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NIKE EYBL Atlanta: Best Matchups

05/10/2018, 2:00pm EDT
By D1 Circuit Staff


Session three in Atlanta is almost among us, and this is typically the circuit stop that separates the men from the boys.

Eight games will be in play at once in Atlanta, meaning there will be some tough games to choose between. Several rivalry matchups are on tap, as well as many matchups between squads ranked in the EYBL Power Rankings.

Read below for a detailed breakdown of the weekend's top matchups.

FRIDAY

Georgia Stars vs. No. 2 Team CP3 (NC)
Friday: 6:30 PM EST

The third session kicks off with a southern battle between CP3 and the Georgia Stars. CP3's Wendell Moore has been on fire to begin the season, and he'll be facing off against fellow 5-star recruit Trendon Watford. Balsa Koprivica joins Watford in the front court, and the 7-foot junior figures to be one of the biggest impact players making their 2018 EYBL debut. The Stars are much better than their 4-4 record indicates, and we expect them to give CP3 all they can handle on Friday night.

No. 13 PSA Cardinals (NY) vs. No. 1 Team Takeover (DC)
Friday: 6:30 PM EST

Top-ranked Team Takeover will be tested off the bat, taking on Cole Anthony and the PSA Cardinals. PSA goes as Anthony goes, and so far that's been pretty darn good; the 6-foot-3 junior has earned back-to-back First Team All-Session honors. Takeover is the best defensive unit in the country, and will be honed in on locking Anthony down. TTO's big man combination of Hunter Dickinson and Armando Bacot may be too much for PSA to handle.

Rivalry Matchup


No. 10 MOKAN Elite (KS) vs. No. 6 Brad Beal Elite (MO)
Friday: 6:30 PM EST

Long-time rivals MOKAN and BBE will meet on Friday evening, and this matchup has all the ingredients of an instant classic. The battle inside between Francis Okoro (BBE) and N'faly Dante (MOKAN) could be the deciding factor, as both rotations match up almost equally across the board. Junior point guard Grant Sherfield will be making his EYBL debut for MOKAN, and his presence should make MOKAN noticeably better in the backcourt. The winner gets bragging rights, and a huge push in the divisional standings.

The Battle for Boston


BABC (MA) vs. Expressions Elite (MA)
Friday: 8:00 PM EST

The much-anticipated Battle for Boston goes down Friday night, as BABC squares off against Expressions Elite. The rivalry matchup provides a couple of great individual matchups; Brycen Goodine (BABC) vs. Noah Fernandes (MA) and Mitch Doherty (BABC) vs. Tre Mitchell (MA). Last year's game came to the buzzer, and we expect more of the same this Friday. These programs are bitter rivals and they both need a win to bolster their Peach Jam chances, so this should be one of the more competitive games of the weekend

No. 7 New York Lightning vs. Playaz Club (NJ)
Friday: 8:00 PM EST

The Lightning and Playaz should be a hotly-contested contest, mainly due to the familiarity these programs have with one-another. The Lightning came sprinting out of the gates and currently sit with a 6-2 record, while the Playaz (3-5) need a strong session to be a Peach Jam contender. Posh Alexander and DaShawn Davis are lethal for the Lightning, and they'll be countered by juniors Al-Amir Dawes and Khalif Battle. This will be a highly-entertaining east coast battle, but don't be surprised if the Playaz pleasantly surprise during session three.

No. 15 City Rocks (NY) vs. Seattle Rotary (WA)
Friday: 8:00 PM EST

Friday wraps up with a tremendous battle of teams on opposite coasts. The Rocks narrowly edged out Rotary for the final spot in the EYBL power rankings, and it's fitting that they'll get to settle it on the court. Both squads sport a 5-3 overall record, but Rotary's success has been more of a surprise than the Rocks. The big man matchup between high-major prospects Isaiah Stewart (Rocks) and Jaden McDaniels (Rotary) will be worth the price of admission. The winner of this game is in excellent shape for Peach Jam bid.

Saturday

Battle for New York City


No. 7 New York Lightning (NY) vs. No. 13 PSA Cardinals (NY)
Saturday: 9:30 AM EST

The Battle for New York makes a great case for game of the weekend. One of the many reasons why? The matchup between Posh Alexander vs. Cole Anthony, which should be outstanding. Both players are on the short list for regular season MVP, and both need to be productive in order for their teams to be victorious. Anthony is the most experienced player on the circuit, and he steps up in big games. This game should go wire-to-wire, and would be a 'pick-em' if betting odds were in play.

Georgia Stars (GA) vs. No. 12 Drive Nation (TX)
Saturday: 9:30 AM EST

This is a top matchup, simply due to the immense amount of talent that will be on the floor. In total, ten prospects ranked in the top 100 will be running in this matchup, including Stars' newcomer Balsa Koprivica. Both of these teams love to get up-and-down, meaning this matchup has a high probability of being played in the 80s or 90s. Talent aside, depth may be the deciding factor here; the Stars feature 14 players, while Drive Nation only plays seven. 

Rivalry Matchup


No. 9 Bluff City Legends vs. No. 10 MOKAN Elite (KS)
Saturday: 11:00 AM EST

MOKAN has faced an extremely tough schedule through eights games, and it doesn't get any easier during session three. They'll face off against Bluff City in a Saturday morning rivalry matchup, and we expect fireworks. James Wiseman (BCL) and N'Faly Dante (MOKAN) are two of the best big men in the world, and watching them go toe-to-toe will be an instant treat for basketball fans. This would be a resume-building win for either program, and would go a long ways in building their team's confidence heading into the summer.

No. 3 Houston Hoops (TX) vs. Mac Irvin Fire (IL)
Saturday: 11:00 AM EST

Tyrese Maxey committed to Kentucky on Wednesday, and he'll be on a mission to impress the Big Blue Nation fan base. Chris Harris, De'Vion Harmon and Maxey will have their hands full with the Fire, as back-to-back Third Team All-Session performer Kahlil Whitney will be joined by sophomore star Adam Miller. Finally recovered from a leg injury, Miller should give the Fire a boost they were missing in the first two sessions. The Hoops skyrocketed to 3rd in the EYBL Power Rankings after adding Maxey, and will be looking to continue their upward trajectory.

No. 4 Oakland Soldiers (CA) vs. Nike Phamily (CA)
Saturday: 12:30 PM EST

The Nike Phamily (CA) is coming off a blowout win over third-ranked Nike Team Florida, proving they are a competitive bunch despite their 1-7 record. They added juniors Terry Armstrong and Jimmy Bell after session one, and they looked like a completely different team in Indianapolis. The Soldiers will be their toughest test to date, and this matchup won't be without familiarity; Oakland's KJ Martin and Scotty Pippen play with Phamily leading scorer Terren Frank at Sierra Canyon). Friends become enemies on Saturday afternoon, and while the Soldiers are expected to win, the Phamily is far too talented to overlook.

Battle for New York City


No. 13 PSA Cardinals (NY) vs. The Renaissance (NY)
Saturday: 5:00 PM EST

The PSA Cardinals' ridiculously-difficult schedule continues with the Renaissance. The Cards will have a second opportunity to take out a New York foe, in a matchup featuring 5-star point guards Cole Anthony (PSA) and Jalen Lecque (RENS). 6-foot-11 Kofi Cockburn will be a major focus for the PSA defense, as they will need to control the boards against a rather large Renaissance squad. These two programs are very familiar with each other, and this should be a highly-competitive, razor-close affair.

Battle for the DMV


No. 1 Team Takeover (DC) vs. Team Melo (MD)
Saturday: 5:00 PM EST

Team Takeover has rolled through the schedule so far, already  racking up six wins against opponents with a .500 record or better. TTO runs 11 deep, and literally bludgeons you with their defense. Team Melo features Jay Heath and Jalen Rucker, as well talented newcomers in Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, who made their way over to the EYBL after starring for DC Premier in UAA. On paper, they have more than enough to remain competitive with Takeover. That being said, TTO has separated themselves as the top team in grassroots basketball, so a loss here would be one of the biggest upsets of the season.

Game of the Session


No. 9 Bluff City Legends (TN) vs. No. 6 Brad Beal Elite (MO)
Saturday: 6:30 PM EST

This matchup is all kinds of awesome. These two programs battle for talent year-round, and will get to settle their differences in a matchup perfect for the Saturday night spotlight. BBE point guard Zion Harmon ran with Bluff City during session one, and will have a chance to put the hurt on his former team. The outcome of this game will likely be decided by interior play. Bluff City big man James Wiseman, who ran briefly with BBE a year ago, will be heavily-contested inside by top 100 recruits Francis Okoro and EJ Liddell. BBE's leading scorer Moses Moody has been a terrific threat from behind the arc through two sessions, and he'll likely be locked down by bigger defenders DJ Jeffries and Chandler Lawson. There's a ton to like about this matchup, and the hype will be real.

Battle for the Northwest


Rose City Rebels (OR) vs. Seattle Rotary Style (WA)
Saturday: 6:30 PM EST

Unlike previous years, 2018's version of the 'Battle for the Northwest' has Peach Jam implications written all over it. Simply, put, this is a must-win for Seattle Rotary. They cannot afford to lose to the bottom-half of the division, and a loss to Rose City would be disastrous. The Rebels will be looking to play spoiler, riding the hot hand of junior scorer Aaron Deloney. Rotary should dominate the paint, and if Marcus Tsohonis, Noah Williams and RaeQuan Battle show up in their best form, the backcourt should excel as well.

Sunday

No. 4 Oakland Soldiers (CA) vs. No. 8 Indy Heat (IN)
Sunday: 8:00 AM EST

Two longtime EYBL members meet on Sunday morning, and the winner should be feeling great about their session three campaign. Both squads are coming off 4-0 finishes in Indianapolis, both utilizing deep rosters with some star power at the top. The matchup between Keion Brooks Jr and KJ Martin should be terrific, as both forwards will also be looking to bolster their individual resumes. These are two of the most well-coached teams on the circuit, which should make for a high-level Sunday battle.

No. 7 New York Lightning (NY) vs. UPLAY Canada (CAN)
Sunday: 9:30 AM EST

UPLAY rattled off a 3-1 record in Indianapolis, putting them in terrific spot to obtain a Peach Jam bid. Against the Lightning, UPLAY will be the much bigger team, and will need to exploit the Lightning's undersized rotation. 6-foot-11 big man Jaden Bediako was a breakout performer for UPLAY in Indianapolis, and he figures to be a matchup problem for the Lightning. That being said, the Lightning's Posh Alexander and DaShawn Davis have been one of the best backcourt duos through eight games, and have showed zero signs of slowing down. This is a 'pick-em' game, and will definitely be worth a watch.

No. 5 AOT Running Rebels (GA) vs. No. 15 Team United (NC)
Sunday: 11:00 AM EST

Team United (NC) cracked the EYBL Power Rankings for the first time in program history, and they'll have a chance to cement their legitimacy as a Peach Jam contender. AOT adds top-30 junior Christian Brown to an already-loaded lineup, one that Sharife Cooper has led with precision through eight games. Team United junior Juwan Gary and Patrick Williams form a gigantic guard duo, and both will need to be on their game if they intend on upsetting the 5th-ranked Rebels.

No. 14 Nike Team Florida vs. No. 3 Houston Hoops (TX)
Saturday: 11:00 AM EST

The third session concludes with a terrific matchup between ranked foes Houston Hoops and Nike Team Florida. NTF's Kyle Sturdivant and Noah Farrakhan will attempt to slow down Hoops' stars Tyrese Maxey, De'Vion Harmon and Chris Harris - a task easier said than done. NTF will have the edge in the frontcourt, featuring double-figure scorers Vernon Carey Jr, Scott Barnes DeAntoni Gordon. Carey and Barnes are both capable of taking over a game, and NTF will likely need that aggressiveness against a Hoops' squad chock full of EYBL veterans.


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