(9) Maryland at (20) Illinois
Maryland has another opportunity to get a massive road win against Illinois. They are looking like the best team in the Big Ten and that starts with Jalen Smith. Further, he has taken the next step forward in his game with being able to stretch the defense consistently and dominate inside. In addition, Anthony Cowan is a guy they will continue to lean on to make big shots and needs to play well against Ayo Dosunmu. Furthermore, Aaron Wiggins is starting to shoot the ball more consistently for Maryland. In addition, they will need Eric Ayala to play well as a secondary option who can get to the basket. Also, the defense of Darryl Morsell could be vital against Ayo Dosunmu.
As for Illinois, Ayo Dosunmu must continue to lead their offensive attack and be able to win the matchup against Anthony Cowan. Also, Kofi Cockburn needs to bring his physicality in this game against Jalen Smith and dominate the boards. As well as, Giorgi Bezhanishville needs to be able to contain Jalen Smith when he steps out to the perimeter. Next, Trent Frazier and Andres Feliz must be secondary scorers for Illinois against the deep Maryland backcourt. Illinois must push the tempo against Maryland to force them to keep up. Illinois is going to get a huge win over Maryland with Ayo Dosunmu leading the way.
Prediction: Illinois 75 Maryland 69
(18) LSU at (11) Auburn
LSU has a great opportunity to win a huge game against Auburn and show its for real in the SEC. To start, Ja’Vonte Smart sets the tone with his physical play at the point and is a more complete scorer. Next, the versatility of Marlon Taylor has been very big for LSU and his scoring off the bench is a major boost. Furthermore, the athleticism on the frontline is huge with their dominance on the offensive boards. Also, Emmitt Williams and Darius Days have very good size and the ability to score effectively. The emergence of Trendon Watford being a go-to scorer for LSU is huge with his ability to face up and make jumpers consistently. LSU must contain Samir Doughty from being very effective.
Now for Auburn, the veteran-laden team has an opportunity to win a big game against LSU. J’Von McCormick needs to play very well against Smart by using his speed against the size of Smart. In addition, Austin Wiley has a big task on the defensive glass as LSU is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. Furthermore, Samir Doughty must be a volume scorer for Auburn and he will have to go against good size in the LSU backcourt. In addition, guys like Danjel Purifoy and Anferee McClemore must use their size and athleticism against a frontcourt of LSU with versatile pieces. Will Wade will lead LSU to a huge win against Auburn on the road.
Prediction: LSU 68 Auburn 64
(12) Seton Hall at (10) Villanova
This is the battle of the two best teams in the Big East and this has a crucial impact on the Big East. As for Villanova, their main objective will be to contain the Star in Myles Powell limiting his scoring ability. The player who could step up in that assignment is Saddiq Bey who provides very good size and versatility to defend Powell. Another is getting very good point guard play from Collin Gillespie leading the way on both ends. Next, Jermaine Samuels needs to emerge as a major threat in this game as Seton Hall doesn’t have the same size at the wings to contain him. In addition, Justin Moore must continue to provide very good scoring off the bench for Villanova. Also, the ability of Cole Swider to stretch the Seton Hall defense could be vital in this game. Jeremiah Robison-Earl must handle the physicality well from the frontline in Seton Hall.
Seton Hall needs Powell to be exceptional leading the way for Seton Hall offensively. Next, the return of Sandro Mamukelashvili provides very good depth and versatility for the frontcourt of Seton Hall. The impact of Quincy McKnight is huge with his defense and will be crucial against the Villanova offense. Also, Jared Rhoden must continue to step up as a versatile piece for Seton Hall. The impact that Romaro Gill will be crucial with his rim protection and ability to score effectively inside for Seton Hall. Seton Hall’s team defense will be vital against Villanova. Villanova will win a tough game against a very good Seton Hall team.
Prediction: Villanova 73 Seton Hall 70
Virginia at (6) Louisville
Virginia has a massive opportunity to secure an NCAA tournament bid with a win over Louisville. In order to do so, Kihei Clark will need to play exceptional on both ends with him attacking the basket and applying great ball pressure. In addition, Mamadi Diakite needs to have a big game offensively and defensively against the Louisville front line in Steven Enoch and Malik Williams. Braxton Key needs to continue to be a scorer for Virginia who lacks offensive firepower and he will match up well defensively with Jordan Nwora. Also, Jay Huff needs to be able to stretch the Louisville defense with his shooting ability. Virginia needs to have a very good day offensively for them to win this game.
Now for Louisville, they must continue to win in a pursuit for a no. 1 seed. Further, Jordan Nwora must continue to be a volume scorer for Louisville and be very consistent. In addition, Ryan McMahon has provided great shooting for Louisville and is a major x-factor for this team. Next, Steven Enoch must have a very effective game with a tough matchup against Diakite. Also, Fresh Kimble must continue to play well defensively against Clark. The offense for Louisville must find a way to break through the Virginia defense. Louisville will have too much shot-making with Ryan McMahon and Jordan Nwora to beat Virginia.
Prediction: Louisville 60 Virginia 55
(2) Gonzaga at St. Mary’s
This is an opportunity for Gonzaga to add another quality road win to their resume. To start, Filip Petrusev must continue to be a dominant force inside for Gonzaga with his great skill. Next, the backcourt of Gonzaga must contain Jordan Ford and that will be up to Ryan Woolridge and Admon Gilder. In addition, Corey Kispert must be the scorer he can be on the perimeter for Gonzaga. The emergence of Drew Timme has been exceptional in the absence of Killian Tille as Gonzaga has the best frontcourt in the country. Furthermore, the versatility of Joel Ayayi is vital for the success of Gonzaga and he will be vital in guarding the perimeter of St. Mary’s.
As for St. Mary’s this is their major opportunity to make a resume-building win over Gonzaga. Their success will start with Jordan Ford who is a very good scorer and runs the offense very well. Ford must have a great game against the Gonzaga backcourt. Next, Malik Fitts has played extremely well for St. Mary’s with his size and versatility on the offensive end being a tough matchup. In addition, Dan Fotu will need to have a solid job defensively against the Gonzaga bigs in Filip Petrusev and Drew Timme. The shooting of Alex Ducas can be vital for St. Mary’s in making big shots. Gonzaga will go into St. Mary’s and come away with a massive win.
Prediction: Gonzaga 83 St. Mary’s 77
Images Courtesy of, The Advocate, Sports Illustrated, www.si.com
You can “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles written by other great TGH writers along with James!
“From Our Haus to Yours”