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College Basketball

Elite 8 East & West Region Preview

(6) USC vs (1) Gonzaga

Gonzaga

For Gonzaga, they will look to go to thier second Final 4 under Mark Few. Furthermore, the dependability on their starting rotation is massive as they account for 79.4% of their scoring. Therefore, the ability of Gonzaga’s defense to play without fouling is a key factor to monitor. Also, the shot-making for Gonzaga makes them difficult to defend with Corey Kispert leading the way. Andrew Nembhard and Joel Ayayi are dependable shooters. Continued, Drew Timme is the focal point for Gonzaga with his inside scoring ability and being able to stretch defenders out to the perimeter. The perimeter defense will be important for Gonzaga to contain USC from three containing Tahj Edady and Isaiah White. Gonzaga’s offense in the half-court must be efficient against a stingy USC defense.

USC

As for USC, their ability to change up defenses and the size inside with the Mobley brothers will be crucial. Furthermore, the offensive shot-making of USC will give them an opportunity to stay with Gonzaga. Therefore, Tahj Eaddy and Isaiah White will need to stay hot from the perimeter needing to extend the Gonzaga defense. Additionally, the size of Isaiah Mobley will be key on the boards and against the smaller Gonzaga lineups. Next, the interior defense on Drew Timme will be imperative for USC with Evan Mobley’s shot-blocking ability. The capability of Evan Mobley attacking Timme will be intriguing to see if they can get him in foul trouble. Also, the depth of Ethan Thompson and Drew Peterson will be key factors in USC’s opportunity.

Best Matchup:

Drew Timme vs Evan Mobley

This is the biggest matchup within this game and the more dominant player could lead their team to a win. First off, Timme’s skill and footwork will be tested against the size and shot-blocking of Evan Mobley throughout. Drew Timme’s ability to defend Evan Mobley inside will be critical. As for Evan Mobley, he will need to show the experience throughout the season against Timme and not get cheap fouls against Timme. The efficiency of Evan Mobley will be key on the offensive end and he must be a factor throughout.
Prediction: Gonzaga 78 USC 66

(11) UCLA vs (1) Michigan

UCLA

UCLA has been on a terrific run and their offensive capabilities by their perimeter play have been terrific. Next, it’s been the three J’s who have delivered in Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez and Jules Bernard. Furthermore, Juzang has been the go-to guy with his three-point shooting and mid-range jumpers have been terrific. Jaquez has elite footwork to finish around the basket effectively and has good size. Bernard needs to be at his best with his confidence as a scorer. Additionally, Tyger Campbell will be the key to his ability to control the pace and his assist to turnover ratio. The ability for UCLA to contain Hunter Dickinson inside will be vital to give them a chance in this matchup. Also, the overall half-court defense of UCLA is going to be important in slowing down Mike Smith and Eli Brooks. UCLA must be consistent in this game to come away with a win over Michigan.

Michigan

Michigan has made it happen without Isaiah Livers with players such as Chaundee Brown and Brandon Johns Jr. stepping up. Furthermore, the togetherness of this Michigan team cannot be understated as their defense is very solid as a unit. Having the frontcourt size with Hunter Dickinson, Franz Wagner, and Brandon Johns is a major factor against UCLA. Next, the scoring ability of Franz Wagner will be imperative in making shots and getting to the rim. Along with, having Eli Brooks play with great IQ and have Brown deliver off the bench. Continued, the pace and play of Mike Smith sets the tone offensively and will need to continue to be special in this game. Michigan’s efficiency offensively will be the lead towards them getting to the Final 4.

Best Matchup

Tyger Campbell vs Mike Smith

The small guard matchup of Tyger Campbell vs Mike Smith will be a fascinating one. The pace of both guards will dictate the flow and tempo of their teams. Now, the physicality of Campbell’s defense will be interesting against the elite speed of Smith on the open floor. Along with, the ability of Smith to score equally as well as getting others involved. The consistency of Campbell will be vital as he is more up and down in comparison to Smith. These guards will set the tone for both of their teams and are imperative towards their success. A matchup that will be intriguing and compelling throughout will determine the outcome of this game.
Prediction: Michigan 77 UCLA 72

Images Courtesy of, New York Post, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News

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