(10) Duke at (11) Michigan State
This will be the battle of the point guards with Cassius Winston and Tre Jones. It will be a vital game for both teams looking to add a huge win to their resume.
For Duke, they will have to manage the loss of Cassius Stanley to injury. This will lead Joey Baker into a role where he will need to step up. Also, the production of Wendell Moore must be there in this matchup against Aaron Henry. In addition, the focal point for this Duke team must be with Vernon Carey Jr. and winning inside out. Mathew Hurt must find his way offensively to be a knockdown shooter and Tre Jones will need to set the tone on both ends.
As for Michigan State, Cassius Winston starts it all. He must be at the top of his game against the defense of Tre Jones. Also, Aaron Henry must take advantage of the youth on the wings for Duke and have a big performance. Xavier Tillman must have a good game defensively in containing Carey in this game. The x-factor for Michigan State in this game could be the play of Rocket Watts as he could use his speed to score against the Duke defense.
The offensive and defensive boards will decide this game. The home court and experience of Michigan State will outlast Duke in this game.
Prediction: Michigan State 79 Duke 75
(4) Michigan at (1) Louisville
The two best teams in the country might be squaring off Tuesday when they both meet.
Michigan is off to a terrific start with wins over North Carolina and Gonzaga. The manner in which Zavier Simpson controls the game for Michigan is sensational. Furthermore, Isaiah Livers is developing into a very good scorer on the wing and is difficult to guard. In addition, Jon Teske will have a major test in containing the paint with Steven Enoch and Malik Williams. Franz Wager and Eli Brooks are playing extremely well in their roles and will be key for Michigan.
Now for Louisville, Jordan Nwora sets the pace an all-around scorer who will be key in containing Isaiah Livers as well. Furthermore, Enoch will need to have good performance inside against Teske and Williams. Fresh Kimble will have the most important job of matching the play of Simpson.
Overall this will be a very good game, but the point guard play of Michigan will determine this outcome.
Prediction: Michigan 72 Louisville 69
(5) Virginia at Purdue
The rematch of the Elite 8 game is going to be vastly different than their last meeting.
For Virginia, their play starts with the defensive end as they are only allowing 40.3 points per game. Furthermore, the play of Kihei Clark on both ends is great with his on-ball defense and ability to facilitate on offense. The loss of Braxton Key for Virginia will be a huge deal on both ends. Therefore, Casey Morsell and Justin McKoy will need to elevate their games to fill that void. Also, Mamadi Diakite will need to be a force in this game against Purdue’s bigs.
Purdue is still trying to figure out an identity offensively. Jahad Proctor will need to be an efficient scorer in this game. Being able to make perimeter jumpers in this game with Sasha Stefanovic and Eric Hunter will be huge. In addition, Matt Haarms and Trevion Williams need to be able to establish their presence on both ends against Mamadi Diakite. Furthermore, Nojel Eastern will be tasked with containing Kihei Clark to not allow him to get flow in the offense. The overall team defense of Virginia will be too much for Purdue in this game.
Prediction: Virginia 51 Purdue 46
Texas Tech at DePaul
Texas Tech is starting to search for answers with their roster and DePaul has found an identity.
To start with DePaul, they are off to a sensational start this season and are looking to continue with that momentum. The transfer of Charlie Moore has given DePaul a jolt offensively and he is the catalyst. Paul Reed is developing into a force for DePaul and gives them an inside presence and versatility defensively. Also, Romeo Weems is continuing to grow and will need to play well against Chris Clarke in this matchup. Jalen Coleman-Lands has the biggest job in this game as he will need to guard Davide Morretti and contain him effectively. Jaylen Butz needs to contribute inside to allow DePaul to have an advantage on the interior.
Texas Tech needs to figure things out and get healthy. The play of Davide Morretti will be a deciding factor in this game on both ends along with his efficiency. Also, Terrance Shannon and Kyler Edwards will need to continue to make plays offensively to spread out this DePaul defense. Chris Clarke and T.J. Holyfield will be tasked with containing Reed in this game that will be crucial.
The experience and overall skill of Texas Tech will be too much for DePaul to handle.
Prediction: Texas Tech 75 DePaul 65
(6) Ohio State at (7) North Carolina
Ohio State is playing well and the backcourt will be tested against North Carolina’s Cole Anthony. To continue with Ohio State, the freshman D.J. Carton will continue to develop and will play a key role in this game offensively. Also, C.J. Walker will be the lead point guard and must continue to play even-keeled. Ohio State could go with size to stop Cole Anthony. Therefore, Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington will need to contain Anthony. Next, Kaleb Wesson must be a major factor inside against Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot. The depth of Ohio State will be very important in this game.
As for North Carolina, Anthony must be at his best as Ohio State will send many different coverage looks. Next, Armando Bacot showed what he is capable of against Oregon he must be active against Kaleb Wesson. Further, Brandon Robinson and Christian Keeling will need to make timely shots and defend at a high level. For UNC they must turn the tempo up on Ohio State and take Kaleb Wesson out of this game.
The star power of Anthony will elevate UNC along with its style of play.
Prediction: North Carolina 82 Ohio State 75
Images Courtesy of, Associated Press, Dallas Morning News, MLive.com
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