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  • CPP Podcast: IU Hires Archie Miller College Pride Press

    On this special edition of the College Pride Press Podcast, Brad Kreppel is joined by Ryan Dahlkamp and special guest Duncan Hensley to discuss all aspects of the Archie Miller hire.

     

  • Sweet 16 Recap: Friday March 25 College Pride Press

    Two great games and two lopsided games to bring us to 8 teams. The games today were not as exciting as last night’s games but still provided plenty of storylines and entertainment.

    #7 South Carolina Destroys #3 Baylor

    Final Score: 70-50

    Headline: What in tarnation?

    MVP: Sindarius Thornwell (24 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals)

    What in tarnation? South Carolina did not beat Baylor, they destroyed the Bears in all aspects of the game. Sindarius Thornwell did Sindarius Thornwell things with his all around game. He had twice as many points as the second leading scorer for the Gamecocks. South Carolina allowed Jonathan Motley to score getting 18 points but no other Baylor player achieved double digits in the scoring column. This was a blowout at halftime and South Carolina did not let up in the second half. Frank Martin’s team is playing exceptionally and will look to continue their hot streak with a chance to go to the Final Four on Sunday.

    #1 UNC Beats #4 Butler

    Final Score: 92-80

    Headline: UNC Does UNC Things

    MVP: Joel Berry (26 points, 2 assists)

    The score does not do this game justice. UNC was ahead by more than 15 for most of the game before Butler made a late run when the game was no longer in doubt. Looking at the stats shows this to be an average North Carolina game. They knocked down a decent amount of deep shots at an average rate of 35%, they out rebounded their opponent, and Joel Berry filled it up. Happy to see the  Tar Heel point guard back to being healthy after dealing with an ankle injury last weekend. The Tar Heels played their game and that formula punched their ticket to the Elite 8. They will play Kentucky for a chance to go to the Final Four.

    #2 Kentucky Beats #3 UCLA

    Final Score: 86-75

    Headline: De’Aaron Fox > Lonzo Ball

    MVP: De’Aaron Fox (39 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists)

    De’Aaron Fox was sick of your “Lonzo Ball is amazing” takes. He put on a show in Memphis with 39 points. Kentucky held UCLA to 75 points which is an accomplishment given what the Bruins have done this season on the offensive end of the floor. Once Thomas Welsh got into foul trouble it seemed to go downhill as the other UCLA bigs struggled to keep protect the rim and keep Derek Willis off the glass. Fox and Monk carried the bulk of the scoring combing for 60 points while Dominque Hawkins came off the bench to pour in 11 points. UCLA did not have the giddy up in the second half to get on a run and Kentucky stayed in control of the game. The Bruins looked defeated well before the game was decided. Kentucky will go on to face fellow blue blood North Carolina in another rematch of a non conference game that Kentucky won earlier this season.

    #4 Florida Outlasts #8 Wisconsin

    Final Score: 84-83 OT

    Headline: Game of the Tournament!

    MVP: Chris Chiozza (8 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds)

    This was the best game of the NCAA Tournament thus far. Two great teams going back and forth and needing the extra five minutes to decide the winner. Both teams fought through adversity with foul trouble and Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig played injured in the last 6 minutes of the game. Zak Showalter stepped up and made a ridiculous three pointer in the closing seconds of the game to tie it up and force overtime. Wisconsin had a chance to put the game away with a breakaway layup but Canyon Berry came out of nowhere for a season saving block which led to an easy layup for Florida to tie the game. Nigel Hayes than found his way at the line and knocked down both his free throws with only 4 seconds left. Chris Chiozza did not want to see Zak Showalter’s shot on a loop for the next 2 weeks so he topped him by going the length of the court in 4 seconds and drained a running three pointer at the buzzer to get the win and advance to the Elite 8. As great as Chiozza’s shot was, the Gators wouldn’t have been in any position to win if it wasn’t for KeVaughn Allen’s 35 points. He has broken out of his shooting slump and did so in a big way to propel the Gators to the Elite 8. He carried their offense at times and kept them within striking distance.

  • Sweet 16 Recap: Thursday March 24 College Pride Press

    What a crazy day in college basketball. The four games provided us with some close finishes, one blowout, and one huge upset. If you weren’t able to watch all of the games just keep on scrolling because we are going to recap them for you right here.

    #11 Xavier over #2 Arizona 

    Final Score: 73-71 

    Headline: Who is Ed Sumner?

    MVP: Trevon Bluiett 25 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists 

    Let’s start it off with a bang. The team that seemed to be done after losing star point guard Ed Sumner to a season ending injury is going to the Elite 8. Chris Mack has done a tremendous job and getting past the red hot Wildcats was no easy task. Bluiett might be the MVP on the offensive side but Kaiser Gates and Sean O’Mara were the studs on the defensive end holding star freshman Lauri Markkanen to only 9 points. Bluiett was huge for Xavier handling the ball and providing the team with a third of its points. He needs to continue to play like this if Xavier has aspirations of advancing farther. The Musketeers will face Gonzaga for the chance to go to the Final Four. It would be a phenomenal story if Xavier can pull off another upset.

    #1 Kansas over #4 Purdue

    Final Score: 98-66

    Headline: The Kansas guards are good at basketball

    MVP: Frank Mason 26 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists

    I am an IU fan but I felt bad for Purdue. IU went through the same thing last year with a UNC team that was clearly on their way to the championship game. Kansas has that feeling to them this year. Those guards they have a pretty good at basketball with both Mason and Graham scoring 26 points a piece. Bill Self is a great coach and drew up a defense to slow down Caleb Swanigan. Landen Lucas, Dwight Coleby, and Carlton Bragg all helped the cause guarding Swanigan in the post. Kansas was too much for the Boilermakers to handle on defense. The dynamic duo of point guards scored and distributed while Josh Jackson crashed the glass and ran in transition. Kansas will play Oregon on Saturday and these teams matchup perfectly together.

    #3 Oregon Beats #7 Michigan

    Final Score: 69-68 (nice)

    Headline: Michigan’s Magical Run Comes to an End.

    MVP: Jordan Bell 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks

    Michigan’s magical run from the Big Ten Tourney ends in Kansas City with a loss in the Sweet 16. Derrick Walton had an open jumper in the last possession but could not get it to fall. Oregon’s three point defense is the reason they won this game as they held Michigan to 35% from deep. Jordan Bell was massive in this game for the Ducks. He had 16 points and 13 rebounds, including two big offensive rebounds down the stretch. Bell has stepped up big time to replace Chris Boucher and did so honorably tonight. His offense was great but his defense was even better as he held Mo Wagner to only 7 points. I stated that Bell’s defense on Wagner would be the difference and it was crucial. I cannot talk about this game without mentioning Tyler Dorsey who poured in 20 points. While all eyes were on All-American Dillon Brooks, Dorsey had open looks and easy driving lanes. Dorsey has played his way to being Brooks’s sidekick in this tournament.

     

    #1 Gonzaga over #4 West Virginia

    Final Score: 61-58

    Headline: Late Game Offense Costs West Virginia

    MVP: Jordan Matthews 13 points, 3 rebounds

    West Virginia had Gonzaga right where they wanted them until they needed to score in their half court offense. West Virginia held Gonzaga to 61 points and turned them over 16 times. That was exactly how Bob Huggins drew it up…except for the end. One disastrous possession costed them a shot at the Elite 8 and possibly the Final Four. Gonzaga endured the pain that is Press Virginia and used a balance scoring attack to overcome it. The Zags had 3 players score 13 points and that was the team high. Jordan Matthews is the MVP because he made 3 of Gonzaga’s 4 made deep shots. His shooting was crucial to stretch the floor and provide some scoring in such a  low scoring game. The Bulldogs survived and advanced and will play Cinderella Xavier in the Elite 8. Hopefully that game will be a little bit more up and down pace.

    Check back tomorrow for game recaps for the rest of the Sweet 16 games.

  • Sweet 16 Preview: #3 Oregon vs. #7 Michigan College Pride Press

    #3 Oregon vs. #7 Michigan 

    Storyline: Is Michigan the team of destiny?

    In college basketball, momentum is so important and sometimes vital to success. Michigan was boarded a plane on the way to the Big Ten Tournament when their plane slid off the runway. Those players then had to get back on a plane (I couldn’t fly the day after going through that) and play a noon game in their practice uniforms. No one would have blamed them for not having their best game and losing in that first game. Instead, the Wolverines went on a huge run to win the Big Ten Tournament and have used that momentum to get to the Sweet 16. They have knocked off high scoring Oklahoma State and pulled off a huge upset against the Louisville Cardinals. I do not want to jinx anything but Michigan is two wins away from having an ESPN 30 for 30 being made about them.

    Oregon does not have the luxury of big momentum. They went to their conference tournament and lost their best shot blocker and deadly shooter Chris Boucher for the season. This was a crushing loss as the Ducks relied on Boucher for huge rim protection to anchor their defense. I was very high on Oregon before the PAC-12 tournament, but the Boucher injury really hurt them both in X’s and O’s as well as mentally to the team. Oregon recovered to knock off Iona before needing a late rally and stellar defense to beat a red hot Rhode Island team.

    The interesting thing about these Sweet 16 matchups is that very few games have teams that are similar. This is yet another matchup where one team has skilled big men and the other relies and shooting guards and small forwards. Michigan has gone on this great run with the emergence Mo Wagner and DJ Wilson. Those players were known before the post season, but both of them have really stepped up and played exceptional basketball. Wagner and Wilson are special because their are versatile. They can drive to the rim, post up, and shoot it. Very tough to guard one of these guys but Michigan plays with both of them on the court as much as possible. Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell have been asked to step up in the wake of Boucher’s injury and they must continue to play great defense and try to slow the Michigan bigs down. Combine those bigs with Derrick Walton and that is a tough offense to stop. Walton has played extremely well in the past 6 games and has the experience to lead the Wolverines.

    As much as Oregon has gone through, you cannot sleep on the Ducks. Dana Altman is a tremendous coach and Dillon Brooks is one of the best players in the Sweet 16. Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis have been red hot in the past few games. Payton Pritchard does all the little things and spreads the ball around to find open shooters. This will be a high scoring game as both teams can fill it up in their own style. Both teams have a go to guy that can get a clutch bucket in Dillon Brooks and Derrick Walton. This is the toughest game to predict but I am going with the team with the momentum in the Wolverines.

    Prediction: Michigan 87, Oregon 83

  • Sweet 16 Preview: #4 Florida vs. #8 Wisconsin College Pride Press

    #4 Florida vs. #8 Wisconsin

    Storyline: Who is Bo Ryan? Who is Billy Donovan?

    Billy Donovan and Bo Ryan will not be pacing the sidelines on Friday night, but their programs have continued to have big successes. Mike White and Greg Gard have done tremendous jobs using the momentum and culture in place to sustain success.

    Wisconsin has some players left from their two Final Four runs, and everyone back from their Sweet 16 run last season. The Badgers are led by familiar faces Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, and Nigel Hayes. Those three all have varying individual skill sets but they all fit together in the system. The team is pretty much “what you see is what you get”. The Badgers don’t have the greatest athletes but they are smart and play well together. Greg Gard’s team plays fundamental basketball and they control the pace to control each game as they did with wins over Virginia Tech and Villanova in the first weekend. With Florida’s big John Egbundu out for the year, Ethan Happ has a huge mismatch with whoever is guarding him. His shooting range is practically zero but his crafty moves gets him open looks against any defense. He should have no issues scoring against the Gators.

    The Florida Gators were such a tough team for me to peg this season. The analytics have loved the Gators all year but they only beat one Top 25 team in the regular season. That was their home game against Kentucky (everyone gets up for that game). Senior guard Kasey Hill has pulled the Gators together and has them peaking at the right time. They beat East Tennessee State in the first round before crushing Virginia by 26 points. The key for Florida’s success in this game is going to be stopping Ethan Happ and not allowing Bronson Koenig to get open looks from deep. Happ is a load down low and Koenig will not miss open looks from deep. Those two players need to be the focus for the defensive oriented Gators.

    This is a tough call to pick this game. I really do not know what to expect from this game, especially after what the Gators just did to Virginia. Both teams are coming off impressive wins. I am giving the edge to Wisconsin with Happ being the key player. Wisconsin can control the pace and force Florida to play their game.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 75, Florida 73 

  • NCAA Tournament Preview: #6 Maryland Vs #11 Xavier Shailee Bruck

    #6 Maryland vs #11 Xavier

    West Region

    6:50 p.m. ET, TNT

    Maryland

    24-8, (12-6 Big Ten)

    Player to Watch: Melo Trimble (17.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.7 APG)

    Melo Trimble has been the highlight of Maryland’s team for the last 3 years. Between his acrobatic layups and game winning 3-pointers, Trimble has been the team’s leader. Trimble is one of the best at the pick and roll, and is one of the most dangerous guards in the NCAA… if the rest of the Terps can pick up and play to his level. Remember to #StayMelo Terp fans.

    X Factor: Size

    Jaylen Brantley and Anthony Cowan, both are listed as 6’0 and under, really struggle with matchups against taller guards. Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura, Xavier’s leading healthy scorers, are both standing tall at 6’6 and 6’5. If Cowan struggles to score and defend against these taller guards, then Maryland will have to compensate. In Maryland’s losses against Purdue, Penn State, and Wisconsin, Cowan scored less than 7 points. Cowan alleviates the pressure on Trimble, and is essential to allow Trimble to rest easy on the bench.

     

    Xavier

    21-13, (9-9 Big East)

    Player to Watch: Trevon Bluiett (18.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.1 APG)

    Trevon Bluiett is an amazing guard and leading scorer for the Musketeers. Bluiett is playing almost 25 minutes per game. Bluiett is coming off an ankle injury, and while he had to sit out the Musketeers had no chance against their opponent.

    X Factor: Injuries

    Xavier, much like Maryland, has lost 7 of their last 10 games. Xavier is struggling without Myles Davis, who has left, and Xavier’s second leading scorer, Edmond Sumner, who has a season ending injury. Xavier lacks big men, and is a guard-oriented team. Without Sumner, only 2 Musketeers score in the double digits.

     

    Match-Up to Watch: Melo Trimble vs. Trevon Bluiett

    Melo Trimble and Trevon Bluiett. Both are their team’s leading scorers, both have had nasty game winning shots, and are both calm and level headed during games. This is a matchup many will want to see. Trimble will be assisted defensively by Cowan, but it will be exciting to see some of the tops guards in the nation battle it out with everything on the line.

     

    Key Stat: Defense

    Xavier is 153rd in the country in scoring defense, allowing their opponents to score 71.4 points per game, along with 117th in country in 3-point defense. If Maryland, a 36.3% 3-point shooting team can get hot behind the arc, then the game will be over. Maryland has shooters like Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson at the wing who can cause damage.

     

    Prediction: Maryland Terrapins 69, Xavier Musketeers 63

    Although Maryland struggles against taller guards, Xavier lacks big men. Maryland’s leading rebounder, Justin Jackson, is only 6’7 but has a 7’3 wingspan, and 6’11 Damonte Dodd will have an easier time rebounding against Xavier’s starting center, 6’9 RaShid Gaston and 6’10 backup center Sean O’Mara. If Maryland can out rebound and are successful in the paint, Maryland will breeze over the Musketeers.

  • NCAA Tournament Preview: #7 Michigan vs #10 Oklahoma State Cowboys Zach Pretzer

    #7 Michigan Wolverines vs #10 Oklahoma State

    Midwest Region

    March Preview: Michigan Wolverines

    March Preview: Oklahoma State Cowboys

    #7 Michigan Wolverines (23-11 Overall, 10-8 in Big Ten) Big Ten Tourney Champs

    Player to Watch: Derrick Walton

    Derrick Walton is a senior for Michigan with the heart of a champion. Michigan will need to rely on their seniors for a win vs Oklahoma State and for a push in the NCAA Tournament. Derrick Walton is averaging 15 points, 4.7 boards, and 4.6 assists per game and is always there for Michigan when they need him to slash to the basket for a bucket.

    X Factor- Three Point Shooting

    The Wolverines need their shooters to hit at a high percentage because this team cannot get it done all inside, even though it seems like they have a lot of fire power with DJ Wilson and Mo Wagner. Duncan Robinson is Michigan’s best shooter, he has to capitalize on open shots. Also, Derrick Walton has found a stroke from the 3 point line which has to continue.

    #10 Oklahoma State (20-12 Overall, 9-9 in Big 12)

    Player to Watch- Jawun Evans

    Jawun Evans is averaging 19 points, 3.3 boards, and 6.2 assists per game and has been the heart and soul for the Cowboys of Oklahoma State. When they need a bucket they automatically go to him and have trust in him to get the job done.

    X Factor- Phil Forte

    Phil Forte has to be a leader to get this team where they want to be. If the Cowboys need a clutch shot or a three to go down, Phil has to come through because without him being a factor and not helping Jawun out, this team could be in trouble when it comes to getting a win. This team has so much potential, but Phil and Jawun working together is a must.

    Key Match-Up- Zak Irvin vs Phil Forte

    Senior vs Senior, there is not much to say about this match up. It comes down to who shows up to play and lead their team.

    Prediction: Michigan 68 Oklahoma State 59

    Michigan is going to out shoot Oklahoma State in my eyes and that will be the difference, along with a great game from Derrick Walton. However, Juwan Evans will be very difficult to maintain.

  • NCAA Tournament Preview: #4 Purdue vs. #13 Vermont College Pride Press

    #4 Purdue Boilermakers vs # 13 Vermont Catamounts

    Midwest Region 1st Round

    Thursday 7:27 p.m. ET, TruTV

     

    Purdue Boilermakers

    25-7, (14-4 Big Ten)

    Player to Watch: Caleb Swanigan (18.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg)

    Purdue enters NCAA Tournament play as the regular season champions of the Big Ten Conference, and the Boilermakers were clearly the class of the conference throughout the season. Led by National Player of the Year candidate Caleb Swanigan, Purdue boasts one of the most talented frontcourts in all of college basketball.

    X Factor:

    On the court, the Boilermaker guards must continue to play at a high level. This includes taking care of the ball, making sound decisions, and knocking down open shots. From a mental perspective, Purdue needs to shake off the demons of the past couple NCAA Tournament performances that resulted in heartbreaking overtime defeats.

     

    Vermont Catamounts

    29-5, (16-0 America East)

    Player to Watch: Anthony Lamb (12.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg)

    Vermont walks into its matchup with Purdue riding a 21-game winning streak, and is one of, if not the hottest team in college basketball, having won every last one of its conference games. The Catamounts are flying high and playing with plenty of confidence, led by their impressive junior class.

    X Factor:

    To complete an upset of the Boilermakers, Vermont must receive quality production from its forwards. The Catamounts shoot three pointers at a 37 percent clip, and will likely need to make several shots from deep in order to offset Purdue’s size advantage in the post.

     

    Match-Up to Watch

    How will the frontcourt of Vermont attempt to deal with the obvious mismatch against Purdue’s big men? The Catamounts boast exactly zero players taller than 6 feet 8 inches. Look for the Boilermaker frontcourt to enjoy a productive night.

    Key Stat

    Purdue is ranked 21st in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio, and the Boilermakers assist on the vast majority of their field goals. Coach Matt Painter’s team must avoid turning the ball over and enabling Vermont to score in transition.

     

     

    Prediction: Purdue 81, Vermont 64

    You can expect Vermont to come out swinging, as the America East Conference champions almost certainly will not fear Purdue. The Catamounts are playing with all the confidence in the world and have not lost since December. Purdue will look to utilize its obvious size advantage and score from inside the paint.

    In the end, Purdue’s big men will overwhelm the Catamount frontcourt and Caleb Swanigan will carry Purdue into a second round matchup versus Iowa State or Nevada.

  • NCAA Tournament Preview: #8 Miami Hurricanes vs #9 Michigan State Spartans Jonny Gee

    #8 Miami Hurricanes vs #9 Michigan State

    Midwest Region

    8:50 pm, TNT

     

    Miami Hurricanes

    21-11 (10-8)

    Player to Watch: Davon Reed (15.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.5 apg)

    Davon Reed is one of only two seniors on the young Miami squad.  “Mr. Dependable,” as he is known by his teammates and coaches, has been a team captain since his sophomore year.  The 6’6” guard has had quite the senior season finishing in the top 15 of the ACC in minutes played (35.3), 3-point shooting percentage (39.9), and free-throw percentage (83.3).

    X Factor: Get to the rim

    Miami is not a great shooting team.  The Hurricanes finished ACC play in eleventh place in both overall field goal percentage (43.6) and three-point shooting percentage (35.9).  In order to be competitive Miami cannot get caught up in a three-point shooting contest.  They have to play to their strengths and attack the rim.

     

    Michigan State Spartans

    19-14 (10-8)

    Player to Watch: Miles Bridges (16.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.0 apg)

    Miles Bridges was one of the top names among freshman coming into this college basketball season, and he has certainly lived up to the hype.  Bridges finished seventh in the Big Ten in scoring.  He is known for his athletic finishes at the rim, but really does it all for the Spartans as he can handle the ball and is a serious threat from deep.

    X Factor: Interior Defense

    Miami’s poor shooting, as highlighted earlier, could be a huge issue for them in the postseason.  With that said, Michigan State should look to expose that part of their game.  The Hurricanes only take an average of 6.4 threes per game.  Big men Nick Ward and Kenny Goins should look to be aggressive defensively down low and create issues for Miami’s big men.  If MSU can force the Hurricanes to kick the ball out and take more jump shots the Spartans will hold a huge advantage.

     

    Match-Up to Watch

    This 8-9 match-up will feature a couple of very talented freshmen.  Although different positions, Bruce Brown of Miami and Nick Ward of Michigan State will be guys to keep an eye on.  Bruce Brown was a highly touted recruit out of high school and has been a huge contributor for coach Jim Larrañaga this season.  The 6’6” guard is third on the team in scoring, and second in rebounds and assists.  The freshman has proved his maturity in his ability to shine in big games; Brown averaged 20 points in the two match-ups with Duke and 25.5 points in the two games against North Carolina this season.  On the other side for Michigan State is their freshman big man, Nick Ward.  Ward has been forced to step into a larger role with the absence of MSU’s senior, Gavin Schilling.  He has been impressive all season and has really found his stride down the stretch scoring double digits in eleven out of the final 12 games of the year.  A lot of people thought Nick was snubbed from the B1G All-Freshman Team.  Ward, along with Bridges, will be exciting to see square off with the other talented freshman, Bruce Brown.

    Key Stat

    The young stars are fun to watch, but their inexperience leads to quite a few turnovers for both teams.  Miami averages 13 turnovers per game while the Spartans average 14.  Taking care of the ball has been an issue all season as both teams finished in the bottom three of their respected conferences.  Both teams should look to be aggressive on defense.  Not just limiting their own turnovers, but taking advantage of their opponent’s turnovers will be crucial in this contest.

     

     

    Prediction: Michigan State 73, Miami 68

    The 8-9 match-ups always make for difficult decisions when filling out your brackets.  This one is no different and really could go either way.  I give the advantage to Michigan State because I think they create more threats offensively.  Although Miami does have a great defense I think their offense can stall at times.  I do see the game being very competitive and I think Bruce Brown and Miles Bridges will not disappoint, being the leading scorers of the game.  The Spartans will then have the pleasure of playing one of the best teams in the country, the Kansas Jayhawks, to advance to the Sweet 16.  That is if the history of a 16 seed never beating a 1 seed continues.

     

    Jonny Gee

    Indiana University | 2020

  • NCAA Tournament Preview: #8 Northwestern Wildcats vs. #9 Vanderbilt Commodores Ryan Dahlkamp

    #8 Northwestern vs. #9 Vanderbilt

    West Region

    March Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

    #8 Northwestern:  23-11, (10-8)

    Player to watch: Bryant McIntosh

    Remember when Indiana didn’t recruit in-state, state champion Bryant McIntosh? Northwestern fans do, and they sure are thankful to Tom Crean. Averaging 14.4 ppg and 5.2 apg, McIntosh hasn’t necessarily put up great numbers on offense, but, without a doubt, is the Wildcats most important player. If Northwestern wants to secure its first tourney win in program history, B-Mac will have to take care of the basketball and get into the lane to create for his teammates. When he is on, the Cats’ offense is on.

     

    X-Factor: Outside Shooting

    One thing that has troubled Northwestern throughout the season, is knocking down outside shots. In losses, the Wildcats have often gone ice cold from outside. This ties back in to why I believe Bryant McIntosh has to be on his game. He must attack the basket early on, so the perimeter will be open for shooters like Scotty Lindsey and Vic Law. Also, Chris Collins needs to gameplan an inside-outside by getting Derek Pardon involved early on so Vandy will honor the paint which will help open up the perimeter.

     

    #9 Vanderbilt 19-15, (10-8)

    Player to watch: Luke Kornet

    Luke Kornet is by far the most experienced player on this young Vanderbilt roster. He averages a solid 13.2 ppg and 6.2 rpg. Kornet has struggled with his offensive consistency sitting at about 40% field goals on the year, but what stands out is his ability to block shots (2 bpg), which will be key in eliminating the inside game of Northwestern.

     

    X-Factor: Outside shooting

    Just like Northwestern, outside shooting was a major issue for Vandy in losses. Somewhat of a “live by the three die by the three” type of team. This all starts with Riley LaChance, who has shot close to 50% from deep on the season. He will need to be the catalyst for an inconsistent Vandy offense. Similar to McIntosh on NU, LaChance must get going early for Vandy to click on the offensive side of the ball.

     

    Matchup to watch: Riley LaChance – Bryant McIntosh

    The battle to watch will be at the point guard position in this contest. McIntosh is a great distributor while LaChance can stroke it from outside. Whomever settles in earliest will make the biggest impact in deciding the outcome of this game.

     

    Key Stat:

    The Commodores led the SEC with a 37.7% clip from beyond the arc. It will be essential for Northwestern to knock down shots in order to keep up with this sharpshooting Vanderbilt squad.

     

    Prediction: Northwestern 64, Vanderbilt 60

    I see this matchup as extremely equal in terms of style of play and tempo. That being said, whichever team that shoots better from the outside will win this game. I’m giving the edge to the Cats here because I know the boys from Evanston will be hype to play in their first tournament game.

     

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