a road win at Baylor. Furthermore, Deuce McBride will need to be exceptional in this game going against an elite defensive backcourt with Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler. Additionally, Taz Sherman will need to come off the bench ready to produce offense throughout. Continued, the advantage West Virginia has is in the frontcourt with Derek Culver. Therefore, he must be the focal point of their offense to win this game. Additionally, Sean McNeil must deliver big-time shots from the perimeter to give West Virginia a great chance to win this game. As well as, having Emmitt Matthews and Jalen Bridges be great on the defensive end.
As for Baylor, this will be a major test coming off of their COVID pause. First off, this team is heavily dependent on Jared Butler’s offensive capabilities and will need him to be great yet again. As well as, having his backcourt teammate in Davion Mitchell being elite on defense and making plays offensively. Next, the versatility of Mark Vital will be crucial on the defensive end. Also, MaCio Teague will be vital with his size defensively against Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil. The key for Baylor will be containing Derek Culver needing Jonathan Tchatchoua and Flo Thamba will be imperative throughout this game. Overall, the defensive ability of Baylor will lead them to this win over West Virginia.
Matchup to Watch: Miles McBride vs Jared Butler
Prediction: Baylor 77 West Virginia 73
(9) Iowa at (3) Michigan
Iowa has an opportunity to prove it’s still among the top teams in the Big Ten. First off, with Iowa, the defense must be consistent throughout this game. Additionally, the matchup defensively will be Luka Garza defending Hunter Dickinson and the ability to defend effectively without fouling will be key. As well as, Luka Garza attacking Hunter Dickinson in the post throughout. Furthermore, Joe Wieskamp must play at the level great against the wings of Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner on both ends. Continued, the backcourt for Iowa will be vital offensively needing to make big shots with Jordan Bohannon and CJ Fredrick. The versatility of Keegan Murray is really important for Iowa especially defensively.
Now with Michigan, this will be a major test to keep their defense up against a potent Iowa offense. First off, it starts with slowing down Luka Garza throughout with Hunter Dickinson and Austin Davis. As well as, the backcourt of Eli Brooks and Mike Smith harassing the Iowa backcourt throughout. Continued, the scoring ability of Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner will be key to set the tone for Michigan. Overall, this will be a high-level game but the defense of Michigan will carry them to a victory.
Matchup to Watch: Hunter Dickinson vs Luka Garza
Prediction: Michigan 79 Iowa 76
Images Courtesy of, Alabama Crimson Tide, CBS Sports, Saint Louis University
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