College baskets forecasts – Will UNC complete Duke Duke's sweep?
March 8, 2019 Sports 0 Views Duke and North Carolina have their second meeting in the 2018-19 season on Saturday (18:00 ET, ESPN) and ESPN.com's team of college basketball experts refused on whether to possibly still Zion-less Blue Devils serve the division or the case of the garbage. Our experts also made their selections for the much-anticipated Michigan-Michigan State rematch (8:00 ET, ESPN) and told us what they expected to be the most compelling conference tournament of the season. Jump to Points Predictions for the Weekend's Top Games It's Duke / North Carolina, Part II. Tell us what to do if Zion Williamson is playing … and if he doesn't. Jeff Borzello college basketball insider: I'm not sure that it matters on Saturday. I guess it will be closer if Zion fits in Chapel Hill, but I think North Carolina will win in some way. If he doesn't play ̵ 1; and Mike Krzyzewski's comments make it the more likely scenario – I think the blue devils will really fight. They are a thoroughly average team without Zion and one who got steamrollered by North Carolina in Durham just two weeks ago. Taking Heels dominated Duke in the post behind Luke Maye, Cam Johnson and Garrison Brooks, and it seems likely to happen again. At the other end, Duke has not received consistent insult from someone who is not called RJ Barrett, which can be a problem against a team that loves to drive the pace and score points. Coby…
Duke and North Carolina have their second meeting in the 2018-19 season on Saturday (18:00 ET, ESPN) and ESPN.com’s team of college basketball experts refused on whether to possibly still Zion-less Blue Devils serve the division or the case of the garbage. Our experts also made their selections for the much-anticipated Michigan-Michigan State rematch (8:00 ET, ESPN) and told us what they expected to be the most compelling conference tournament of the season.
Jump to Points Predictions for the Weekend’s Top Games
It’s Duke / North Carolina, Part II. Tell us what to do if Zion Williamson is playing … and if he doesn’t.
Jeff Borzello college basketball insider: I’m not sure that it matters on Saturday. I guess it will be closer if Zion fits in Chapel Hill, but I think North Carolina will win in some way. If he doesn’t play ̵
1; and Mike Krzyzewski’s comments make it the more likely scenario – I think the blue devils will really fight. They are a thoroughly average team without Zion and one who got steamrollered by North Carolina in Durham just two weeks ago. Taking Heels dominated Duke in the post behind Luke Maye, Cam Johnson and Garrison Brooks, and it seems likely to happen again. At the other end, Duke has not received consistent insult from someone who is not called RJ Barrett, which can be a problem against a team that loves to drive the pace and score points.
Myron Medcalf, College Basketball Writer: Tough question. You can’t rely on the analysis for everything, but the Duke without Williamson is a team that falls in love with the 3-pointer (42 percent of its trials versus 35 percent with Williamson available) and builds on Barrett’s straight lines. The Bluebirds are just easier to figure out, and that’s what I think North Carolina will do (again) in a second win if Williamson doesn’t play, because as Jeff said, Duke isn’t really built to stop UNC in the color without Williamson . If he plays, Duke wins. Why? Because he is the ultimate game maker who fixes the deficiencies that were exposed (defense around the edge, after production, bad shot selection) in the first game.
John Gasaway college basketball writer: This will go swimming for the Duke if Zion plays. He changes the blue devils for the better on both crime and defense. The first part does not require any further explanation, one assumes, but on D the freshman is a disturbance and a very mobile wall with a boot change. Fueled by Williamson’s return and no less, by the desire that even the score after the match in Durham, Duke wins if Zion returns. If not, it doesn’t work well for the blue devils. Winning in Chapel Hill is a higher order than playing a home win against Wake Forest.
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Jordan Schultz insider / analyst: Duke wins this game, with or without Zion. As bad as the Blue Devils played in an almost disturbed loss to wake up, they still got a huge output from Barrett, whose 28 points helped him pass Marvin Bagley III for most of a Duke freshman. Assuming Williamson can’t go, look for Coach K to run everything through Barrett, isolate him on the wings with flat sets that allow him to train against a fantastic Heels defense. We should expect more from the uber-talented Cam Reddish, who already beat Carolina for a career-high 27 points in Durham. However, if Zion is playing, expect a large dose of post-ups and highlight-reel gigs considering that this will be the only time the in love future No. 1 ever chooses in the dean. Anyway an angry Duke team wins what should be an excellent game.
And then immediately after it’s Michigan vs. Michigan State from East Lansing. You expect a Spartan sweep?
Medcalf: I just want to be there. The Breslin Center is just a wild place, especially when the bass player in the school band goes. It will be crazy this weekend. And I think it will be the difference in a game that will include two teams that hope to be healthier before the NCAA tournament arrives. I just don’t see Cassius Winston, who has been a hero and a wooden winner despite his ongoing bout with his knee, ending up in this final against his team’s main team. It does not happen. Michigan State gets sweeping.
Borzello: Man, this is a tough game to read. First, it doesn’t sound as if the team will be healthy. Charles Matthews has missed two consecutive games for Michigan, and John Beilein doesn’t sound optimistic that Matthews would play on Saturday. For Sparty, Nick Ward is still injured and Kyle Ahrens also missed the last game. Michigan State goes through stretches where it struggles to score because of its lack of alternatives, and theoretically will be magnified against an elite-defensive unit like Wolverines. That being said, it is basically the same team that entered Ann Arbor – with Matthews playing 28 minutes – and beating Michigan seven weeks ago. In that, it was all Winston. He had 27 points and eight assisted and played his counterpart, Zavier Simpson. I think it happens again and I think the Michigan state gets sweeping.
Gazaway: Yes, the Spartans will sweep Michigan after going 0-2 against Indiana. How perfect is that? In the first game, Michigan State did what you couldn’t do to Wolverines. Tom Izzo’s guys attacked in the color and it worked beautifully. No Big Ten opponent has done as effectively against Michigan as Spartans (1.23 points per possession), and no Big Ten opponent has shot anywhere near the arc (68 percent). It was true that Michigan State took better care of the ball than UM, which we can surely rate as a real freak occurrence. Still, I like MSU’s chances in East Lansing.
Schultz: I do not. Michigan was uncharacteristically attracted by the robust Spartan defense in Ann Arbor, going 7-26 (26.9 percent) from 3 while joining just six total grants. It is true that Sparty is the elite at both ends – the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency, by KenPom – but Wolverines has more firepower and again does not have to worry about Ward, who continues to be sidelined with a broken hand. The X Factor for John Beilein & Co. is Matthews, if he plays. When he plays well and is sure to shoot it, Michigan becomes much harder to watch, because Simpson and Jordan Poole are both good at creating their own crime as well. Matthews – who scored 1-8 with 4 points in the first MSU game – must discover his stroke in this one. I bet he comes, and in turn, that Maize and Blue steal a hard road down the road.
You have to watch every minute of one and only one 2019 conference tournament. What do you pick and why? (Ivy League mini tournament is not allowed):
Borzello: No naps? I’m going to be at the Big East tournament, so I’ll leave it there. If literally every second has to be seen, I think you have to avoid dual-city leagues. If you choose ACC, you say you want to watch Wake Forest or Georgia Tech or Pittsburgh twice in 24 hours. The Big Ten actually has interesting lower seeds, but still no. The SEC has you grinding through two games involving Texas A&M or Missouri or something. Meh. I’m going to go with Big 12. There’s a ton of games going into Kansas City and fascinating biglines are redundant. Oklahoma, TCU and Texas all still have jobs to feel comfortable in the Selection Sunday title, so these games are interesting. Does Kansas look back after seeing its string end on Tuesday night? Will Texas Tech Get Warm? Can Iowa State Stop Losing? Will Kansas State Get National Respect? I’m all-in on Big 12 next week.
Medcalf: Oh, man. Borzello’s choices are meaningful. Big 12 is always fun and it’s in Kansas City, where you can just walk across the street to the Power and Light District and party with Iowa State fans after the games. But I take the SEC. I mean, Tom Crean in the opening round, where Georgia can make 98 points (victory over Texas on January 26) or 39 points (Wednesday solution to Missouri)? He can point a basketball in the stall before half-time. Mizzou’s Jordan Geist takes 30 shots because why not? Can Billy Kennedy save his job? All this before we even get to LSU, Kentucky and Tennessee? I will take it. I would love to look at everything that happens at the SEC tournament, including Frank Martin and Bruce Pearl, who may be affected by disturbances and give us the best game trends during the week.
Gazaway: Is this discussion? Absolutely Pac-12 tournament. One, no one in the conference that is not called “Washington” or, perhaps “Arizona State” (and even the other is very nasty), comes at any time near the NCAA tournament without an automatic bid. These teams will all play as hungry carnivores, not as “let’s just be healthy” locks at some other big conferences. Two, these totally off-bubble teams can, paradoxically, win a game or maybe two even if they come within 68: Utah’s crime is excellent and the two Oregon teams play pretty well without anyone noticing much. Three, UW’s Matisse Thybulle is possibly Division I most entertaining player who is also healthy. Last, 12-team tournaments feel less of a hit on the first day than your true mega-leagues. I would love to be there with my Maui Jim sunglasses celebrating the conference of masters.
Schultz: This is relatively easy for me, if it’s not conventional, but I love OVC, mainly because Belmont and Murray State each have candidates from all over America. We all know about Racer’s worldwide guard Ja Morant, who is probably the best player – and mark – in the country, save for Mr. Williamson. But don’t sleep on Bruin’s senior hybrid ahead of Dylan Windler, a sterling offensive machine that can shoot it (43.2 percent 3s), play a bounce play and post as well. Windler (21.1 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.4 SPG) is one of the most effective all-around players in the nation and also a legitimate prospect as an NBA scout I recently noted. Certainly, a Belmont-Murray State OVC final is the matchup we all deserve.
ESPN.com expert chooses for the best game of the weekend
(Lines, published as they become available, from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.)