Games of the day for 2/22/21

One of the last Mondays of the Regular Season, this will be the final week for many smaller conferences, heading into the conferences tournaments.

VMI Keydets (12-11) Furman Paladins (14-7)

What Coach Dan Earl’s been able to do for the VMI Keydets is nothing short of incredible this season. There will be zero shortage of scoring in this contest with two high-powered offenses.

The Paladins shoot a ton of threes, 48% of their shots to be exact. When they are hitting their threes, they become possibly the best team in the conference, but it’s ugly when they aren’t. The first time these two met just over a month ago, resulting in a victory for Dan Earl’s Keydets. Furman went 12-39 from deep, with Clay Mounce only producing two points. That’ll have to reserve a course in this one if the Paladins can win it. 

Guard, Alex Hunter is the best shooter on the roster. The three highest usage guys, Noah Gurley, Clay Mounce & Mike Bothwell all are struggling from deep this season, at 33% or below. Mounce is the X-Factor for Furman. 

The Keydets had a heartbreaking loss against The Citadel on Saturday after a Hayden Brown layup. When you have an elite-level talent like Greg Parham, any game is winnable. Parham’s uber-efficient & loaded with talent, look for Parham to have a big outing in this one.

Two rising stars are coming for Dan Earl in the Sophomore tandem, Sean Conway & Kamdyn Curfman, two complete snipers from long-range. If the three shooter starting feeling it, paired with the inside ability of 6’10 behemoth, Jake Stephens.  

Expect endless amounts of triples & points in this one.

Keys to the game:

Threes aplenty. Whichever team nails more deep ones will likely prevail in this one.

The Keydets will need some tightening up in the paint against paint presences like Mounce, Hien & Gurley.

Players to watch:

VMI: Greg Parham

Furman: Clay Mounce

Prediction:

VMI: 78

Furman: 81

Oregon Ducks (14-4) USC Trojans (18-4)

A battle for first place in the conference of champions. The Ducks can find themselves knotted with USC if they win this one, and this matchup is far closer than many would assume on the surface.

Oregon seldom is healthy this season. With Will Richardson missing the first two months of the regular season with a wrist injury & Duarte missing time with COVID protocols & an injury. When those two play together, the Ducks record is 5-0. The Puerto Plata, DR native, Duarte is having an unreal season, the former JUCO POTY two years ago is showing off that talent, being the potential P12 POTY. 

It isn’t only the two-star guards, you also have big production from Eugene Omoruyi & L.J. Figueroa, both high-major transfers playing pivotal roles for this Ducks squad. 

The key for Dana Altman will be, what’s the most ideal matchup for Evan Mobley? It isn’t Omoruyi, can you trust freshman, Franck Kepnang on him, maybe Chandler Lawson? The strategy Altman uses on Mobley will be massive.

The Trojans lost their most recent game at home against Arizona, a rough loss based on the Wildcats not being eligible for any tournament play this season. What went wrong? USC missed nine free throws, an issue that’s been around all season. The other one was rough performances from every player not named Evan Mobley & Tahj Eaddy, the contributors like Isaiah Mobley, Drew Peterson & Ethan Anderson will need production in this one. 

Evan Mobley can take over at any point game-changing ability for the future top-three draft pick. It’s simply impossible to win a game single-handedly in College Hoops, or any sport for that matter.

Keys to the game:

Hitting free-throws will be paramount for Andy Enfield’s Trojans in this one. We saw that become a problem against USC. We can’t have that happening in this one.

The Ducks have to defend both Mobley’s. Both brothers are very dynamic.

Players to watch:

Oregon: Franck Kepnang

USC: Isaiah Mobley

Predictions:

Oregon: 72

USC: 68

Texas Tech Red Raiders (14-7) Oklahoma State Cowboys (14-6)

I am ecstatic for this game, many may not realize how close these teams are in talent level. Even with how good both teams are they are different in a variety of ways.

OKST loves playing significantly faster, running in transition, letting their elite athletes like Cade Cunningham, Isaac Likekele & Kalib Boone run in transition.

There are some offensive struggles at times for Oklahoma State, mainly it comes with turnovers. When you give the ball to the opposing team it’s hard to get any continuity on offense.

The size of OKST could overwhelm Tech, there’s a massive size discrepancy, when you have a 6’8 point guard, it allows for that. I haven’t seen many players with the fundamentals that Cade has, look for him to shut down McClung potentially. 

One vast improvement we’ve seen this season is from fellow freshman, Rondel Walker, a lights-out shooter. There’s a very real chance, Walker is able to be a first-team All-BIG12 guy one day.

Is vengeance on Tech’s mind after the way Game One between the two went? There was a lot of controversies. The game in Lubbock was in Texas Tech’s hands, which later led to an OKST comeback, but the way the Cowboys were able to tie & send it to OT brought up problems.

Cade Cunningham drew Kyler Edwards up in the air forcing contact, and Cade got three foul shots & tied the game. OKST ended up prevailing in overtime. 

If the Cowboys are careless with Basketball, this could a tough day for them. The Red Raiders force the eight most turnovers in College Basketball, the pressure on defense could lead to some careless turnovers.

It’s not all on defense though. The scoring has to be there for Tech, they struggled heavily in Allen Fieldhouse against Kansas, only shooting 5-15 with 61 total points. McClung went 4-13 with 11 points, in-game like that when your All-American does play like an All-American, problems arise. 

If McClung isn’t on, guys like TJ Shannon, Kyler Edwards & Kevin McCullar will have to perform.

Keys to the game:

Oklahoma State has to play careful, they play fast, but play cautiously fast.

Tech has to hit threes. 

Players to watch:

TTU: TJ Shannon

OKST: Rondel Walker

Prediction:

TTU: 63

OKST: 67

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