Purdue at (4) Iowa
This matchup will present Luka Garza with his most unique matchup going up against Zach Edey, who is 7-foot-3. Having him and Trevion Williams will give Purdue an opportunity to contain Garza without potentially bringing a double team consistently. The backcourt of Iowa with Jordan Bohannon and C.J. Frederick must get it going if Iowa’s going to win the Big Ten and National Championship. Therefore, this is a great game to get going with an inconsistent Purdue perimeter. For Purdue, the return of Eric Hunter has been huge with his size and scoring ability on the perimeter. The youth of Purdue must continue to evolve and become factors in the rotation. How Purdue contains the frontcourt of Iowa in Jack Nunge and the versatile Joe Wieskamp will be key. The scoring ability of Iowa will be too much for Purdue to handle.
Matchup to Watch: Luka Garza vs Zach Edey
Prediction: Iowa 86 Purdue 77
(7) West Virginia at (3) Kansas
If West Virginia is going to win at Kansas, this is the year to do it. The frontcourt for West Virginia needs to dominate in the paint with scoring opportunities and rebounding. Therefore, the matchup of Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver against David McCormick will be interesting to watch. The play of Miles McBride has been terrific and will need to be against Marcus Garrett’s defense. The ability for West Virginia to guard Jalen Wilson will be interesting. The 3-point shooting of Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil for West Virginia will be imperative in this game. Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson must score at a high level for Kansas to pull out this victory. Ultimately, Kansas will find a way to get a huge win over West Virginia.
Matchup to Watch: Marcus Garrett Defense vs Miles McBride
Prediction: Kansas 72 West Virginia 68
(22) Xavier at (13) Creighton
The level of competition will step up in this game for Xavier going on the road to Creighton. Therefore, the ability for Xavier to score consistently in the game will be key to keep up with the high-powered offense of Creighton. The addition of Adam Kunkel proves to be important in this game with his shooting ability. The play of Paul Scruggs will be important defensively on Marcus Zegarowski. The frontcourt battle will be very intriguing with the versatility of both teams. Zach Freemantle will need to be the better player against Damien Jefferson and Christian Bishop for Xavier to win. Denzel Mahoney will be a matchup problem for Xavier with his size and scoring ability. For Creighton, they will need Zegarowski to be at his best and have Mitch Ballock be the game changing shooter he is. Overall, Creighton’s consistent scoring will outlast Xavier in this game.
Matchup to Watch: Marcus Zegarowski vs Paul Scruggs
Prediction: Creighton 82 Xavier 75
UCLA at (25) Oregon
This game is critical to establish the top of the PAC-12 and someone must emerge. The versatility of Oregon is really good, but their roles are all over the place and they need to establish consistency. The play of Eugene Omoruyi has been very good for Oregon with his interior scoring and athleticism. The shooting ability of Chris Duarte is critical for Oregon’s offensive firepower. The point guard play is important for Oregon needing Amauri Hardy to provide stability. The frontcourt for UCLA will need to be at its best with the size and physicality Oregon possesses. UCLA needs Tyger Campbell to take advantage of Oregon not having that true point guard. The ability of Chris Smith needs to start showing up for UCLA to reach their overall potential. The 3-point shooting for UCLA will be key with Johnny Juzang and Jake Kyman. These two teams have proven to have more to give, but the defined roles in UCLA will prevail in this game.
Matchup to Watch: Chris Smith vs Eric Williams Jr.
Prediction: UCLA 74 Oregon 69
(11) Rutgers at (23) Ohio State
Rutgers will look to continue to build upon their great start to the season on the road at Ohio State. Ron Harper Jr. is playing like an All-American player and Ohio State needs Kyle Young’s toughness to matchup with Harper’s. The backcourt battle of Jacob Young against C.J. Walker will be a very good one with both being similar players. Further, the shooting and scoring of Geo Baker for Rutgers will be important as he will likely continue to come off the bench. Therefore, the shooting of Duane Washington Jr. will be important for Ohio State to stretch the Rutgers’ defense. The matchup for Rutgers that will be imperative for them to win is containing E.J. Liddell who is playing at a very high level. Therefore, Myles Johnson and Cliff Omaruyi will need big days defensively. Ohio State will come away with a massive win over a tough Rutgers team.
Matchup to Watch: Rutgers Front Court vs E.J. Liddell
Prediction: Ohio State 75 Rutgers 72
Images Courtesy of, KUsports.com, The Quad-City Times, uclabruins.com
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