East Region Sweet 16 X-Factors

Sweet 16 Friday

We are now onto the Sweet 16 and the East Region is loaded with some star power. Take a look below at some of the top x-factors for each team!

UCLA: Jules Bernard

The Bruins will have Johnny Juzang and it’d be a shock if Jaime Jaquez didn’t play on Friday despite the bum ankle. Tyger Campbell will give UCLA what he usually does, a hard-nosed point guard who can score and distribute whilst leading his team.

UCLA also will have Cody Riley and Myles Johnson, two big men that will do their job and can survive foul trouble.
But Bernard is the big wildcard. UCLA has had some trouble scoring recently, and UNC has been putting up points at ease. If UCLA wants to win they’re going to need a big scoring game from Bernard who averages almost 13 points per game.

They’re also going to need a top-tier defensive game from the 22-year-old. Campbell will be put on Davis in all likelihood, but it’s not super likely that UCLAexpends the energy of Johnny Juzang on the defensive end, especially foreseeing foul trouble. Bernard is going to have to guard the quick guards of North Carolina, more likely Caleb Love specifically, and ultimately shut him down if UCLA wants to reach a second consecutive Elite Eight.

North Carolina: Leaky Black

Though not the team’s first second, third, or even fourth scoring option, Black’s performance will be important. He’s the team’s best wing defender and he’ll be given the tough task of defending Juzang and Jaquez, the two leading scorers for UCLA.

Black doesn’t need to score to be effective, but he can’t turn the ball over and negatively impact the game as he has been. If he can score double-digits though, it will put UCLA at a major loss because those are points that UCLA is not planning on having to guard.

If Leaky can get on the board, play some shutdown defense, and give some hustle on the offensive end, UCLA is going to have a tough time stopping the Carolina attack.

Purdue: Sasha Stefanovic

Purdue enters their Sweet 16 game as large favorites as a three seed playing against the third ever 15 seed to reach this round of the tournament. The previous two, both in the last decade, lost and failed to advance to the Elite Eight.

Saint Peter’s is a defensive team, one of the best remaining in the tournament. Stefanovic’s three-point ability will stretch the Peacock defense, freeing up more space in the paint for Williams and Edey to work.

As the main three-point threat, if Stefanovic is catching fire, it will give other shooters like Eric Hunter more space to knock down some shots. Hitting just one or two threes early on can release Jaden Ivey to go one-on-one with limited help which allows him to drive downhill and score off the bounce, or dish to one of the big men who should have no problem scoring over a small Peacock lineup.

Saint Peter’s: Hassan Drame

This Peacock team is pretty unknown to the general college basketball public, even the avid followers. They aren’t a very big team, starting a trio of 6’7”-6’8” forwards.

Drame, whose brother plays on the team as well as his direct swap substitute, isn’t a scorer. And he doesn’t need to score, because they have other guys who can do it, and they can’t score all that many points anyway. Drame will be given the tough task of guarding some of the more athletic forwards that Purdue has, as well as helping with 7’4” Zach Edey and the ever-elusive Trevion Williams down low.

A great game from Drame gives the Peacocks an outside shot of another upset.

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