(23) UConn at (11) Creighton
Creighton needs to bounce back in this game after dropping two Big East games in a row. Now, for Creighton to be at their best offensively they must get Mitch Ballock going from three with his game-changing shot-making ability. Continued, Marcus Zegarowski must take advantage of the matchup without James Bouknight playing and attack R.J. Cole. Additionally, the frontcourt for Creighton plays a big role in their success and they need Damien Jefferson to continue his play. Having Christian Bishop who’s growth and mobility on both ends will be key in this game. Overall, the depth of Creighton needs to be more consistent with Antwann Jones and Ryan Kallbrenner too.
As for UConn, they will need to continue to be able to get wins without Bouknight. Therefore, R.J. Cole must continue to provide offense and be able to defend Marcus Zegarowski effectively. Furthermore, Tyrese Martin has the capability to be the go-to guy and will need to handle the size of Denzel Mahoney throughout. Next, the youth of the frontcourt in Adam Sanogo and Isaiah Whaley will have a major test against the Creighton frontcourt. Both of these teams are looking to rebound, but Creighton’s offense will get it done against UConn.
Matchup to Watch: Tyrese Martin vs Denzel Mahoney
Prediction: Creighton 77 UConn 70
(2) Baylor at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State has a massive opportunity against Baylor to hand them their first loss the season. Now, for Oklahoma State to win this game they’ll need to defend Jared Butler at a high level with Isaac Likele’s defense. Additionally, the size of Cade Cunningham will be an intriguing matchup for the Baylor defense with MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell on him. Furthermore, Cunningham will need to be at his very best as a scorer and distributor for Oklahoma State to win this game. Also, they will need Avery Anderson and Bryce Williams to continue to step up offensively. The frontcourt for Oklahoma State will need to be active against the athletic frontcourt of Baylor.
As for Baylor, their ability to be elite on both ends of the floor makes them the most complete team in the country. Butler will need to continue to play like an All American offensively in this game, as well as Mitchell to be elite on the defensive end against Cunningham. The perimeter scoring of Teague and Adam Flagler is an underrated aspect to the success of Baylor that will be needed. Baylor is great in ball screens and a major part of that is Jonathan Tchamwa-Tchatchoua with his mobility. In conclusion, Baylor’s ability to get consistent stops will be the reason they come away with a close win against Oklahoma State.
Matchup to Watch: Cade Cunningham vs Davion Mitchell
Prediction: Baylor 73 Oklahoma State 69
(20) Clemson at Florida State
Florida State is arguably the best team in the ACC and are looking to keep the momentum going against Clemson. The play of RaiQuan Gray has been exceptional with his versatility and production. The matchup of him against Aamir Simms will be key. Further, the emergence of RaiQuan Evans has given the Florida State perimeter another element and has been impressive. Continued, the consistency of M.J. Walker is big for Florida State, and having a player like Scottie Barnes off the bench is sensational. The growth of Balsa Koprivica has been noticed and gives Florida State a frontcourt that can pose problems. Overall, the depth of Florida State will be vital against the depth of Clemson.
As for Clemson, they have struggled against the past two teams and have a great opportunity against Florida State. Clemson will need to defend Florida State well in the half-court and transition to have a chance in this game. Clyde Trapp and Nick Honor will need to be at their best against the size of the Florida State perimeter. Also, Aamir Simms will need to play at a high level on both ends against Gray. Now, an x-factor for Clemson is John Newman with his size and ability to score. The Florida State athleticism and activity will be too much for Clemson to handle.
Matchup to Watch: RaiQuan Gray vs Aamir Simms
Prediction: Florida State 82 Clemson 72
(15) Ohio State at (10) Wisconsin
This will be a matchup between two of the best teams in the Big Ten. For Ohio State, they have continued to play well without a true point guard with CJ Walker out. Furthermore, Duane Washington has stepped up being able to make plays for others and still keep his scoring mentality. Next, Ohio State’s defense against the backcourt of D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison will be a part aspect of this game. Also, the frontcourt battle of E.J. Liddell against Micah Potter will be crucial. Additionally, the versatility of Justice Sueing will be key against Aleem Ford on the wing. The depth for Ohio State must continue to produce with Justin Ahrens, Seth Towns and Zed Key.
For Wisconsin, the backcourt of Trice and Davison must attack the Ohio State perimeter. Also, the defense of Potter and Nate Reuvers against Liddell will be vital to winning this game. The emergence of Tyler Wahl is important to give Wisconsin another player on the wing. The consistency of Ford will be important against Justice Sueing throughout. This game will be a battle and tight, but the backcourt of Wisconsin will make more plays happen.
Matchup to Watch: D’Mitrik Trice vs Duane Washington
Prediction: Wisconsin 70 Ohio State 66
(19) Missouri at (6) Tennessee
Missouri has a great opportunity to add another big-time win on their resume against Tennessee. The defense of Missouri will be key against Tennessee to force the guards to make tough shots throughout. This starts with the backcourt of Dru Smith with the tempo he plays with on both ends. Jeremiah Tilmon will be a major part of handling the interior and his efficiency will be huge for Missouri. Also, the scoring of Mark Smith will be huge setting the tone for the Missouri offense. Xavier Pinson and his versatility will be the most important part for Missouri to win this game with his slashing ability and length defensively. The offensive of playmakers for Missouri will give them a tremendous opportunity in this game.
Tennessee must be able to get offense in easier ways than they have had. First off, this starts with the guards being able to get good shots in the half-court and execute in transition. Therefore, Keon Johnson and Josiah Jordan-James will be key for Tennessee to win this game. Along with, getting their normal scoring production from Victor Bailey. Continued, the tone must be set with Yves Pons and John Fulkerson being the go-to guys in the frontcourt dominating inside. The defense of Tennessee has been really good throughout and will need to impose it against Missouri to win this game. Missouri will go on the road getting a big win against Tennessee getting a great game from Mark Smith.
Matchup to Watch: Jeremiah Tilmon vs Yves Pons
Prediction: Missouri 71 Tennessee 68
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