Games of the day for 1/8/21

It’s Friday, Folks. Time to read what games to watch while many of you unwind from the long work week.

South Alabama Jaguars (7-4) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (7-2)

What’s not to love about a little Sun Belt Hoops? Two of the more exciting teams to watch in the Belt.

South Alabama has been tremendous on the offensive side of the floor in 2020-21, but defensively they ranked 296th in defensive efficiency they also allow an effective field goal percentage of 56.6%. It’s tough to win games consistently when your defense struggles so much. The Jaguars didn’t allow a ton of points to Georgia Southern this past weekend, but GASO is one of the country’s worst offensive teams. The Chants play super fast, leading to a ton of turnovers for Cliff Ellis’s team, something South Alabama could turn into points on the other end. 61% of shots USA’s opponents take are from long-range, the Jags allow far too many triples to fall. It isn’t all negative as their offense is fun to watch; Michael Flowers, the transfer from Western Michigan, could easily be the conference POTY. Flowers is averaging 21 PPG on an insane 50% from the field and 42% from three; Flowers has been an absolute heist in the transfer for portal for Coach Riley. Kayo Goncalves is an elite shooter from the five spot, but his defense in the paint is a more significant issue on the team. It’s tough to say if USA’s defense can improve in-time for this one, but that just means the offense will need to show up like it usually does.

Cliff Ellis has found a star with Devante Jones; the junior has steadily improved each season in his career. Jones is posting 23.3/7.2/3.8 for CCU in 2020-21, whilst shooting 39% from three, a career-best for Jones. Essam Mostafa is the Sun Belt freshman of the year this season, and in this game, Mostafa is a complete mismatch due to South Alabama’s defensive issues. Cliff Ellis needs to play his pace. The Chants rank 66th in adjusted tempo, compared to South Alabama’s 286th. Playing the rapid pace does lead to far too many turnovers for Coastal Carolina.

Keys to the game:

The Jaguars need to find a way to defend Essam Mostafa; with how much the post defense has been an issue and the way Mostafa plays, you cannot let him go off. 

Coastal needs to avoid turnovers. That can lead them to a loss with the way USA scores.

Players to watch:

USA: 84

CCU: 79

Purdue Boilermakers (7-5) Michigan State Spartans (8-3)

Matt Painter’s Boilermakers are in a tough must-win spot to avoid being 7-6. It’s a tough matchup for Tom Izzo’s team due to the horrible post-defense and facing Trevion Williams & Zach Edey. If you’re MSU, with the revolving door of players at the five, you may as well just foul the two bigs every time and send them to the line. Purdue’s shooting ability has been excellent this season, with Sasha Stefanovich, Isaiah Thompson, and Brandon Newman all being big-time shooters. Purdue allows opposing teams to shoot 52% from-the-field from two-point ranges this season, and with the way Aaron Henry has been heating up, Purdue can’t let Henry to get hot. Matt Painter needs to focus on feeding the bigs. 

Tom Izzo’s team destroyed Rutgers earlier this week in a must-win game. Rutgers could not hit any shots against MSU, mostly Rutgers missing shots, but some were the upped defensive intensity. Aaron Henry led the attack, posting 20 PPG, with seven rebounds, four blocks, and two steals. A.J. Hoggard appears to be the new point guard for MSU, with Rocket Watts no longer playing in that role. Hoggard had six assists against Rutgers; Hoggard plays excellent defense and sets the offense up well. I think this is as much of a Gabe Brown game as you’ll find; the 6’7 lefty is an elite 3-And-D player. MSU is playing significantly faster than they ever have in Tom Izzo’s tenure, and with Hoggard running the point, it plays with more fluidity. In the Breslin Center, MSU needs to pick this one up.

Keys to the game:

Find the big-man that can contain Williams & Edey the most. I see that being Mady Sissoko or play Malik Hall as a small-ball five. 

Purdue’s bigs need to hit their foul shots. They’ll likely get to the charity stripe often. Therefore, Williams especially needs to be more than his 47% clip from-the-line this season.

Players to watch:

Purdue: Sasha Stefanovich

Michigan State: Gabe Brown

Prediction:

Purdue: 68

Michigan State: 77

Dayton Flyers (5-3) Davidson Wildcats (6-4)

Anthony Grant’s hopes of making the tournament as an at-large team in 2020-21 are as good as done. Dayton has lost to La Salle at home this season and lost at Fordham; the Flyers have been one of the more disappointing teams in the country this season, now heading to one of the most challenging places to play in the A-10 in Davidson. 

So what’s went wrong for Dayton? They lost Obi Toppin, Ryan Mikesell, Trey Landers, and Rodney Chatman being out with injury issues. Also, we can’t forget, since losing Chase Johnson, that is since Dayton has struggled. It seems like Dayton is still trying to find the chemistry. Jalen Crutcher & Ibi Watson have been as advertised this season; they just haven’t gotten anyone near Obi’s production. Jordy Tshimanga has been up-and-down, far from consistent, and Mustapha Amzil has been outstanding in his three games this season since losing Johnson. Amzil & Tshimanga have to step-it-up on the defensive, although that may not be an issue against this Davidson team. Dayton turns the ball over an absurd amount, giving up possession, live-ball turnovers, that need to change right now.

The Wildcats play extremely slow, as does Dayton making this not the most fun game to watch possibly, but Davidson finds their shots despite playing deliberately. Kellan Grady is struggling shooting this season, only at 33% from three, and Hyunjung Lee is a mismatch due to his 6’7 frame and shooting 50% from three. If Davidson wins, they need a big game from Lee. Davidson’s offense is one of the more aesthetically pleasing offenses in the country, despite playing slow, but the ball movement in the next level. The defense is an issue for Davidson, which is causing most of their losses; with Dayton’s turnover problems, they’ll need to force Dayton to turn it over.

Keys to the game:

Dayton needs to stop turning the ball over; if you keep giving the other team more possessions, you’ll continue to lose games.

Dayton needs Kellan Grady’s shooting to improve the way he’s capable of doing.

Players to watch:

Dayton: Mustapha Amzil

Davidson: Kellan Grady

Prediction:

Dayton: 61

Davidson: 57

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