Games of the day for 2/12/21

Clemson Tigers (12-5) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-7)

Quite honestly, this is a MUST win for both teams. The Yellow Jackets need a quality victory, along with Clemson not being able to afford home losses. 

Brad Brownell’s Tigers sneakily have become firmly on the bubble despite winning big games early in the season. Clemson’s offense continues to be a complete mess. Last weekend’s victory over Syracuse was as good as the Clemson offense looked this season. Will that be an outlier or positive momentum?

The Tigers are shooting 31% from deep on the season, while 43% of their shots come from three. That’s a losing formula if you’re not hitting the shots. The only two consistent deep-range shooters continue to be Hunter Tyson & Nick Honor, with guys like Al-Amir Daws & Clyde Trapp pitching in occasionally.

For the Tigers to defend Littlejohn Colosseum in this one, Aamir Simms has to take over from the mid-range & inside.

Georgia Tech’s an offensive led team trying to put up a good performance on the ACC’s best defensive team.

The leader of this offense is senior guard Jose Alvarado, a candidate for conference POTY. It’s not likely that the award ends up in Alvarado’s hands with GT not being a top-tier team in the ACC. The Brooklyn native is posting career bests in every category, including efficiency stats. The lone question about Alvarado’s game throughout his career was can he shoot it well enough from deep? Well, Alvarado’s answered that question with a resounding YES, shooting 43% from deep this year. 

The guard matchups in this game weigh heavily in Josh Pastner’s favor in every way possible, not only with Alvarado but also with Mike Devoe. When you have two elite guards, you can win any games on the road. 

Moses Wright will be important in this game on defense facing Aamir Simms. That’s the main matchup to watch in this one.

Keys to the game:

For Clemson, you need to shoot the ball at a 33% clip or above if you want to keep up with GT.

The Yellow Jackets don’t turn it over often, but Clemson forces many turnovers, one of those things is likely to change in this game. Georgia Tech can’t turn it over more than usual with how much Clemson wants to slow it down.

Players to watch:

GT: Moses Wright

Clemson: Clyde Trapp

Prediction:

GT: 69

Clemson: 64

UAB Blazers (16-2) Louisiana Tech (15-6)

Andy Kennedy’s Blazers currently have the best record in the conference. Year one of the Kennedy era’s off to a tremendous beginning, trying to stay in sole possession of the conference’s first place.

UAB’s a defensive-minded team ranking 53rd in defensive efficiency, with good scoring inside, but struggle shooting from deep. Quan Jackson & Tavin Lovan both score fantastically inside from guards, but Lovan’s also lethal in the mid-range game. That two mixed-in with Jalen Benjamin & Tyreek Scott-Grayson’s shooting from outside, with 7-footer Trey Jemison in the paint. There are so many pieces on this team, and I haven’t even mentioned Michael Ertel, the team’s leading scorer. The thing about Ertel is that his shooting’s taken a significant decline this season compared to his three years at Louisiana Monroe. If Ertel’s shooting can improve in this game, that would be a welcomed addition.

The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs have been a sneaky team in the conference the past few seasons. 2020-21 especially, this is a very talented team that’s already knocked off Western Kentucky this season. The forwards for the Bulldogs dictate what happens on this team. Isaiah Crawford leads the team in scoring this season, a 6’6 four-man that can shoot the ball from deep, along with defending at a consistently high level.

Freshman Kenneth Lofton’s built like an NFL O-lineman, and he’s a fantastic basketball player. The matchup of Trey Jemison for UAB facing LT’s Kenneth Lofton will be fun to monitor.

Keys to the game:

Neither team shoots particularly good from deep; whichever team can hit more threes will likely come out on top here.

Trey Jemison needs to impose his will in the paint.

Players to watch:

UAB: Michael Ertel

LT: Kenneth Lofton

Prediction:

UAB: 62

LT: 59

St Bonaventure Bonnies (10-2) VCU Rams (14-4)

There’s not many things I love more than elite Atlantic 10 matchups.

The Rams host the Bonnies in this one, looking to add another solid win to this resume. VCU struggles with turnovers that cannot continue in this one. Although VCU’s defense is elite, along with forcing turnovers if you’re taking turnovers but giving the ball back often, that nearly cancels it out.

VCU’s shooting’s improved significantly this season, with Bones Hyland looking like the conference POTY, along with shooting 40% from deep, with Vince Williams Jr becoming a tremendous offensive player.

The matchup with Hason Ward, the A-10’s best post defender facing a tremendous player like Osun Osunniyi for the Bonnies, will be fantastic to watch. Ward’s blocking nearly three-shots per game this season. 

Ace Baldwin could harass any lead ball-handler with his tenacious defense, with Kyle Lofton being a top-tier A-10 talent that’ll be a big key.

Jaren Holmes & Dominick Welch continue to be fantastic shooter from deep this year, picking up the production with Kyle Lofton struggling from deep this year, as he’s 6-37 from three this season. Despite Lofton’s struggles from three, he’s still playing like a first-team all-conference guy with everything he possesses in his repertoire.

For the Bonnies to win this game, Jalen Adaway & Osun Osunniyi will have to pound the paint in this one.

Keys to the game:

For VCU, limit the turnovers, don’t give the Bonnies chances to run in transition.

Kyle Lofton’s struggles from deep this season have been a surprise, but last game, Lofton went 3-4 from three; look for him to repeat that performance for a bonnies win.

Players to watch:

St Bonaventure: Osun Osunniyi

VCU: Ace Baldwin Jr

Prediction:

St Bonaventure: 63

VCU: 68

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