(6) Illinois at (10) Duke
This will be a very big game for both of these teams coming off disappointing losses to Michigan State and Baylor respectively. It will be a major test for an inexperienced backcourt of Duke for D.J. Steward and Jeremy Roach against Ayo Dosunmu. Matthew Hurt is playing at a high level for Duke and needs to take advantage of his skill set against Illinois’ frontcourt. This can be also said for Kofi Cockburn with Duke not having a true center operating in the paint. The game will be highlighted by two-star freshman in Adam Miller for Illinois and Jalen Johnson for Duke.
The secondary scoring options of Wendell Moore and Trent Frazier will be critical in this matchup. Whether this Duke offense make shots consistently to keep up with high powered offense of Illinois will be the deciding factor in this game? Overall, the experience of Illinois and scoring will be too much for Duke to handle.
Matchup to Watch: Duke’s Perimeter Defense vs Ayo Dosunmu
Prediction: Illinois 76 Duke 66
(8) Creighton at (5) Kansas
This will be the biggest game for Creighton in this season up to this point. Therefore, it will give them an ability to show their ability to be one of the best offenses in college basketball. Additionally, Marcus Zegarowski will need to play at a high level for Creighton to win this game, and going against Marcus Garrett will be a terrific matchup. Next, the shooting of Mitch Ballock will be key for Kansas to contain the 3-point shot in this game. Furthermore, the wings in this game with Denzel Mahoney and Antwann Jones will be important for Creighton along with Kansas’ Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson. Now, stylistically it will be a lot of five outlooks in this game both teams playing with a lot of pace and versatility offensively. Continuing, the frontcourt of these teams will be important with Creighton having more consistency with Christian Bishop.
Matchup to Watch: Marcus Garrett Defense vs Marcus Zegarowski
Prediction: Creighton 84 Kansas 78
(4) Michigan State at (18) Virginia
This game could be highlighted as the Hauser game with Joey and Sam Hauser going against each other. The defense of Virginia will be a major test for Michigan State to navigate consistently. Next, the offensive identity of Virginia must be continued to be figured either going with their five out concepts or the Blocker Mover offense. Furthermore, the perimeter defense for Virginia will be key against Rocket Watts containing his ability to make plays off the dribble, as well as containing the driving ability of Aaron Henry throughout the game.
Continuing, Virginia must shoot the ball at a high level and will need Sam Hauser at his best with Trey Murphy. Also, the rebounding margin will be key in this game as Michigan Stare dominates in that category Virginia will need to limit their dominance and control the game with their transition defense. The Virginia defense and Sam Hauser making shots will outlast Michigan State in this matchup.
Matchup to Watch: Kihei Clark vs Rocket Watts
Prediction: Virginia 63 Michigan State 60
(16) North Carolina at (3) Iowa
This will be Iowa’s first true test of the season with North Carolina in the ACC Challenge. It will be the greatest challenge for Luka Garza potentially on the season with North Carolina’s frontcourt depth. Therefore, North Carolina must contain Garza with Garrison Brooks and others to have a chance in this game. Furthermore, the perimeter for Iowa with Jordan Bohannon and C.J. Frederick is capable of taking over the game with their scoring. Therefore, the inexperience of R.J. Davis and Caleb Love will be tested in this matchup. Additionally, Joe Wieskamp could have an advantage against the wings of North Carolina. This will be a major road test for North Carolina and the offensive ability for Iowa will defeat North Carolina in this game.
Matchup to Watch: North Carolina’s Frontcourt vs Luka Garza
Indiana at (20) Florida State
Florida State will continue to evolve over the course of the season with their rotation and ability to play multiple players. Furthermore, Scottie Barnes will showcase his versatility and toughness on the defensive end in this game. Next, a very important matchup will be Trayce Jackson-Davis against Scottie Barnes most likely on the defensive end which could be tremendous. Additionally, the inside scoring for Florida Stare could be a major factor in this game with Balsa Koprivica’s ability.
Also, the perimeter scoring for Indiana will be key with Armaan Franklin and Rob Phinisee. Now, the point guard play for Indiana and Florida State has some questions which will be important to have success offensively. This is a major test for both teams to establish themselves as major factors within their conferences. The scoring ability of M.J. Walker will take over this game and Florida State’s tenacity will get a major win over Indiana.
Matchup to Watch: Scottie Barnes Defense vs Trayce Jackson-Davis
Prediction: Florida State 74 Indiana 68
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