Marquee Matchups: Week 11 in Northwest Ohio

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Posted On: 02/5/18 5:00 AM

The list of Northwest Ohio  games goes just two deep. So, we’ll provide an in-depth preview for each.

Feb. 6: St. John’s at Whitmer

There’s a select group of Division I teams in the northwest region that have a chance to sneak up on St. John’s in the playoffs. The junior-laden Whitmer Panthers are in that group of 2-4 teams who can matchup athletically and have offensive weapons.

The length and toughness of Whitmer’s quartet of juniors Eddie Colbert, Aeron Evans, Leon Hughes, and sophomore Riley Keller might be able to slow down St. John’s. Offensively, Whitmer will need 5’9” high-academic point guard Trey Syroka to handle pressure and calmly make plays.

St. John’s still has a mismatch with VCU commit and Mr. Basketball candidate Vincent Williams — the #5 ranked Ohio senior often plays center defensively and while acting as the primary ball-handler. Titan opponents are helpless when 6’4” guard Houston King is in a shooting rhythm.

This game could also be remembered more so as the current top dog versus the next wave in Toledo. Whitmer’s nearly all junior rotation is poised to take over as the dominant team in the area next season as SJJ graduates their top three players.

Feb. 12: Versailles at Marion Local

As I’m writing this, both Versailles and Marion Local are undefeated against Midwest Athletic Conference opponents and have a combined four losses overall. We’re getting the conference’s top offensive team in Versailles at 63.9 points per game against the top defense, as Marion Local only allows 42.4.

The clash of specialties can be looked at through an individual player battle: Justin Ahrens versus Nathan Bruns. The Ohio State commit averages just over 25 points for Versailles and leads the MAC in assists (and points and rebounds). His playmaking ability leads to a free-flowing style of offense for the Tigers. Meanwhile, Bruns matches up with Ahrens’s size and athleticism on the wing. If anyone is going to force Ahrens into a struggle, it’s Bruns.

Division II colleges looking for a versatile defender and fundamental offensive player in the 2019 class should go check out Bruns in this game as a measuring stick sort of opportunity.