(13) West Virginia at (1) Baylor
West Virginia has a major task going on the road to take on Baylor. To start, the bigs must provide trouble for Freddie Gillespie inside and make him less effective. Therefore, Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe both need to be exceptional on the offensive and defensive end, especially on the boards. In addition, the backcourt for West Virginia must be great on defense. Further, the size of Jermaine Haley and Miles McBride must be able to defend MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell and Davonte Bandoo. In addition, the play of Jordan McCabe will be vital against Jared Butler who is one of the best guards in the country. They also need to get more offense from Miles McBride who needs to make shots consistently in this game.
Now, with Baylor, their success will continue with Gillespie being very effective inside and against Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver containing them throughout. Furthermore, Jared Butler must attack the West Virginia defense and get his offense going early. as well as, Teague and Mitchell staying very consistent in their roles. Continuing, Mark Vital is the ultimate player for Baylor who will defend everyone in West Virginia effectively. Baylor will beat West Virginia in a very close game.
Prediction: Baylor 72 West Virginia 66
(20) Illinois at Rutgers
Illinois is coming off a very tough home loss against Michigan State. Next, they have an opportunity to give Rutgers their first home loss of the season. The health of Ayo Dosunmu is a major question mark for Illinois with the uncertainty of his injury. If he is out, the play of Trent Frazier will need to elevate as the primary go-to player on the perimeter. Andres Feliz needs to be a very effective scorer for Illinois attacking the basket. In addition, the interior for Illinois could have a very good day against the Rutgers’ frontline with Kofi Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishville being heavily utilized. In addition, the player who could step up for Illinois could be Alan Griffin.
As for Rutgers, they must hold serve at home to continue to build that resume. The play of Geo Baker must continue to elevate and will be big against the Illinois backcourt. Now, Akwasi Yeboah must have a very good day against the Illinois frontline that could cause major problems. Furthermore, Ron Harper Jr. can use his physicality against the Illinois perimeter and get to the basket effectively. Also, Caleb McConnell must continue to be a solid secondary scorer for Rutgers. If Dosunmu is out for Illinois, Rutgers must attack their perimeter throughout. Rutgers will hold serve against Illinois with the uncertainty of Dosunmu’s status.
Prediction: Rutgers 65 Illinois 56
(9) Maryland at Michigan State
Can Michigan State continue to carry the momentum from their win over Illinois? They have a major opportunity against Maryland to start, but they must be able to contain the production of Jalen Smith. Therefore, Xavier Tillman must have a good day defensively and look to attack on the offensive end. Next, Cassius Winston must play at an elite level against another great point guard in Anthony Cowan. In addition, Aaron Henry must continue to look to be an offensive threat and defend the Maryland perimeter at a high level. Michigan State has to continue to get a great offensive game from Rocket Watts. If Michigan State can defend the Maryland perimeter they will have a great opportunity to win this game.
As for Maryland, they have an opportunity to show their truly Big Ten favorites. Now, Cowan must play at a high level on both ends against Winston. Continuing, Jalen Smith must be able to stretch Tillman away from the basket to open driving lanes for the Maryland perimeter, as well as, having a very solid game inside with one on one opportunities. Next, Eric Ayala must continue to attack the offensive end looking to score with Aaron Wiggins looking for his shot as well. Further, Darryl Morsell will have a strong chance to have a major impact on defending Michigan State’s perimeter. Michigan State will come away with another huge win over Maryland.
Prediction: Michigan State 78 Maryland 73
(20) Houston at SMU
Houston is starting to come into form and playing very well leading the American Athletic Conference. To start with the Houston guard play, Caleb Mills and Dejon Jarreau are players who need to score very effectively off of the bench to show this team’s depth. In addition, Nate Hinton is one of the best rebounding guards in the country and is developing into a lead guard. Houston also needs to get consistent play from Quinten Grimes on both ends of the court. The perimeter defense for Houston is very active and will look to disrupt SMU’s guards. Another key for Houston is the consistency from Fabian White and Charles Harris inside.
For SMU, if they are going to win this game, they must have a huge game from Kendric Davis as a distributor and scorer. As well as, getting consistent play from Tyson Jolly against the tough Houston backcourt. Next, Isiah Mike must be an interior prescience against Houston and be a go-to option. If the guard play of SMU delivers they will have an opportunity to against a stingy Houston team. Houston will continue to ride their momentum and come away with a solid win against SMU.
Prediction: Houston 67 SMU 60
Indiana at Michigan
This is a very important game for Michigan as they are trying to get an at large bid to the NCAA tournament. For starters, Michigan needs to get the best of Isaiah Livers as it gives them a dependable go-to option. In addition, Zavier Simpson must be able to be effective as a scorer against Indiana and operate the offense very effectively with his defense against Indiana. In addition, Jon Teske and Brandon John’s are going to have a big task against Trayce Jackson-Davis defensively. Also, Franz Wagner can stretch the Indiana defense with his size and versatility. The secondary options in the backcourt with David DeJulius and Eli Brooks must make offense happen consistently. If Michigan gets the offense going effectively they will win against Indiana.
As for Indiana, the offense must go through Trayce Jackson-Davis as he is a dominant inside scorer. Also, Rob Phinisee will need to have a very effective day against Zavier Simpson on both ends of the court. Furthermore, the frontcourt of Indiana can be very active on the boards with Joey Brunk and Justin Smith being very effective. Now, if Al Durham can defend Isaiah Livers effectively they will have a great opportunity to win. Michigan has a new life with Isaiah Livers back and will get a quality win against Indiana.
Prediction: Michigan 76 Indiana 70
Images Courtesy of, Baylor University Athletics, NJ.com, SB Nation
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”