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Prospects To Watch: NCAA Tournament Day One

2013 March 21
by Andrew Melnick

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It seems like many NBA fans don’t have a whole lot of interest in college basketball until the weeks leading up to the NBA draft. In some ways, it’s hard to blame them. The 35-second shot clock, short three-point line and sometimes seemingly constant poor decision making are some of the reasons why it’s a frustrating game for NBA die-hards.

That’s why MBO has decided to give you reasons to watch some of these games – many of the feature future NBA players! We’ll use Draft Express for our rankings because, well, we like Draft Express (DX).

Valparaiso (13) vs. Michigan State (4),  12:15 pm EST,  CBS

Michigan State is always loaded with pro prospects. Shooting guard Gary Harris is the highest ranked prospect this season. Harris, a 6’4 freshman is rated as the 28th best prospect according to DX. Harris is averaging 12.9 points per game while shooting 46.3/41.3/75.6%. Junior power forward Adreian Payne is ranked 68th and is averaging 10.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Brendan Dawson is ranked one spot below Payne. He’s going for 9.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Bucknell (11) vs. Butler (6), 12:40 pm EST, TruTV

Butler has been one of the elite programs of the last few years, going to back to back national championship games in 2010 and 2011. They’ve produced NBA players like Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack. According to Draft Express, they don’t have a top 100 prospect this year. However, Bucknell does. Center Mike Muscala is DX’s 37th ranked player. The senior is averaging 19.0 points and 11.2 rebounds per game and shooting 52.0% from the field. He’s averaged double figures in scoring each of his four seasons, except for his freshman season in which he scored 9.9 points per game.

Wichita State (9) vs. Pittsburgh (8), 1:40 pm EST, TBS

Pittsburgh has earned a pretty good reputation NBA-wise and this year is no different.  Freshman center Steven Adams, a New Zealand native, is averaging 7.0 points and 6.2 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game this season. Adams is raw and needs a lot of work, but his size will probably make him a first round pick.

New Mexico State (13) vs. St. Louis (4), 2:10 pm EST, TNT

Neither team has a player in DX’s top 100.  St. Louis, however, has been one of the country’s most pleasant surprises.

St. Mary’s (11) vs. Memphis (6), 2:45 pm EST, CBS

St. Mary’s had to win a first round (PLAY-IN) game to get here. Matthew Dellavedova doesn’t immediately strike you as an NBA player but he is in the top 100 (99) and certainly has a chance to make it. The senior guard is averaging 16.0 points and 6.4 assists per game.

Davidson (14) vs. Marquette (3), 3:10 pm EST, TruTV

Davidson (Stephen Curry) and Marquette (Dwyane Wade) have two of the most well-known players in the league. That doesn’t seem to be the case this season.

Southern (16) vs. Gonzaga (1), 4:10 pm EST, TBS

Gonzaga big man Kelly Olynyk looks like a lottery pick. The 7’0 redshirt junior has a very diverse game and is averaging 17.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He’s shooting 65.2/34.6/78.5. DX has him ranked 12th. Another Gonzaga big, freshman Przemek Karnowski, is a massive 7’1, 305-pound prospect from Poland. He’s averaged 5.5 points and 2.6 rebounds in 10.9 minutes per game.

Oregon (12) vs. Oklahoma State (5), 4:40 pm EST, TNT

Oklahoma State has point guard Marcus Smart (5), who could be the first player selected. We profiled Smart here. Cowboys forward LeBryan Nash is DX’s 43rd ranked player. The 6’7 sophomore is averaging 14.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 46.3/20.8/74.7%.

North Carolina A&T (16) vs. Louisville (1), 6:50 pm EST, TBS

Louisville is one of the best programs in the country, reached the final four last year and is the favorite to win the title this year. Gorgui Dieng, originally from Senegal is a 6’11 center, averaging 10.0 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game for the Cardinals. DX has him ranked 24th. Point guard Russ Smith, the little brother of Knicks forward J.R. Smith is ranked 46th. He’s averaging 18.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game while shooting 40.8/33.3/82.8%.

San Dakota State (13) vs. Michigan (4), 7:15 pm EST, CBS

South Dakota State is led by point guard Nate Wolters (62). The 6’4 senior averaged 23.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game this season. Wolters shot 48.8/39.2/82.0.  Michigan point guard Trey Burke is DX’s 10th ranked player.  The 6’0 sophomore point guard is averaging 19.2 points, 6.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 47.9/40.1/79.3% form the field. Glenn Robinson III, the son of former NBA player Glenn Robinson, is ranked 20th. The 6’6 freshman forward is averaging 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 55.7/32.2/66.3%.  Another NBA player’s son, Tim Hardaway Jr. DX’s 80th ranked prospect is 6’6 and is averaging 14.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He’s shooting 44.9/37.3/70.4%.

Belmont (11) vs. Arizona (6), 7:20 pm EST, TNT

Small forward Solomon Hill is Arizona’s highest rated player (49). The 6’7 senior is averaging 13.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting 44.7/37.2/77.8%.  Power forward Brandon Ashley (59), a 6’7 freshman, is averaging 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

California (12) vs. UNLV (5), 7:27 pm EST, TruTV

Cal guard Allen Crabble, a 6’6 junior is ranked 36th on DX. He’s averaging 18.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 46.2/34.9/81.3%. UNLV freshman power forward Anthony Bennett could be a top-5 pick. He’s ranked 6th on DX. He’s averaging 16.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 blocks per game and shooting 53.8% from the field. Guard Anthony Marshall is DX’s 100th ranked player.

Missouri (9) vs. Colorado State (8), 9:20 pm EST, TBS

Missouri’s junior point guard Phil Pressley is ranked 53rd. Pressley is averaging 11.6 points, 7.1 assists per game and is shooting 37.6/31.6/73.5%.  Colorado State center Colton Iverson is averaging 14.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. The 6’11, 261 lb senior is shooting 59.1% from the field.

Akron (12) vs. VCU (5), 9:45 pm EST, CBS

Akron is led by 7’0 center Zeke Marshall, ranked 96th. Marshall is shooting 65.6% from the field  and is averaging 13.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game.

Harvard (14) vs. New Mexico (3), 9:50 pm EST, TNT

New Mexico has had an excellent season and Harvard, of course, produced Jeremy Lin, but there are no players in the top 100.

Montana (13) vs Syracuse (4), 9:57 pm EST, TruTV

Syracuse always has several NBA prospects. Their highest rated prospect this year is guard Michael Carter-Williams (15). The 6’5 sophomore point guard is scoring 12.0 points, dishing out 7.7 assists, grabbing 4.7 boards and making 2.7 steals per game. He’s shooting 38.7/28.2/72.1%.

Be on the lookout tomorrow morning for Friday’s draft prospects.

Andrew Melnick is the Senior blogger for Magic Basketball Online and a contributor at SB Nation. Andrew has covered the Orlando Magic for four years and also works as a radio host. You can follow him on twitter here.