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College Basketball Week 17 Weekend Preview

(7) Duke at Virginia

Duke is coming off a terrible performance against Wake Forest and must show up against Virginia. Furthermore, the inability to defend dribble penetration for Duke must improve if they will achieve their team goals. Next, against Virginia, they will need to have exceptional play from Tre Jones and Vernon Carey Jr. as those are their two consistent threats. In addition, Cassius Stanley must step up as a more consistent scorer and defend the perimeter effectively. They also need more production from Matthew Hurt in all aspects. Also, Wendell Moore and Alex O’Connell need to be consistent players who produce very well in their specific roles. Duke needs to figure out their defensive woes to reach their ceiling.
For Virginia, a win here and they will be looking at an NCAA tournament appearance. The point guard battle of Kihei Clark against Jones will be a vital part of this game. Next, Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff will need to play very well defensively against Carey Jr. Further, Tomas Woldentensae has emerged as a perimeter scorer for Virginia and will need to keep that up against Duke. Also, Braxton Key will be a factor giving key scoring and playing great defense on Wendell Moore and Cassius Stanley. The Virginia pace will be extremely beneficial in this game against Duke. Lastly, Virginia will find a way to win this game late and lock up an NCAA tournament bid.
Prediction: Virginia 62 Duke 57

(16) Penn State at (18) Iowa

Image result for luka garzaThe continued tough battle in the Big Ten continues with Penn State and Iowa going head to head. For Iowa, they need C.J. Frederick back soon to create a more dynamic backcourt. In addition, they must continue to feed Luka Garza and make sure he has a dominant game against the Penn State interior. Furthermore, Ryan Kreiner has stepped up for Iowa as a stretch four who can play a big role in this game. Joe Wieskamp needs to step up his game as an overall shooter and become the true perimeter threat for Iowa. The consistency from Connor McCaffery has helped stabilize the Iowa backcourt with his versatility. Now, the Iowa defense will be their key against Penn State especially Lamar Stevens will be key.
Penn State will need to get back on track with having a huge game from Lamar Stevens. In addition, if they can contain Garza they will have a great opportunity to win this game. Further, the play of Myles Dread has been great and he must continue to shoot at a high level without Myreon Jones. Also, the versatility of Jamari Wheeler will be key against Wieskamp. Mike Watkins must emerge as a more effective big for Penn State to become a team that is very dangerous. Iowa will come away with a big win over a very solid Penn State team.
Prediction: Iowa 77 Penn State 73

(13) Seton Hall at Marquette

Marquette could use a quality win over Seton Hall to get back on track. Further, if they are going to do this they must get quality scoring outside of Markus Howard. In addition, Sacar Anim and Brendan Bailey need to be able to provide scoring from the perimeter throughout the game consistently. Also, Koby McCewen needs to be able to attack the basket throughout and make plays for others. The bench must be able to set up as well with getting quality minutes from Greg Elliot and Jamal Cain. The Golden Eagles need a performance from Markus Howard that exceeds the play of Myles Powell.
Now, with Seton Hall, they must continue to get players outside of Myles Powell playing extremely well. This starts with Sandro Mamukelashvili’s versatility for Seton Hall and his ability to cut effectively to get easy opportunities. In addition, Jared Rhoden has stepped up in a major way and will need to continue to provide key scoring. Also, the rim protection of Romaro Gill must be there and provide easy opportunities around the basket. Next, Quincy McKnight needs to defend Howard throughout and be very effective in doing so. If Seton Hall defends throughout this game they will win this game against Marquette. Seton Hall will come away with an impressive road win against Marquette.
Prediction: Seton Hall 69 Marquette 62

(15) Auburn at (8) Kentucky

Image result for immanuel quickleyThis is a huge game between the two best teams in the SEC fighting for the regular-season title. Now, the play of Immanuel Quickley for Kentucky has been exceptional, as he is putting himself in a position to win SEC player of the year. In addition, Ashton Hagans has done a tremendous job facilitating the offense and will need to continue to do so against Auburn. Also, Tyrese Maxey must find more consistency in his play offensively to enhance the best backcourt in the country. Furthermore, Nick Richards needs to continue to be really effective for Kentucky on both ends of the floor versus the Auburn frontline. Continued, E.J. Montgomery must help provide depth for Kentucky and bring frontcourt production. Kentucky will win this game if they can get out in transition consistently and defend the Auburn perimeter throughout.
For Auburn, they will need to have a huge game from the perimeter including J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty. They must be able to contain the dynamic ability of Kentucky’s perimeter. Anfernee McLemore and Austin Wiley need to be really productive for Auburn to win this game. The versatility of Issac Okoro will be huge as he needs to be able to shut down a part of the Kentucky backcourt. The dynamic guard play of Kentucky will be too much for Auburn.
Prediction: Kentucky 79 Auburn 73

(24) Michigan State at (9) Maryland

Maryland has an opportunity to stay atop the Big Ten and really push towards the regular-season title against Michigan State. Furthermore, the point guard battle will be exceptional with Anthony Cowan going up against Cassius Winston. In addition, Jalen Smith will need to have a great game against Xavier Tillman inside. Also, the emergence of Aaron Wiggins as a consistent scorer elevates Maryland to another level and will need to do so moving forward. Eric Ayala needs to be able to attack effectively and defend well against the perimeter of Michigan State. Next, Darryl Morsell’s versatility will be key against Aaron Henry to limit his offensive ability. Maryland will need to keep consistency offensively against the Michigan State defense.
For Michigan State, this is the time to get hot. If they beat Maryland, Winston will lead the way throughout. In addition, Rocket Watts has stepped up as the secondary scoring option for Michigan State. Also, the interior defense on Smith will be vital throughout this game and Tillman will have that biggest task. Further, Henry must play great on the defensive end to limit Wiggins in this game and make key shots offensively. If Michigan State will win they must be great in transition and on the boards. Michigan State will get a massive win against Maryland on the road.
Prediction: Michigan State 74 Maryland 72

Images Courtesy of, ACC Sports.com, Lexington Herald-Leader, Sports Illustrated

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