Ohio State at (15) Rutgers
Rutgers will be looking to respond strongly to the loss to Michigan State. Myles Johnson will be a major focus in this matchup with his interior defense against E.J. Liddell. Offensively they will need to rely on Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker to play to their potential, as well as having the continued production from Montez Mathis making key shots.
First off, for Ohio State, their focus needs to establish Liddell as their focal point. Additionally, the play of C.J. Walker must be good especially against the ball pressure of Jacob Young. Duane Washington will need to be the go-to perimeter scorer for Ohio State with his shot making. The depth of Ohio State can play a key role in deciding this outcome. Rutgers will respond in a big way getting a very solid win over Ohio State.
Matchup to Watch: Myles Johnson vs E.J. Liddell
Prediction: Rutgers 72 Ohio State 66
(4) Texas at (14)West Virginia
West Virginia had a very up and down week with Oscar Tshiebwe leaving the program and a massive road comeback win at Oklahoma State. Now, they will look to keep that momentum going and with Derek Culver being the primary big will need to be that double-double machine. Taz Sherman has emerged with his ability to score the basketball with ease. Miles McBride will need to be great in this game using his size against Matt Coleman on both ends. Additionally, Sean McNeil is a game-changer for West Virginia with his 3-point shooting capabilities. The ability for West Virginia to consistently defend Texas will be key in winning this game.
As for Texas, they went into Kansas and took care of business and are looking to do the same thing here. Now, their success starts with Matt Coleman who sets the tone on both ends of the floor. Also, Andrew Jones’s ability to score the basketball will continue to be key for Texas to win this game. Furthermore, the duo up front for Texas causes problems with their size and length with Greg Brown, Jericho Sims and Kai Jones. Texas will continue its momentum on the road and slow down Culver to get a very good win.
Matchup to Watch: Matt Coleman vs Miles McBride
Prediction: Texas 73 West Virginia 71
(19) Clemson at North Carolina
North Carolina needs to play with way more effectiveness on the offensive end to reach their potential. Garrison Brooks needs to start playing to the level he did a year ago starting against Clemson. Day’Ron Sharpe must continue to produce as a big who is deceptively mobile enough to bully people with his skill. Now, the most important aspect for North Carolina is the growth of Caleb Love needing to be more efficient and be a quality offensive threat. The shot-making for North Carolina must improve with R.J. Davis and Kerwin Walton developing into consistent shooters. North Carolina’s defense will be imperative against Clemson who is playing very well.
For Clemson, the guy who is the most important player for Clemson is Nick Honor who sets the tone off the bench. Furthermore, the guard play of Al-Amir Dawes and Clyde Trapp have been effective and must take advantage of North Carolina’s youth. Additionally, Aamir Simms needs to play to his potential especially in the matchup against North Carolina’s frontcourt. Overall, Clemson’s consistency and experience will get the win on the road at North Carolina.
Matchup to Watch: Aamir Simms vs Day’Ron Sharpe
Prediction: Clemson 75 North Carolina 70
UCLA at Arizona
Arizona is flying under the radar in the PAC-12 getting off to a strong start to the season. The play of James Akinjo sets the tone for Arizona with his explosiveness and scoring. Azuolas Tubelis has been a key factor for Arizona giving them a dependable frontcourt option. Also, against a physical UCLA frontcourt, Jordan Brown will need to use his size and athleticism giving Arizona an edge in that position group. Additionally, an area Arizona could have great success is with their bench in Terrell Brown and Bennedict Mathurin bringing scoring.
UCLA must move forward without Chris Smith after losing him to a Torn ACL. Therefore, Jaime Jaquez and Johnny Juzang will be key with their ability to make shots. Tyger Campbell’s playmaking for others and his ball pressure defensively will be key. The emergence of Jules Bernard will be important moving forward for UCLA giving them a bigger guard. The overall depth of UCLA will be something to watch going forward. Arizona is going to come away with a statement win in the PAC-12 over UCLA.
Prediction: Arizona 78 UCLA 72
Matchup to Watch: James Akinjo vs Tyger Campbell
(16) Minnesota at (5) Iowa
Iowa will look to continue their offensive explosiveness against teams with an improving defense. Therefore, on the defensive end, they must slow down Marcus Carr. Additionally, C.J. Frederick and Jordan Bohannon have the ability to be a lethal backcourt and will need to prove that against Minnesota. Luka Garza needs to impose his will against Liam Robbins whose play determines the overall productivity of Minnesota. Also, Joe Wieskamp must continue to play at a high level on both ends and take advantage of the Minnesota wings.
For Minnesota, the ability of Robbins to produce offensively and stay out of foul trouble is crucial. As well as, getting a monster performance from Marcus Carr again against Iowa. Further, Brandon Johnson can be an x-factor for Minnesota’s success. The play of Both Gach and Gabe Kalschuer will be key for Minnesota on both ends to give them a chance. Overall, the ability for Iowa’s defense to improve on Carr will lead them to a win.
Matchup to Watch: Both Gach vs Joe Wieskamp
Prediction: Iowa 82 Minnesota 75
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