(18) Iowa at (24) Michigan State
Michigan State has an opportunity to build some momentum in the Big Ten against Iowa. To start, they will need to be able to contain the National Player of the Year candidate in Luka Garza. Therefore, Xavier Tillman and Malik Hall will need to have superior days on the defensive end. In addition, Cassius Winston must take advantage of going against a young backcourt in Iowa. Further, Aaron Henry must be able to get to the basket and score effectively in this game. Also, Rocket Watts must continue to emerge as a secondary scorer for Michigan State in an offensive game. The Michigan State defense must attack in transition and use Winston effectively in ball screens.
As for Iowa, they must continue to have Garza be the consistent factor he has been to allow others to contribute. Next, Joe Wieskamp must be more efficient on offense and be the overall scorer that he can be. Furthermore, the complementary piece of Ryan Kreiner allows Garza to be more effective inside with his ability to be a stretch four. Now, the depth of Iowa has been vital with the injuries to the likes of C.J. Frederick and Jordan Bohannon. Now, Bakari Evelyn is an emerging shooter off the bench for Iowa and Joe Toussaint is developing into a very solid guard who will need to defend Cassius Winston effectively. Michigan State, will hold serve at home against Iowa to get another big win.
Prediction: Michigan State 80 Iowa 72
Rutgers at (16) Penn State
These two programs have had exceptional seasons and will both end long NCAA tournament droughts. As for Rutgers, can they show their capabilities to go on the road and get a major win? To do so, they will need to have an exceptional game from Geo Baker scoring very effectively on the perimeter. In addition, Ron Harper Jr. will need to be able to play with his physicality to score around the basket. A key for Rutgers will be to contain Lamar Stevens effectively and Akwasi Yeboah must be able to do so. Also, Rutgers will need a bench player to emerge as an additional defender with either Jacob Young or Paul Mulcahy as that guy.
Now, with Penn State, they must continue to get the perimeter to play as well as they are. Further, Myles Dread must continue to score on a high level for Penn State as Myreon Jones is slowly coming back to form. In addition, the length of Jamari Wheeler needs to be versatile on both ends of the floor and make key shots. Also, Mike Watkins needs to use his physicality against the Rutgers interior to have a great game. Next, Lamar Stevens needs to be their volume scorer and lead the way against Rutgers. Pat Chambers has gotten the most out of his team and will win another quality game over Rutgers.
Prediction: Penn State 77 Rutgers 65
LSU at Florida
If Florida is going to stay in the mix they must come away with quality wins and it can start with beating LSU. Further, for Florida Kerry Blackshear Jr. needs to be the dominant force inside he can be and use his size against the LSU frontcourt. Next, Noah Locke will need to make shots at a high level in this game against the length of LSU’s perimeter. In addition, Andrew Nembhard will need to be efficient on both ends in a matchup against Ja’Vonte Smart. Now, Keyontae Johnson against Skylar Mays will be a crucial matchup for Florida to win this game. Continued, Scottie Lewis must be able to score in transition by getting to the basket and also be able to defend the LSU perimeter at a high level throughout. Florida will need consistency on the offensive end to beat LSU.
As for LSU, they must use their athleticism to push the pace against Florida. Starting with Mays, if he can continue to score at a high level that will set the tone offensively. Further, Smart will need to play well against Nembhard and get to his spots offensively. Next, LSU must be able to contain the success of Blackshear Jr. inside therefore Emmitt Williams will need to have a productive game. Also, Trendon Watford must continue to be the versatile scorer for LSU to open up space for others. LSU will win with the ability to create more offense than Florida.
Prediction: LSU 83 Florida 76
Wisconsin at (19) Michigan
Michigan must continue to build quality wins and get back to the team that dominated in the Battle 4 Atlantis. First off, the health of Isaiah Livers must get better and he has to be their go-to scorer on the perimeter. Next, Zavier Simpson must control the offensive end of the floor by setting up his teammates consistently. He also needs to apply major pressure on the Wisconsin guards. In addition, Jon Teske will need to play well against Nate Reuvers in a crucial matchup inside. Furthermore, the versatility of Franz Wagner must be on display with his shooting and ability to get to the basket. The guard play of Eli Brooks and David DeJuilus must be there as secondary scorers. Michigan must be effective in the half-court defensively to win this game.
Now, with Wisconsin, they have gotten more consistency on the offensive end. To start the play of Aleem Ford will be crucial to stretch the defense and defend Franz Wagner. Also, Brad Davison must be very efficient on both ends in a difficult matchup against the Michigan guards. Further, D’Mitrik Trice must score at a high level. The emergence of Brevin Britzil off the bench as an energy guy and shot maker is key to their success. The inside presence of Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter will be key against Teske. If Michigan has Isaiah Livers they will come away with a win.
Prediction: Michigan 67 Wisconsin 64
Arizona State at UCLA
Mick Cronin has his UCLA team starting to play extremely well as of late in year one. First off, their success has started with the play of Chris Smith becoming a go-to scorer for UCLA who attacks very well. Next, Tyger Campbell has given them consistency at the point guard spot and he will have a massive challenge against Remy Martin. In addition, Jalen Hill has been very productive inside for UCLA and will need to play well against Romello White. Furthermore, the scoring punch off the bench in Jules Bernard has been key for UCLA and will be needed against Arizona State. Also, Mick Cronin has his team playing very good defense lately and will need to do so against Arizona State to win.
As for Arizona State, Bobby Hurley has his team playing at a very high level as of late. Further, the emergence of Alonzo Verge Jr. has been crucial off the bench with his scoring ability. Next, Martin is the guy who runs the show and must have a huge impact against Campbell. Also, if Rob Edwards can be the scorer he was against Oregon, their team goes to another level. Continued, the play of Romello White will be key against an effective big in Jalen Hill. In addition, Kimani Lawrence must emerge as a more consistent threat for Arizona State with his athletic ability. If the backcourt for Arizona State plays well they will beat UCLA. The dynamic play of Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge Jr. will be too much for UCLA to overcome.
Prediction: Arizona State 72 UCLA 64
Images Courtesy of, Black Shoes Diaries, MLive.com, Wolverine Wire
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”