Assessing Baylor and Arkansas in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament

March 30th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Baylor and Arkansas square off in an Elite Eight game.  This matchup featured several first-round prospects, such as Baylor’s Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell, as well as Arkansas’ Moody Moody.  It was a much faster paced game than the previous college basketball games that I had seen before, but it was still played at a slower pace than in the games in the NBA.  Still, there was plenty of offense, especially on Baylor’s end, and Baylor shot the ball very well and they were able to get enough stops to earn a victory over Arkansas. 

Baylor received strong performances from their guards, especially from Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague.  Moses Moody struggled with his jump shot all game, and while he made some high-motor plays on both ends of the floor, he made some questionable decisions, and he did not shoot well in his team’s loss to Baylor.  Here are my thoughts on how Mitchell, Teague, and other various prospects fared on this day.

Baylor’s Davion Mitchell scored 12 points and had 6 assists in his team’s win over Arkansas. They will play the Houston Cougars in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
(Photo:
Andy Lyons/Getty Images, via Yahoo Sports)

Baylor’s junior point guard, Davion Mitchell had a solid showing, as he excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the win over Arkansas.  He scored 12 points, and he also had 6 assists in this game. Mitchell showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  He is a strong, speedy guard that has a very good first step to the hoop, and he would often go to his left to score at the rim.  He also showed that he can absorb the contact to draw fouls to get to the free throw line.  Sometimes though, he would take tough, difficult shots that would lead to misses. He also was able to use a crossover move to score on a quick, pull-up jumper from the mid-range.  On the downside, he also missed on a couple of mid-range shots, as he struggled to make shots consistently when he would be further away from the basket.  He also did not take a single three-point shot in this game.

Also, he did a good job of distributing the basketball.  He is a quick guard that can consistently get into the lane, as he would drive and kick balls out to open shooters to net assists.  Mitchell also drove in and threw a nifty, no-look pass to set up a score for a teammate at the rim.  He is an unselfish player that has very good foot speed and court vision, and he was able to rack up assists.  He did commit one turnover, as he collided into a defender off of a drive to commit an offensive foul and a turnover that time.

Though Mitchell didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, he was able to get a defensive board once. He also played solid defense in this game.  Mitchell was able to jump a pass to get a steal, and he was active in contesting jump shots to force misses.  He also successfully drew a charge when defending a drive to get a stop another time.  On the downside, he was called for a blocking foul once, and he would sometimes commit touch fouls due to over-aggressiveness.

In general, Davion Mitchell played very well, as he would score on speedy drives to the hoop, he passed the ball well, and he also played stifling defense in this game.  He had a good showing, and his impact on this game looked to go well beyond the box score.  He is having a tremendous season, and he could be a good pick for an NBA team in the mid first round range in the 2021 draft.

Baylor’s MaCio Teague scored 22 points in his team’s Elite Eight win over Arkansas.
(Photo:
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images, via Yahoo Sports)

Baylor’s senior guard, MaCio Teague turned in an impressive showing, as he scored 22 points, he made 3 threes, and he also collected 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He showed a knack for shooting and scoring the basketball, and he also rebounded and defended well to help his team get the victory.

Teague showed a solid ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  He would often score on open, spot-up threes off the catch, and he also made a couple of corner threes.  He also showed that he can score on mid-range jumpers both off the catch and dribble.  Plus, he also showed that he can finish plays using either hand when driving to the hoop.  He also sprinted down court and hustled to chase down a loose ball to score quickly on an acrobatic layup in transition.  Sometimes, he would tend to miss on floaters a bit too much, but he was effective as a scorer from all over the floor. He didn’t look to pass the ball very much, but he was able to throw a long bounce pass to find a teammate in transition.  While he didn’t get any assists in this game, he also did not turn the ball over on offense.

Also, Teague did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball.  He also played solid defense.  Teague was able to block a put back from behind, and he also swatted a shot off of a cut due to possessing solid athletic gifts and timing.  He also would contest threes to force misses. In summary, MaCio Teague had a strong showing in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He played well on both ends of the floor, and he made big plays to help his team throughout this contest.  He is an agile, skilled combo guard that can shoot and defend, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round on draft day.

Butler’s junior point guard, Jared Butler also played well in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He had a solid, all-around game, and he scored 14 points, he made 2 threes, and he also had 5 assists and 3 rebounds to help his team get the victory. Butler shot the ball very well, especially from downtown.  He excelled at scoring on pull-up jumpers from both the mid-range and from beyond the arc, and he also made a quick three from way out another time.  He also showed that he can draw fouls when driving to the basket to get to the free throw line.  On the downside, he would struggle to score in traffic when he would look to go all the way to the hoop, and he had a couple of his shots blocked in this contest.

He also displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  Butler can throw solid passes off the dribble, and he showed good court vision to get assists.  He would throw good interior passes to find teammates on the move, and he can drive and kick balls to find open shooters.  On the downside, he would sometimes be careless with the basketball, which would lead to turnovers.  He fell on a drive and lost the ball once, and he also threw a lazy pass that got intercepted another time.

Also, he was able to chip in to get his fair share of rebounds on both ends of the court.  Butler also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He was able to actively contest a mid-range shot to force a miss.  He also poked a ball away to nearly get a steal.  On one play though, he struggled to get back on defense and he ended up committing a foul on a drive in transition.

Overall, Jared Butler had a solid showing in his team’s win, and he showed his versatility and a good set of all-around skills to help his team get the victory.  He is an agile, skilled guard that competes hard on both ends of the floor, and his ability to knock down shots, run the point, and defend could enable him to be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first round range in the 2021 draft.

Arkansas’ freshman swingman, Moses Moody struggled in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He was very passive on offense in the first half, and he tended to defer to his teammates a lot.  He was able to make some solid hustle plays on both ends of the floor in the second half, but he didn’t shoot the ball very well, and he showed some questionable decision making skills throughout this contest.

Moody did not make a single three-point shot in this game.  He missed on all of his spot-up threes from beyond the arc, as he hoisted them up in the second half.  He ran off the ball to get it on the left wing, as he missed it from beyond the arc, and it led to a wedgie.  In this game, he preferred to take threes from out on the wings, but he kept passing up open corner threes, as he would dribble in to either take contested mid-range jumpers, or he would pass the ball off entirely.

His shot selection was quite suspect.  He tended to take mid-range jumpers, and though he did split a double team, he missed twice on pull-up jumpers from the mid-range.  He was able to draw free throws after getting fouled after taking a long two from the baseline.  Moody also drew free throws on a strong drive to the rim late in this game.  On the downside, his tendency to pass up open corner threes raises a lot of questions, because a very good shooter should easily knock down those shots, and would likely take those at the NBA level.  It does make me wonder if Moody might not be the pure shooter that he was thought to be, and he seemed to be unwilling to take corner threes down the stretch.

He did show the ability to score on hustle plays.  Moody would run the floor hard to get the ball down court, and he was able to score on a strong drive in transition.  He also drew free throws in transition and off of a backdoor cut another time.  He also scored on a put back in the second half.  On the downside, he would sometimes struggle to finish plays around the basket, and he had a couple of his put backs blocked despite having grabbed offensive rebounds on those possessions.

Also, Moody was fairly turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, he is an unselfish player that can throw sharp interior passes to set up plenty of scoring chances for his teammates.  He was able to throw a sharp, no-look interior pass to notch an assist, and he did a good job of finding teammates on the move to get them the basketball.  On the downside, he would tend to throw inaccurate passes, as he had an entry pass intercepted, and threw another that went astray.  He passed out of an opportunity to take an open corner three, but he instead dribbled into a double team, as he got tied up, which led him to commit another turnover.

Plus, Moody did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  He was active at crashing the glass, and he would leap up to haul in multiple boards to help his team on both sides of the ball.  Defensively though, he struggled in this game.  On the bright side, he was active defensively.  On the downside, he struggled to guard shooters in this game.  He committed a reach-in foul on a mid-range shot, which led him to allow a score and it gave his opponent an extra free throw.  He also sagged too far off of a shooter, which led his man to score on a corner three.  He also got beat on a drive, which led his opponent to throw an accurate lob that set up an alley-oop dunk.

Overall, Moses Moody had his ups and downs, but he did not shoot the ball very well, and his shot selection was not great in his team’s loss to Baylor.  On one hand, he may be more athletic than given credit for, and he was able to score on hustle plays and off the dribble late in this game.  On the other hand, he would tend to force up a lot of difficult shots, and he would tend to settle for taking contested jumpers a bit too often.  Also, that he kept passing up open corner threes seems to raise a lot more questions than answers, considering that his projected role in the NBA would be to be a shooter, and primarily a three-point shooter. 

Throughout this season, Moody has had some really good games, but he’s also had other games where he’s virtually been non-existent on offense.  He is a skilled swingman that likely projects into a 3 and D role in the NBA.  Moody’s shooting skills and size to play out on the wing could get him drafted high this year, but he does have his flaws.  He doesn’t always seem to fully embrace being a three-point shooter in games, and he doesn’t seem to have the defensive disposition, so he probably won’t be an elite defender at the next level, either.  Currently, Moody he could be a likely mid first round pick. He will need to improve embrace the role of being a shooter and defender in games, and if so, he could end up being a solid role player similar to former NBA guard, Arron Afflalo in the association. Otherwise, if he doesn’t embrace modern basketball roles, there’s a chance that he could disappoint and have a relatively short career in the NBA.

Baylor’s Mark Vital played solid defense, and he is a rangy defender that can get steals and blocks, and he also successfully drew a charge when defending on a drive.  He’s an athletic, energetic player that showed some solid defensive versatility, but he also would tend to pick up fouls by being too aggressive in contesting shots. He didn’t look to shoot the ball very much, but he showed that he can score on hustle plays, and he ran in to score on a tremendous tip slam after leaping up to grab an offensive rebound.

He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball, as he was active at getting his team offensive rebounds.  Vital also dribbled in and threw an accurate interior pass to notch an assist, and he did not turn the ball over once on offense.

Overall, Vital is high-motor forward that is a glue guy on his team, and he has played a vital role to help his team this season.  He will need to extend his shooting range and expand upon his skill set offensively in the future, but his motor and defensive prowess could allow him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA next season, and in a favorable scenario, he could end up being a defensive specialist in the association.

Baylor’s 6-9 junior forward, Matthew Mayer played fairly well in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He showed off versatile scoring skills in this game.  He made an open corner three, and he also scored on a turnaround jumper from the mid-range to show his shooting skills.  He also scored on athletic, two-handed dunk off of a backdoor cut.  Mayer missed on a rushed layup off the dribble, and he missed on two other spot-up three-point attempts, but he showed that he is an athletic forward that can score on catch and shoot and catch and finish situations.

He also is an unselfish player that can throw long passes, and he also can make drop-off passes to set up scores for teammates around the basket.  On the downside, Mayer also was fairly turnover prone, as he would sometimes struggle to handle the ball when pressured, and he also threw an inaccurate pass that went out of bounds another time.

Also, Mayer was able to chip in to help his team get their fair share of rebounds.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Mayer would jump on loose balls to get steals, and he also ran in to tie up an opposing ball handler to get another.  Also, he played satisfactory defense in this game.  He also would contest threes to force misses.  On the downside, he would be too aggressive on close outs, which would lead him to commit touch fouls on the defensive end.

Overall, Mayer had a solid showing in this game, and he played fairly well off the bench to help his team against Arkansas.  He may still need to stay in school for another season to show that he can consistently play well when given extended minutes, but he could be a prospect to consider in the second round if he does decide to enter the NBA draft at the end of the season.

Baylor’s Adam Flagler played very well in this game.  He excelled as a three-point shooter and defender in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He showed a knack for scoring on spot-up threes, and he would often poke balls away to get steals.  He also raced in to intercept a crosscourt pass quickly to get another steal for his team.  Flagler also threw a lob pass to notch an assist.  On the downside, he struggled to score off the dribble when he would look to take the ball to the basket. Overall, Flagler is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can shoot and defend.  He may likely need to stay in school for another season, but he could be a prospect to consider in the second round whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Baylor’s Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua is an athletic big man that excelled at scoring on hustle plays, and he also defended well.  He made high-motor plays, as he would score on dunks, and he also moved his feet well to help his team force turnovers and get stops both out on the perimeter as well as in the post.  Sometimes he would overplay the opposing ball handler, which would lead him to commit fouls and occasionally would lead his team to end up in scramble situations. 

Overall, Tchamwa Tchatchoua played well off the bench, and his ability to score and rebound around the basket, and defend helped his team get the win.  He is an athletic big man that played with a very good motor, and he could project into a defensive specialist role if he ends up making it to the NBA.

Arkansas’ J.D. Notae played fairly well when he was on the court, but he fouled out a bit too early in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He showed a knack for scoring on speedy drives to the hoop, and he is a fleet-footed guard that has blazing speed to consistently get to the rim.  He also was able to knock down a couple of threes, and he also drew free throws on a backdoor cut.

On the downside, Notae kept committing charging fouls on aggressive drives to the hoop, and his big strength of getting to the rim also ended up sort of also being a weakness in this game somehow, as he would drive in too fast and he would collide into a defender to commit offensive fouls.  He also would be too aggressive in contesting shots and going for loose balls, and he ended up fouling out fairly early in the second half.

Overall, J.D. Notae is a speedy combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, but he’s also been quite inconsistent throughout this season.  He is a big-play guard that can provide a huge boost off the bench, and he did score 14 points on 5 of 6 shooting, and made both of his threes against Baylor.  However, he also fouled out, which left his team sorely missing of some offense that he could have provided if he didn’t.  His shooting percentages could still use significant improvement, but Notae is a very athletic scorer that could be a key player to watch on Arkansas’ team next season, and if he stays in school, he could potentially end up being a second round pick in 2022.

Arkansas’ 6-6 senior guard, Jalen Tate had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He was very efficient as a scorer, as he scored 13 points on 7 shots, but he didn’t take nearly enough shots, and he committed too many turnovers, and he committed 6 turnovers in his team’s losing effort.

Tate did a very good job of scoring on pull-up jumpers, and he showed a knack for drawing free throws when hoisting up outside shots.  He also showed a knack for drawing free throws when driving to the hoop, but he would sometimes miss when driving to the hoop, as he would sometimes go in a bit too fast and out of control.

He was quite turnover prone, though.  Tate did a good job of passing the ball to cutters to notch assists, and he would move off the ball and throw good interior passes to set up scoring chances for them.  He struggled to handle heavy ball pressure, though, as he would frequently lose the ball and get it poked away when crowded.  He also tried to clear out with his arm on a drive, which led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover that time.

Also, Tate did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He was active defensively, as he would poke balls and deflect passes to help his team get steals and deflections, and he also blocked a shot.  He was active in contesting shots off the dribble, and he also successfully drew a charge another time.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend quicker guards, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Jalen Tate had some good moments in this game, but he was a bit too turnover prone in his team’s loss to Baylor.  It was clear that his team could have used an extra ball handler, but his team also struggled to defend Baylor all night long, as they were scoring easily on jump shots.  Still, Tate had a solid NCAA Tournament, and he is a tall, fairly athletic playmaker that could compete for a roster spot in the NBA next season.

Arkansas’ Davonte Davis had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Baylor, but he showed a knack for scoring on aggressive drives to the hoop, especially when he would drive up court to score on the break.  He struggled to knock down outside shot though, and he would tend to miss when he would take shots from further out. He also rebounded the ball well.  Overall, Davis is an athletic, energetic combo guard that can consistently get to the rim and rebound the basketball, but he will need to improve his outside shot moving forward.

Arkansas’ Jaylin Williams played fairly well in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He would tend to score in the post as well as on rolls to the rim, and he also scored on a tip-in.  He also defended well, as he was able to block a shot to help his team protect the paint, and he also successfully drew a charge when defending on a drive.  Overall, Williams played fairly well in this game.  He will likely need to stay in school for another season, but he could be a prospect to watch if he can continue to improve and hone his overall game.

Arkansas’ 6-7 senior forward, Justin Smith had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He generally excelled as a scorer in the post and off of cuts.  He was able to score on a powerful dunk down low, and he also scored on an acrobatic, reverse layup off of a cut.  He would sometimes get his shots blocked, and he also struggled a bit more when driving to the hoop from further out.

He also is an unselfish player that would get the ball out to shooters to set up scores for them.  He also was fairly active at helping his team get rebounds in this game.  Smith also defended fairly well.  He would poke balls away to get steals, and he also would block and alter shots off of drives to get stops for his team.  He also deflected a pass to nearly get a steal another time.  On the downside, sometimes he would struggle to defend in space or to guard quicker players, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores in the paint.

Overall, Justin Smith played fairly well, as he scored 10 points, and he also had 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in this game.  He will need to improve his outside shot, and he will need to show that he can guard upper echelon opponents at higher levels.  Right now, he may be in between forward positions, and so he may be unlikely to get drafted, but he could still end up carving out a successful career in the G-League or overseas even if he doesn’t end up getting to the NBA.

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