With the 2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket officially set, we take a look at how the first weekend is shaping up from a NBA Draft perspective. Who are the prospects and what will NBA teams be looking for in each pod?Note: The players listed next to each team are those appearing in our current rankings of the Top-100 prospects for the 2014 Draft. A handy schedule, organized on a grid to help you organize your TV watching schedule.Full Bracket, TV Guide and Tip TimesFIRST FOUR (Dayton)#16 Albany
vs.#16 Mt. St. Mary'sMar. 18, 6:40PM - truTV
-#12 N.C. State
#18 T.J. Warren
, Tyler Lewis
, Anthony Barber
, Beejay Anya
#50 Semaj Christon
, Justin Martin
, Jalen ReynoldsMar. 18, 9:10PM - truTVAnalysis:
Big game here for top-50 prospects and fellow Brewster Academy products T.J. Warren
and Semaj Christon
, who both certainly have eyes on the 2014 Draft and will not want to see their season end on Tuesday already. With the winner going on to play a reeling St. Louis team in Orlando on Thursday, there's a chance to extend the season even further, which means there' s a lot to play for. It's rare to get two possible first rounders in one game in Dayton, so expect a good contingent of scouts to be in the arena for this game.
Fellow Brewster alum Jalen Reynolds
will likely need to put a body on his former teammate Warren for some stretches. The 21-year old redshirt freshman certainly looks the part of a NBA power forward with his tremendous frame and explosive athleticism, and is a terrific offensive rebounder, but is extremely raw offensively and is still learning how to play.
-#16 Cal Poly
vs#16 Texas Southern Aaric MurrayMar. 19, 6:40PM - truTVAnalysis:
Texas Southern's Aaric Murray
is a well-traveled senior, having started out at La Salle, transferring to West Virginia, and then moving on to Texas Southern to finish out his career. Measuring 6-11 in shoes, 250 pounds and with a 7-3 wingspan, he doesn't look like your typical SWAC big man. Considering he scores 25 points per-40 minutes, can step outside and shoot 3s, and is also a shot-blocking presence, he certainly doesn't play like one either. Murray was a top-35 prospect coming out of high school, but is turning 25 years old in July and has a litany of off-court red flags scattered about the many turns he's taken in his career thus far. His NBA draft prospects are thus likely limited, but that doesn't mean he won't be looking to go out with a bang this week. 13-19 Cal Poly will likely be no match, but the big question will be what he can do against Wichita State. He certainly makes the 1/16 matchup look a LOT more interesting for Texas Southern on Friday.
#54 Devyn Marble
, Gabriel Olaseni
, Melsahn Basabe
, Aaron White
, Adam Woodbury
#66 Jarnell Stokes
, #89 Jordan McRae
, Jeronne Maymon
, Robert HubbsMar. 19, 9:10PM - truTVAnalysis:
Another Dayton game with a fair amount of draft intrigue. Senior wings and PIT candidates Devyn Marble
and Jordan McRae
go head to head in a solid matchup with second round implications, while inside bruiser Jarnell Stokes
will try to impose his will on Iowa big men Aaron White
, Adam Woodbury
and Gabe Olaseni. Considering the winner of this game gets to play a UMass team that many feel was overseeded as a #6, there's a significant opportunity here, especially with the winner of Duke/Mercer waiting in Raleigh.
South RegionOrlando (March 20, 22)#1 Florida
#40 Chris Walker
, #48 Patric Young
, Casey Prather
, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete
, Kasey Hill
, Michael Frazier
, Dorian Finney-Smith
vs.#16 Albany/Mount St. Mary's#8 Colorado
#51 Spencer Dinwiddie
(INJURED), Josh Scott
, Xavier Johnson
#84 Lamar Patterson
, Talib Zanna
, James Robinson Analysis:
Pitt senior wing Lamar Patterson
started off the season as well as any player in the country, but faded quite a bit in the month of February as Pitt lost momentum and even started showing up as a bubble team in some Tournament projections. He's got a nice opportunity to finish out his career strong with a winnable game against Colorado and then a possible matchup with the Tournament's #1 overall seed.
-San Diego (March 21, 23)#5 VCU
#99 Juvonte Reddic
, Briante Weber
, Treveon Graham
vs.#12 Stephen F. Austin#4 UCLA
#19 Kyle Anderson
, #34 Zach LaVine
, #44 Jordan Adams
, Norman Powell
, Tony Parker
vs.#13 Tulsa D'Andre WrightAnalysis:
Some very intriguing matchups in San Diego, with Havoc running into the highly efficient and slow-tempoed Stephen F. Austin, which is a huge contrast in styles. VCU's Juvonte Reddic
looks the part of a NBA power forward, but only plays like it sometimeshe'll want to finish off his career strong and enter the draft process with as much momentum as possible. Briante Weber
is an analytics darling with his ridiculous steal rate, which ranks #1 in college basketball, while Treveon Graham
is their go-to guy offensively. Both are likely 2015 draft prospects who can help their stock quite a bit with a very attractive potential matchup with UCLA on Sunday, should both teams advance.
UCLA will need their guard prospects Kyle Anderson
, Zach LaVine
, Jordan Adams
and Norman Powell
at their absolute best if they are to make the Sweet 16. Can they handle the pressure of VCU? Specifically, can their 6-9 primary ball-handler, nicknamed Slo-Mo, handle Havoc? This will certainly be one of the most entertaining games of the first weekend if it materializes.
-Buffalo (March 20, 22) #3 Syracuse
#14 Tyler Ennis
, #21 Jerami Grant
, #93 C.J. Fair
, Michael Gbinije
, Dajuan Coleman
(INJURED), Rakeem Christmas
vs.#14 Western Michigan
Shayne Whittington#6 Ohio State
#64 LaQuinton Ross
, #77 Aaron Craft
, Amir Williams
, Shannon Scott
, Sam Thompson
, Amedeo Della Valle
, Marc Loving
vs.#11 Dayton Dyshawn Pierre
, Jordan SibertAnalysis:
Syracuse is reeling after losing five of their last seven games, and now their road to the Sweet 16 looks much more difficult with Western Michigan and then potentially Ohio State in their way. Their offense has fallen off a cliff as of late, with has caused scouts to question whether the hype around freshman point guard Tyler Ennis
college basketball's darling in the first six weeks of 2014was somewhat premature. Western Michigan's 6-11 senior Shane Whittington has a nice opportunity to show off before attending the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament next month.
Should both Ohio State and Syracuse advance, their matchup on Saturday will be one of the most competitive games of the first weekend, one scouts are already salivating over. Ennis would have a major test in the form of Aaron Craft
and Shannon Scott
, as Ohio State sports one of the best defenses in all of college basketball.
-St. Louis (March 21, 23)#2 Kansas
#1 Andrew Wiggins
, #2 Joel Embiid
(INJURED), #33 Wayne Selden
, Perry Ellis
, Tarik Black
, Brannen Greene
, Naadir Tharpe
, Jamari Traylor
vs.#15 Eastern Kentucky#7 New Mexico Kendall Williams
, Cameron Bairstow
, Alex Kirk
#53 Dwight Powell
, Josh Huestis
, Chasson Randle
, Anthony BrownAnalysis:
Kansas' defense hasn't been up to standard this season, but has completely fallen off a cliff since Joel Embiid
has gone down with a back injury. Eastern Kentucky sports a veteran backcourt and a highly efficient offense, which could lead to a very up-tempo and entertaining contest. Lottery teams will be watching to see how Andrew Wiggins
approaches this weekend, as Kansas will certainly need him to be aggressive in order to survive without Embiid. Kansas will be a popular pick to be upset at some point this weekend, as even if they advance their next opponent will be a major challenge as well with their weakened frontcourt.
New Mexico and Stanford is one of the better games we'll see on Friday, as both teams sport a surprisingly high number of pro prospects, virtually all of whom are seniors and therefore have an even greater sense of urgency to extend their careers. The frontcourt matchup of Dwight Powell
versus Alex Kirk
and Cameron Bairstow
should be especially entertainingall three are skilled and capable of big men who could easily find themselves on NBA rosters. Stanford small forward Josh Huestis
is an intriguing physical prospect who can really lock down on defense, but is inconsistent offensively. Scouts will want to see what he can bring to the table as he should be a significant matchup seeing some minutes at the power forward position. Keep an eye on New Mexico point guard Kendall Williams
San Diego (March 21, 23)
#1 Arizona #8 Aaron Gordon, #28 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, #38 Nick Johnson, #61 Kaleb Tarczewski, T.J. McConnell, Brandon Ashley (INJ), Gabe York
#16 Weber State Davion Berry, Joel Bolomboy
#8 Gonzaga #82 Przemek Karnowski, Kevin Pangos, Sam Dower
#9 Oklahoma State #6 Marcus Smart, #78 LeBryan Nash, #79 Markel Brown
Analysis: NBA teams will likely be crossing their fingers for a Arizona-Oklahoma State Round of 32 matchup, just to see what Marcus Smart can do against the #1 defense in college basketball. First, Arizona will need to get past a fairly talented #16 seed in Weber State, with a very skilled guard in Davion Berry and an athletic sophomore big man in Joel Bolomboy, who is a tremendous rebounder.
Gonzaga has the size to give an undersized Oklahoma State team serious problems inside the paint behind centers Przemek Karnowski and Sam Dower, in what is certain to be one of Friday's most anticipated games. How those two big men operate together, on both ends of the floor, will likely play a huge role in the outcome of this game. Gonzaga also likes to play both of their point guards, Kevin Pangos and David Stockton, at the same time, which means one of them will need to cover Marcus Smart. That's a tall task, and one scouts will be watching closely.
Spokane (March 20, 22)
#5 Oklahoma Cameron Clark, Buddy Hield
#12 North Dakota State Taylor Braun
#4 San Diego State Josh Davis, Dwayne Polee, Winston Shepard, Xavier Thames
#13 New Mexico State Sim Bhullar, Tshilidzi Nephawe
Analysis: Interestingly enough, North Dakota State might actually have the best prospect of all four teams in this pod in small forward Taylor Braun, a smart, skilled, sweet-shooting senior with NBA size. North Dakota State is a very efficient offensive team, which should make for a very entertaining game against an Oklahoma team who some feel is overseeded as a #5. Your 5/12 upset could be right here.
New Mexico State is the tallest team in college basketball, playing two giants together for long stretches, which could give some problems to San Diego State. This will be a very interesting matchup to watch, particularly the exploits of 7-5 sophomore Sim Bhullar, who scores efficiently inside and blocks plenty of shots. How many touches can the Aggies get him inside?
Milwaukee (March 20, 22)
#2 Wisconsin #27 Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes
#7 Oregon Mike Moser, Joseph Young, Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis
#10 BYU Tyler Haws, Eric Mika
Analysis: Oregon/BYU looks like a very entertaining matchup, pitting two up-tempo teams against each other. The Joseph Young Tyler Haws matchup at the shooting guard position is especially promisingboth are excellent shooters who get their offense in very different ways. It will be very interesting to see how either team approaches their game with Wisconsin should the Badgers advance.
San Antonio (March 21, 23)
#3 Creighton #10 Doug McDermott
#14 Louisiana-Lafayette #36 Elfrid Payton, Shawn Long
#6 Baylor #47 Isaiah Austin, #71 Cory Jefferson, Ishmail Wainright, Ricardo Gathers
#11 Nebraska Terran Petteway
Analysis: Look for a significant contingent of NBA teams to attend the Creighton-Louisiana Lafayette game, as it's been more than three months since scouts have been able to evaluate Elfrid Payton against a major-conference opponent. This is bound to be a very entertaining game, as neither team plays very much defense, and everyone will want to see what Doug McDermott has planned for the Tournament.
Looking ahead, Creighton is exactly the type of team that can give Baylor problems, should both advance, as McDermott and Ethan Wragge are two of the best zone-busters in college basketball. Isaiah Austin will have to be much more dominant on the glass and inside the paint offensively than he has in his career so far if Baylor is to make the Sweet 16.
Raleigh (March 21, 23)
#1 Virginia #87 Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell, Justin Anderson, Mike Tobey, Malcolm Brogdon
#16 Coastal Carolina
#8 Memphis #72 Shaq Goodwin, Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon, Geron Johnson, Nick King, Austin Nichols
#9 George Washington Maurice Creek, Patricio Garino, Isaiah Armwood
Analysis: All eyes will be on Memphis' senior backcourt of Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon and Geron Johnson to see if they can lead the Tigers past GW and possibly into the Sweet 16 with a relatively favorable matchup against Virginia. Memphis has the talent to give UVA major problems, so there's definite upset potential here despite going up against a very well coached squad.
Spokane (March 20, 22)
#5 Cincinnati Justin Jackson, Sean Kilpatrick, Jermaine Lawrence, Shaq Thomas
#12 Harvard Kyle Casey, Siyani Chambers
#4 Michigan State #15 Gary Harris, #24 Adreian Payne, #67 Keith Appling, #69 Branden Dawson
#13 Delaware Devon Saddler
Analysis: Few teams in this tournament have as much talent as Michigan State, which means Cincinnati will have their hands full should they advance past Harvard, despite sporting one of the top defenses in college basketball.
Buffalo (March 20, 22)
#2 Villanova James Bell, Ryan Arcidiacono, Daniel Ochefu, Josh Hart, JayVaughn Pinkston
#7 UConn #85 Shabazz Napier, DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey, Ryan Boatright, Amida Brimah, Omar Calhoun
#10 St. Joseph's Ronald Roberts, Halil Kanacevic
Analysis: A classic matchup of former Big East rivals awaits UConn and Villanova, should both teams advance to the Round of 32, which will likely be a primetime draw for TV viewers and the audience in Upstate New York. UConn has one of the best collegiate guards around in Shabazz Napier, and is arguably a more talented team overall than Villanova. Look for many to pick the Huskies to advance here against a Villanova team that lacks star power.
San Antonio (March 21, 23)
#3 Iowa State Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane, Georges Niang, Monte Morris
#14 N.C. Central
#6 North Carolina #81 James McAdoo, #70 Brice Johnson, Marcus Paige, Kennedy Meeks, J.P. Tokoto, Leslie McDonald, Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks, Joel James
#11 Providence Bryce Cotton, Kadeem Batts, Carson Desrosiers, Kris Dunn (INJURED), Tyler Harris
Analysis: A lot of interesting matchups in this pod, starting with Bryce Cotton going up against Marcus Paige. Providence is the type of team that could give the Tar Heels problems as they showed in winning the Big East tournament. TV executives will certainly be crossing their fingers for an Iowa State-UNC matchup on Sunday, pitting two of the fastest teams in college basketball against each other, and plenty of terrific storylines.
St. Louis (Friday)
#1 Wichita State #86 Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet
#16 Cal Poly/Texas Southern See First Four Above
#8 Kentucky #4 Julius Randle, #12 Willie Cauley-Stein, #26 James Young, #59 Alex Poythress, #60 Aaron Harrison, #63 Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee
#9 Kansas State Marcus Foster, Shane Southwell
Analysis: The committee certainly didn't do Wichita State any favors here, which is an interesting reward for an undefeated season. Everyone will want to see how the Shockers match up with Kentucky's stable of McDonald's All-Americans, but Calipari's crew will need to advance versus Kansas State first. Nevertheless, look for a contingency of analysts to pick Kentucky to advance to the Sweet 16, as they seemed to be hitting their stride in taking Florida to the wire in the SEC Tournament Championship game.
#5 Saint Louis
#12 N.C. State/Xavier See First Four Above
#4 Louisville #20 Montrezl Harrell, #45 Russ Smith, Wayne Blackshear, Chris Jones
Analysis: The committee shocked everyone by giving Louisville a 4 seed despite the absolute rampage they've been on the past six weeks. Fortunately for them they don't seem likely to be tested too seriously in the opening weekend against offensively challenged teams that look ill-suited to handle their punishing brand of defense.
#2 Michigan #17 Nik Stauskas, #37 Mitch McGary (INJURED), #43 Glenn Robinson, Jordan Morgan, Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton
#7 Texas Isaiah Taylor, Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh, Jonathan Holmes
#10 Arizona State #49 Jahii Carson, #90 Jordan Bachynski, Jermaine Marshall
Analysis: Jahii Carson will need to rev into high gear if he's to ignite his faltering draft stock. The speedster has struggled with efficiency both inside and outside the arc as of late, with question marks about his off-court intangibles also taking a toll on his stock. Approaching the final games of his college career, regardless of the result of this weekend, the best way for him to get back on track with scouts is to win games. A matchup against an overseeded Texas team which has been in a tailspin as of late is a great place to start, but a likely contest with #2 Michigan will be very difficult for anyone to handle.
Nik Stauskas is one of the best offensive players in college basketball, but fellow backcourt mate Caris LeVert has some nice buzz going after a very strong showing in the Big Ten portion of Michigan's schedule. He looks like more of a 2015 prospect at the moment, but a deep March run could change that potentially.
#3 Duke #3 Jabari Parker, #16 Rodney Hood, Rasheed Sulaimon, Marshall Plumlee, Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins, Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, Semi Ojeleye
#6 UMass Cady Lalanne, Chaz Williams
#11 Iowa/Tennessee See First Four Above
Analysis: A nice draw for Jabari Parker and Duke should see them through to the Sweet 16, as UMass looks to be overseeded as a #6 seed and Iowa/Tennessee would be playing their third game in five days on Sunday should they advance. Regardless, everyone will want to see how the freshman scoring machine handles himself, and how much help he gets from fellow combo forward Rodney Hood, a lottery prospect in his own right.