(22) Loyola-Chicago at Drake
The battle over the top of the Missouri Valley will take place on back to back days between Loyola Chicago versus Drake. Now, Loyola Chicago’s defense has been playing at a high level and will need to continue especially inside against Shanquan Hemphill. Furthermore, Cameron Krutwig will need to be his versatile self with his ability to score and distribute effectively. Next, the guard play of Branden Norris will be key as he gives Loyola-Chicago an efficient scorer. Additionally, Lucas Williamson with his size will be important in defending Roman Penn throughout the game. The interior presence of Aher Uguak will be key with his ability to rebound effectively and be a key defender in the lane.
As for Drake, there looking to rebound after the loss to Valparaiso. Therefore, they will need a big outing from Roman Penn to lead them in scoring against the tough Loyola Chicago defense. Also, Hemphill will need to be a force inside using his athleticism against the Loyola-Chicago frontcourt. Continued, other perimeter players will need to step up in this game being DJ Wilkins and Joseph Yesufu off the bench to bring that additional scoring. A major component will be Drake slowing down the playmaking of Krutwig throughout. Loyola-Chicago is going to prove this weekend as being the best team in the Missouri Valley with their dominant defense.
Matchup to Watch: Cameron Krutwig vs Shaquan Hemphill
Prediction: Loyola Chicago 2-0 on the weekend
(10) Missouri at Arkansas
Missouri will be looking to bounce back after a significant loss to Ole Miss. Furthermore, Xavier Pinson must perform at a higher level offensively for Missouri to win this game against Arkansas. Additionally, Dru Smith must continue with his ability to make plays in transition and score in the lane with his size. Continued, Jeremiah Tilmon must dominate in the paint with his physicality against the Arkansas frontcourt. Also, the shot-making ability of Javon Pickett and Mark Smith must be on display to give the Missouri offense consistency.
For Arkansas, their ability to guard Jeremiah Tilmon will be vital needing Justin Smith and Connor Vanover to step up defensively. Next, the perimeter of Arkansas must lead the way Moses Moody and Jalen Tate on the offensive end. The health of Desi Sills will be key because he adds an additional scoring threat for Arkansas. Further, Justin Smith must use his mobility and Connor Vanover must stretch the defense with his shooting against Jeremiah Tilmon. This game is setting up for Missouri to bounce back after a disappointing performance against Ole Miss.
Matchup to Watch: Xavier Pinson vs Moses Moody
Prediction: Missouri 77 Arkansas 72
(12) Oklahoma at (14) West Virginia
West Virginia will be looking to keep the momentum going coming off the win against Texas Tech. Now, Miles McBride has been a big-time with his ability to get to the rim and in the mid-range. Additionally, Derek Culver will need to attack the frontcourt of Oklahoma and keep his efficiency. Next, the health of Taz Sherman will be imperative with his ability to attack one on one and be very key to their success. The shot-making of Sean McNeil is game-changing with his 3-point shooting getting the offense of West Virginia to be dangerous. Continued, the perimeter defense of West Virginia will be important against Austin Reaves and Elijah Harkless.
For Oklahoma, their success starts with the shot-making and playmaking of Austin Reeves who will need to be great in this game. Furthermore, the X factor for Oklahoma is Umoja Gibson with his 3-point shooting. Now, the emergence of Elijah Harkless has been impressive, and will need to continue with his ability to attack the basket. The impact of Brady Manek will be key with his shot-making and the defense he plays against Derek Culver. This will be a high-level game and West Virginia will keep the momentum going with a big win over Oklahoma.
Matchup to Watch: Brady Manek vs Derek Culver
Prediction: West Virginia 79 Oklahoma 78
(5) Villanova at (19) Creighton
Villanova will have its biggest test in Big East play going on the road against Creighton. Collin Gillespie will be crucial in this matchup against Marcus Zegarowski as this battle will be key to the outcome. Additionally, Justin Moore has the ability to have a big game with a bigger Creighton perimeter could struggle to guard Moore throughout. Continued, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl must have a good game against Christian Bishop in an intriguing matchup. Also, the wings of Jeremiah Samuels and Caleb Daniels will be vital going against Damien Jefferson and Denzel Mahoney. Therefore, the defense by Villanova especially on the perimeter will be key in this game.
For Creighton this is a massive opportunity to add a signature win to their resume. The biggest factor for Creighton is the play of Zegarowski as he must be at his best against Gillespie. Additionally, the shot-making of Mitch Ballock will be vital to give Creighton big-time shots. The versatility of the frontcourt must attack Villanova effectively with Christian Bishop and Damien Jefferson. Also, the scoring of Mahoney will be vital in attacking the wings on Villanova. The consistency of Gillespie will lead the way for Villanova in this win over Creighton.
Matchup to Watch: Collin Gillespie vs Marcus Zegarowski
Prediction: Villanova 84 Creighton 78
Prediction: Villanova 84 Creighton 78
(3) Michigan at (21) Wisconsin
Michigan is coming off of their long pause and will be looking to re-establish themselves atop the Big Ten. First off, their backcourt defense on D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison will be imperative with the defense of Eli Brooks and Mike Smith. Furthermore, the play of Hunter Dickinson must continue with his ability to take over offensively in the paint for Michigan against the Wisconsin bigs. Additionally, Isaiah Livers will need to be a factor with his shot-making ability and rebounding throughout. Franz Wagner has versatility as a scorer and passer. Along with his size and skill set will be a matchup problem for Wisconsin.
Now, with Wisconsin, they need a signature win as they have struggled as of late in the Big Ten. Therefore, the play of Nate Reuvers and Micah Potter must be high level against the matchup in Hunter Dickinson. Additionally, the efficiency of the guards with Davison and Trice must be there on the offensive end. Additionally, Wisconsin’s ability to defend the wings in Franz Wagner and Isaiah Lives will be vital for their chances to win with Aleem Ford and Tyler Wahl’s defense. Also, the 3-point shooting of Wisconsin must be on against a tough Michigan defense. Wisconsin will come away with a massive win over a Michigan team a bit rusty coming over their pause.
Matchup to Watch: D’Mitrik Trice vs Eli Brooks
Prediction: Wisconsin 72 Michigan 67
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