(1) Baylor vs (5) Villanova
Villanova was able to get hot from the perimeter against North Texas and will need this to carry over against Baylor. Furthermore, Justin Moore needs to lead the way with his scoring ability and size to match the Baylor backcourt. Jermaine Samuels will be crucial on both ends with the shot-making and driving ability. Additionally, Caleb Daniels will be key as a third perimeter option needing to step up offensively against Baylor. Now, if Villanova has a chance to win they will need Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to takeover the Baylor frontcourt. Getting key production from Cole Swider and Bryan Antoine will be vital. The 3-point line and perimeter defense for Villanova will be the biggest factor against Baylor.
As for Baylor, the play of Jared Butler sets the tone with his offensive ability. Davion Mitchell will need to be huge on both ends and especially in locking down Moore. Also, MaCio Teague must attack the Villanova perimeter and be a major factor on both ends. Next, the defense for Baylor on Robinson-Earl will be vital in winning this game. The depth of Adam Flagler and Matthew Mayer could play a critical role in Baylor’s adding offense. Overall, the lack of ability for Villanova to slowdown Butler and Mitchell will allow Baylor to advance to the Elite 8.
Matchup to Watch: Justin Moore vs Davion Mitchell
Prediction: Baylor 80 Villanova 70
(3) Arkansas vs (15) Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts will look to keep the magic going against Arkansas. Therefore, the offensive firepower must continue to win this game especially to keep up with Arkansas. Max Abmas sets the tone for Oral Roberts with his ability to make long perimeter jumpers and his dependability. The inside-out combination is huge with Kevin Obanor being a matchup problem. The matchup for Obanor against Justin Smith will be massive in deciding this game. Also, the defense of Oral Roberts will be important in slowing down the guard play of Arkansas. Oral Roberts will need others to step up with Carlos Jurgens and Kareem Thompson being capable.
As for Arkansas, their defense against Obanor and Abmas will determine if they will win this game. Also, the shot-making ability of Moses Moody will be vital in setting the tone for Arkansas. The inside scoring ability of Justin Smith is going to be needed to get an easy offense for Arkansas. Further, the secondary guards for Arkansas with JD Notae, Jalen Tate and Davonte Davis will be vital. Also, these guards will be the primary defense on Abmas who they must contain throughout. The consistency of Arkansas and depth on the perimeter will lead Arkansas towards the Elite 8.
Matchup to Watch: Justin Smith vs Kevin Obanor
Prediction: Arkansas 83 Oral Roberts 75
(8)Loyola-Chicago vs (12) Oregon State
Oregon State will be looking to keep its hot streak going against Loyola-Chicago. First off, Oregon State will need to be able to navigate the elite defense of Loyola-Chicago. Therefore, Ethan Thompson will need to establish the offense with his playmaking and shot-making ability. Also, the scoring of Jarod Lucas will be key for Oregon State needing to deliver throughout. The play of Roman Silva will be vital in his matchup against Cameron Krutwig slowing down his production. Additionally, the bench production of Maurice Calloo will be needed for Oregon State.
Loyola-Chicago’s defense will set the tone for them to advance to the Elite 8. Krutwig’s ability to pass and score from the high post will be critical throughout. The shot-making ability of Brenden Norris and Lucas Williamson will be important for their offense. Also, the perimeter defense of Lucas Williamson against the Oregon State guards will be imperative. The bench production of Marquise Kennedy is going to be important for Loyola-Chicago to have more scoring. Overall, the defense of Loyola Chicago will set the tone for them to advance to the Elite 8.
Matchup to Watch: Lucas Williamson vs Jarod Lucas
Prediction: Loyola Chicago 67 Oregon State 55
(11) Syracuse vs (2) Houston
Syracuse has gotten hot in the NCAA Tournament and will need their offense to keep up against Houston’s physicality. First off, the shooting of Buddy Boeheim must continue for Syracuse to advance. Rebounding will be the most important factor for Syracuse needing to limit the multiple opportunities for Houston. Also, Quincy Guerrier will be vital in his matchup against Justin Gorham for Syracuse. Further, the guard play of Joe Girard and Alan Griffin needs to be great on both ends to matchup Houston’s backcourt. The consistency of Marek Dolezaj will be key to Syracuse’s key rebounds and shot inside.
As for Houston, their ability to operate against the 2-3 zone will be crucial. The consistency of Marcus Sasser will be imperative for Houston to win this game. Along with, having the same production of Quinten Grimes setting the tone offensively. Additionally, Justin Gorham is vital in getting in the middle of the zone and rebounding throughout. The toughness of Dejon Jarreau will set the tone for Houston and locking up Buddy Boeheim defensively. The grit, defense, and rebounding will allow Houston to get a tight win over Syracuse.
Matchup to Watch: Justin Gorham vs Quincy Guerrier
Prediction: Houston 68 Syracuse 65
Images Courtesy of, CBS Sports, Chicago Tribune, The Athletic
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