(5) Creighton vs (1) Gonzaga
Creighton has the offensive firepower to keep up with Gonzaga throughout this game and will need to be great in transition. Furthermore, Marcus Zegarowski must set the tone with his scoring ability in his matchup against Jalen Suggs. Next, the 3-point shooting will be key for Creighton, and Mitch Ballock must lead the way. Continued, the wings of Damien Jefferson and Denzel Mahoney must defend Corey Kispert effectively if they will have a chance. Additionally, a matchup that Creighton must attack offensively is Christian Bishop against Drew Timme with the advantage of his mobility. However, the ability for Creighton to slowdown Timme offensively will be a massive challenge.
As for Gonzaga, they must set the pace of this game with their offensive capabilities. First off, it starts with Timme attacking in the post and going at the Creighton frontcourt. Additionally, Kispert will need to be elite from the perimeter with his shooting ability throughout. Continued, Jalen Suggs has an elite matchup against Marcus Zegarowski and will need to use his physicality throughout on both ends. If Gonzaga defends the 3-point line effectively they will cruise to a victory in this game. Overall, Gonzaga is too elite offensively for Creighton to slow them down and move to the Elite 8.
Matchup to Watch: Marcus Zegarowski vs Jalen Suggs
Prediction: Gonzaga 84 Creighton 73
(4) Florida State vs (1) Michigan
Michigan will need to continue to get great production from Chaundee Brown to move past Florida State without Isaiah Livers. Now, the length of Florida State will be a challenge for the Michigan backcourt in Eli Brooks and Mike Smith. Therefore, their ability to make plays for others and get open looks will be imperative. Additionally, Franz Wagner will need to be able to do it all defensively and offensively leading their perimeter. Also, Hunter Dickinson is the biggest advantage for Michigan and he must have a great game against the Florida State frontcourt. Further, the Michigan defense will be imperative for them to win, and keeping Florida State out of transition is key.
As for Florida State, their ability to contain Dickinson’s production will be vital and Balsa Koprivica will need to be at his best. Furthermore, the Florida State defense must disrupt the flow of Smith and Brooks throughout with their length and athleticism. Therefore, Scottie Barnes and MJ Walker’s size will be key on the defensive end. The ability for Florida State to make shots will be key, as they need MJ Walker, Anthony Polite and Malik Osborne to be consistent. The versatility of RaiQuan Gray will be huge in this game defensively against Dickinson and Wagner. The perimeter of Florida State will set the tone leading to a huge win over Michigan to go to the Elite 8.
Matchup to Watch: Hunter Dickinson vs Balsa Koprivica
Prediction: Florida State 75 Michigan 70
(11) UCLA vs (2) Alabama
UCLA has been scoring at a high level throughout this tournament and must have that success against Alabama. Now, the play of Johnny Juzang has been terrific with his scoring from deep and the midrange. Also, Jaime Jaquez will need to be very good with his skill set to make timely shots and finish around the rim effectively. Next, the backcourt of Jules Bernard and Tyger Campbell must be effective with their ability to get in the lane and create for others. The most important factor for UCLA will be to slow down the Alabama offensive attack. Therefore, taking away transition opportunities and the 3-point line will be their best chance to win.
Now, with Alabama, their offensive capabilities make them very difficult to defend especially on the perimeter. Furthermore, they will need Hebert Jones to continue to be the matchup problem in transition and attacking the basket. Along with, getting the key shot-making from John Petty and his length defensively. Additionally, Jahvon Quinerly’s ability to make plays in the lane and in the open floor will be vital for Alabama off the bench. Also, the scoring ability of Jaden Shackleford will be important to provide consistency for the Alabama offense. The perimeter defense for Alabama will be important in containing Juzang and Jaquez. The growth of Alabama’s defense will lead the way for their win over UCLA.
Matchup to Watch: Jaden Shackleford vs Johnny Juzang
Prediction: Alabama 80 UCLA 72
(7) Oregon vs (6) USC
The battle of the best team in the PAC 12 for the right to make it to the Elite 8 will be intriguing. First off, Oregon will be looking to forget their matchup earlier in the season with the 72-58 loss. Now, this Oregon team has massively improved with the return of Will Richardson giving them a reliable point guard who’s a scoring threat. Additionally, Chris Duarte will need to be special providing big-time scoring throughout this game. Eugene Omoruyi will have a massive task in the matchup against Evan Mobley and must attack him defensively. Continued, the size and toughness L.J. Figueroa plays with will be needed to attack the USC wings. The depth of Oregon will be tested if any foul trouble occurs.
As for USC, the ability to control the boards and the interior will be key in winning this game. Therefore, Evan Mobley will need to be very efficient inside throughout. Along with, getting a good performance from Isaiah Mobley. Next, the perimeter off Tahj Eaddy and Isaiah White will be imperative providing offense. In addition, to having the shotmaking of Drew Peterson in big spots. USC’s defense will be the biggest factor in slowing down the Oregon offense to win this game. The versatility of Oregon will lead to a big win over USC to advance to the Elite 8.
Matchup to Watch: Eugene Omoruyi vs Evan Mobley
Prediction: Oregon 77 USC 74
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