(16) Michigan State at (20) Penn State
Michigan State is starting to play at a high level and has another opportunity against Penn State. Cassius Winston is playing at an elite level and is one of the best players in the country. The interior with Xavier Tillman is very productive on both ends of the floor. Now, the two most important players are Rocket Watts and Aaron Henry for Michigan State and are their keys to success. The perimeter defense of Henry against Myles Dread will be vital for Michigan State. Also, the play of Malik Hall will be important against the front line of Penn State. Michigan State needs to get out in transition to beat Penn State.
As for Penn State, the play of Dread has been crucial for Penn State without Myreon Jones at his best. Next, the interior play of Mike Watkins and Seth Lundy will be important to control the boards throughout. Also, they will need a high-level game from Lamar Stevens offensively to win this game. Penn State needs consistent play from Jamari Wheeler defensively in this game against Aaron Henry. The x-factor for Penn State is Jones who needs to play to his level to make them a dangerous team. Michigan State will continue to stay hot and win a major road game against Penn State.
Prediction: Michigan State 76 Penn State 70
(9) Maryland at Rutgers
This is the game for Rutgers to seal the deal in making the NCAA tournament. Now, the key for Rutgers winning this game will be their defense and causing Maryland to not function at a high level. In addition, slowing down Anthony Cowan will be a major key and Geo Baker could play a crucial role in doing so. They’ll also need to contain Jalen Smith throughout and they need Akwasi Seboah to play very well defensively. Next, Ron Harper Jr. will be playing very well for Rutgers as a scorer around the basket. Further, getting a big scorer off of the bench such as Jacob Young could be huge. Also, Rutgers must limit the penetration of Eric Ayala and Cowan getting to the basket throughout the game.
For Maryland, they must play very well early offensively to establish the momentum early. Furthermore, Cowan must play at a high level throughout to get the Maryland offense going. Jalen Smith playing at a high level can be a matchup problem for Rutgers. Also, Aaron Wiggins needs to play well to stretch the Rutgers’ defense with his shooting. If Maryland gets their offense going in this game they will win against Rutgers. Rutgers will find a way to get a massive win over Maryland at the RAC.
Prediction: Rutgers 61 Maryland 58
(14) Villanova at (8) Seton Hall
This will be an exceptional Big East battle and will give Seton Hall the opportunity to clinch the Big East title. Now, they must get an elite game with Myles Powell leading the way for Seton Hall. Next, Quincy McKnight will be very important with his defense against Collin Gillespie. In addition, Jared Rhoden will be very important giving additional scoring and defending Saddiq Bey in this game. Also, the Seton Hall interior will be very important with Sandro Mamukelashvili scoring a high level with his versatility. They’ll also need great rim protection from Romaro Gill and effective rebounding. Seton Hall’s defense will be key for them to clinch the Big East against Villanova.
Villanova needs a high-level game from Gillespie leading the way and initiating the Villanova offense. Also, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will be crucial in the interior against Gill and Mamukelashvili defensively. Next, Bey must use his size as an advantage to get shots offensively and to defend Powell at a high level. The x-factor for Villanova can be Jermaine Samuels who has the ability to get to the basket very effectively. This high-level game will be won by Seton Hall with Powell leading the way.
Prediction: Seton Hall 79 Villanova 74
(3) Dayton at Rhode Island
Dayton has a great opportunity to run through the A-10 regular season unbeaten and has one last big test on the road at Rhode Island. The pure dominance that Obi Toppin plays with is the key to Dayton and will set the tone against Rhode Island. Further, Jaylen Crutcher will be crucial with his scoring ability on the perimeter with his consistent shooting. Also, Rodney Chatman will need to continue to play well as an overall scorer for Dayton. Now, containing Fats Russell in this game will be the key to Dayton defensively. Ryan Mikesell with his stretch four ability plays very well with Toppin and is critical to their success. The x-factor for Dayton is Ibi Watson off of the bench who can score effectively.
Rhode Island will need a massive game form Russell, who will need to score 30 plus. In addition, Jeff Dowtin will need to be a reliable secondary option throughout this game. Cyril Langevine needs to play at an extremely high level in defending Toppin throughout the game. Further, Tyrese Martin needs to score throughout this game and defend the Dayton perimeter consistently. Also, Jermaine Harris will need to bring his rebounding ability throughout in this game on both ends. This Dayton team is special and will continue with its dominance of the A-10 against Rhode Island.
Prediction: Dayton 81 Rhode Island 71
(23) Illinois at (19) Ohio State
Ohio State is starting to get back to form as being a quality team and a potentially dangerous one. The play of the perimeter for Ohio State has been key to their success and CJ Walker with his poise and scoring throughout games is vital to their success. Also, Duane Washington is very important with his shooting ability to stretch the Illinois defense. Next, Luther Muhammad is giving consistency on both ends of the floor and will need to play well against the Illinois perimeter. If Ohio State will win they must contain Ayo Dosunmu from getting to the basket consistently. Further, the play of Kaleb Wesson will be very important to their success against the front line of Illinois. The play of Andre Wesson is key for their success with his versatility and he will be key guarding Andres Feliz and AJ Griffin.
As for Illinois, they will need the best out of Dosunmu scoring very efficiently against the perimeter of Ohio State. Next, Trent Frazier will need to bring good defense on Ohio State’s perimeter and score effectively. In addition, Andes Feliz will be key for Illinois on both ends in a matchup against Andre Wesson. Also, Kofi Cockburn will be vital in this game against Kaleb Wesson in the matchup of bigs inside. If Illinois can takeaway the perimeter shooting of Ohio State they will have a great chance to win. The perimeter of Ohio State will continue to play great and get another quality win over Illinois.
Prediction: Ohio State 73 Illinois 66
Images Courtesy of, AP News, Dayton Daily News, Detroit Free Press
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