(17) Oklahoma State at (6) West Virginia
West Virginia will look to respond from a tough home loss to Baylor. Now, the first priority for West Virginia will be to contain the scoring and playmaking of Cade Cunningham. Additionally, Miles McBride must lead the offense with his driving and scoring ability. Along with, having Taz Sherman being his best attacking off the dribble and being a go-to option. Furthermore, Derek Culver will have an opportunity to go against a young Oklahoma State frontcourt and must control that battle. Next, the shooting ability of Sean McNeil will be key for West Virginia as he makes the West Virginia offense go to another level.
As for Oklahoma State, Cunningham sets the tone with his leadership and ability to make himself and others better. Also, the guard play of Rondel Walker and Bryce Williams is key to add additional scoring. The growth of Kalib Boone has been very good and must be effective against Culver. The depth of Keylan Boone and Matthew-Alexander Montcrieffe will be important throughout. West Virginia will respond with a big win against Oklahoma State.
Matchup to Watch: Derek Culver vs Kalib Boone
Prediction: West Virginia 82 Oklahoma State 77
(4) Illinois at (7) Ohio State
Illinois is looking to keep the momentum going after a huge win at Michigan without Ayo Dosunmu. Now, the offense is built around the production from Kofi Cockburn will need to produce inside. Furthermore, Andre Curbelo is a massive part of their success with his playmaking ability. Along with that, having Trent Frazier step up and make big-time shots will be imperative. Additionally, Adam Miller will need to have a strong performance in his matchup against Justice Sueing. Also, the ability for Illinois to defend Duane Washington throughout the game will be key.
For Ohio State, they will need to slow down Cockburn inside throughout the game. The ability for Washington to attack and make perimeter jumpers will need to attack the Illinois perimeter. Also, E.J. Liddell must use his versatility against Cockburn to pull him away from the basket. Along with, having the versatile Justice Sueing has a well-rounded game. Continued, the toughness of Kyle Young will be vital in this game especially on the boards. Ohio State will get a very good win against Illinois without Dosunmu.
Matchup to Watch: Kofi Cockburn vs E.J. Liddell
Prediction: Ohio State 76 Illinois 70
(19) USC at UCLA
UCLA is aiming for a signature win against USC and to get momentum for the conference tournament. Furthermore, the most important factor for UCLA will be the interior defense and rebounding against Evan and Isaiah Mobley. Continued, Tyger Campbell will need to be really good at getting others involved and make shots when necessary. Additionally, Cody Riley will have a massive responsibility in trying to contain Evan Mobley throughout. Next, the scoring ability of Jaime Jaquez and Jules Bernard will be imperative throughout. Also, the perimeter shooting of Johnny Juzang must deliver for UCLA in key moments.
For USC, when they are at their best they can be a team that advances deep in the NCAA tournament. Now, Evan Mobley consistently sets the tone with his interior scoring and rebounding. Furthermore, Isaiah Mobley must continue to produce for USC to give a dominant frontcourt. Additionally, the shot-making of Tahj Eaddy and Drew Peterson will be imperative for USC to flourish on offense. The overall consistency of the USC defense will be a big factor in them winning this game.
Matchup to Watch: Evan Mobley vs Cody Riley
Prediction: USC 78 UCLA 70
(25) Wisconsin at (5) Iowa
Iowa will be looking to continue to bolster their tournament seed against Wisconsin. The play of Joe Wieskamp has been impressive on both ends and will need to continue that. Also, Luka Garza must dominate the interior with his physicality against Micah Potter. Additionally, the shooting of Iowa’s perimeter will be huge with Jordan Bohannon and CJ Fredrick throughout. The growth of Iowa’s defense will allow them to go far in the NCAA Tournament.
As for Wisconsin, they need a win badly to get back on track in the Big Ten. Therefore, they will need to be really good defensively to have a chance. This starts with Potter defensively and attacking Garza on offense. Also, Brad Davison must make shots consistently and defend the Iowa backcourt effectively. Aleem Ford must bring it defensively on Wieskamp. Iowa’s consistent play will lead to the win over Wisconsin.
Matchup to Watch: Joe Wieskamp vs Aleem Ford
Prediction: Iowa 78 Wisconsin 72
(18) Texas Tech at (3) Baylor
Texas Tech will be attempting to cap off Big 12 play with a massive road win at Baylor. First off, the perimeter defense against Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell will be vital throughout. They also need a strong offensive performance from Mac McClung. Terrance Shannon Jr. has the ability to take this offense to another level he will be key. Additionally, Kevin McCullar will be a big factor with his ability to score from the high post against the Baylor bigs. Also, Kyler Edwards will be important with his consistency on both ends.
Moving forward with Baylor, they are looking to end regular season Big 12 play strong. Therefore, Butler will need to be strong offensively to set the tone for Baylor. Along with, Mitchell and him defending McClung will be imperative in this matchup. Next, MaCio Teague will need to attack the Texas Tech wings throughout with his size. Continued, the bench threat of Adam Flagler will be vital in this game. Also, the Baylor bigs will be key in defending McCullar throughout this game. Overall, Baylor’s offense will lead the way in winning this game.
Matchup to Watch: Davion Mitchell vs Mac McClung
Prediction: Baylor 74 Texas Tech 66
Images Courtesy of, 247 Sports, The Dominion Post, The Gazette
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