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NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 NBA Draft Prospect Viewing Guide: Friday

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 NBA Draft Prospect Viewing Guide: Friday
Mar 26, 2015, 11:22 am
When do the top college prospects for the 2015 NBA Draft take the floor on Friday for the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament? What will NBA scouts be looking for when they do?
-NCAA Tournament Round of 64 NBA Draft Prospect TV Schedule: Thursday
-NCAA Tournament Round of 64 NBA Draft Prospect TV Schedule: Friday
-NCAA Tournament Round of 32 NBA Draft Prospect TV Schedule: Saturday
-NCAA Tournament Round of 32 NBA Draft Prospect TV Schedule: Sunday
-NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 NBA Draft Prospect Viewing Guide: Thursday
-NBA Draft Prospect First Weekend Overview
-DraftExpress NCAA Tournament Schedule Grid

Note: The numbers listed next to players' names is their standing in the latest iteration of our Top-100 prospect rankings.

All Times Listed are EST

7:15 PM (11) UCLA vs (2) Gonzaga (CBS) – Houston
#11 UCLA #19 Kevon Looney, #53 Norman Powell, Tony Parker, Isaac Hamilton, Thomas Welsh
vs.
#2 Gonzaga #44 Domantas Sabonis, Przemek Karnowski, Kyle Wiltjer, Kevin Pangos

These two teams met in mid-December on UCLA's home floor, resulting in a resounding victory for Gonzaga behind a scintillating 24 points from Kyle Wiltjer in just 30 minutes. This game will likely be even more challenging for UCLA on a neutral court in Houston, especially with the roll Gonzaga is on, evidenced by their 19-point shellacking of Iowa in the Round of 32.

Kevon Looney had a solid outing against Gonzaga last time around, scoring 14 points, pulling down 8 rebounds, and dishing out 4 assists before fouling out. He was able to take advantage of the poor defense of Kyle Wiltjer inside the paint, and will need to do so once again if UCLA is to have any chance at advancing. The shine has worn off the UCLA freshman somewhat in the past months, as scouts are increasingly saying they are worried about his average frame, athleticism and conditioning level. It will be very interesting to track Looney's head to head possessions with Domantas Sabonis if the two match up. The Lithuanian is considered Gonzaga's best pro prospect.

With that said, Kyle Wiltjer has been Gonzaga's best player on the season, and has scored 47 points in 56 minutes in the NCAA Tournament thus far, including six of his nine 3-pointers. Wiltjer's poor frame, wingspan and defensive potential has kept his NBA draft stock grounded thus far, but he's truly one of the most skilled players in the college game. With the emphasis NBA teams are placing on 3-point shooting these days, he will certainly get a look as a Mirza Teletovic or Anthony Tolliver type of prospect.

7:37 PM (8) N.C. State vs (4) Louisville (TBS) – Syracuse
#8 North Carolina State Anthony Barber, Trevor Lacey, Beejay Anya, Abdul Malik-Abu
vs.
#4 Louisville #20 Montrezl Harrell, #39 Terry Rozier, Wayne Blackshear, Chinanu Onuaku

N.C. State is the surprise team of the Sweet 16, a talented group of highly rated players (three top-50 RSCI, seven top-110) coming into college that found a way to get it together when they needed to most, winning two games by a combined total of four points. We'll see how that holds up against a top five defense in Louisville that absolutely stifles opponents with highly aggressive and changing schemes.

What's interesting about N.C. State is not only are they one of the most iso-heavy teams in college basketball according to Synergy Sports Technology, they are also one of the most efficient. They resort to one on one play almost ten times per game according to Synergy, but score just a hair under one point per possession (.976) when doing so. They've been forced to go iso 32 times in the NCAA Tournament thus far, and it hasn't really hurt their effectiveness in the half court, scoring 30 points in those situations.

They couldn't have run into a worse matchup statistically, though, as Louisville ranks as one of the best iso defenses in high-major basketball, and is tops among remaining NCAA Tournament teams. Opponents barely even try to attack their defense in one on one situations. At the head of N.C. State's hero-ball efforts will be speedster point guard Anthony Barber, who reeled off 15 isos of his own last weekend, a huge number, and was able to score 17 points, a NCAA Tournament high thus far.

9:45 PM (5) Utah vs (1) Duke (CBS) – Houston
#5 Utah #14 Jakob Poeltl, #31 Delon Wright
vs.
#1 Duke #1 Jahlil Okafor, #7 Justise Winslow, #28 Tyus Jones, Quinn Cook, Matt Jones, Grayson Allen

This will be one of the most anticipated games of the Sweet 16, a matchup featuring five players currently projected as first rounders in our latest mock draft.

The numbers imply that this matchup is a lot closer than the seeding suggests, as Duke and Utah are currently ranked 5th and 6th in the KenPom rankings, with Duke boasting the superior offense (#2 in NCAA, Utah 15th), while the Utes have a much more intimidating defense (7th best, Duke 56th).

The matchup inside will be the one drawing the most scrutiny from NBA scouts, particularly with the extremely impressive flashes of talent Austrian 7-footer Jakob Poeltl has dropped glimpses of throughout the tournament (his offensive efficiency [1.58 PPP] ranks #1 in the NCAA Tournament thus far among remaining players). Poeltl has terrific agility and instincts for a player his size, but does he have the strength and experience to compete with Jahlil Okafor, one of the most gifted offensive centers we've seen in years? More importantly, can he stay on the floor (and out of foul trouble) for long enough stretches to give Utah a chance?

The perimeter will boast plenty of intrigue as well, with projected first rounders Delon Wright and Tyus Jones going head to head, even if Wright may see some time guarding Quinn Cook, who is a superior scorer. Utah's point guard will tower over both backcourt players regardless, which should give him an excellent vantage point to make passes. Wright wasn't at his best in the first weekend of the tournament, shooting just 4/14 from the field, but his playmaking, rebounding and defense were huge factors in Utah's second half surge to put away Georgetown.

10:07 PM (7) Michigan St vs (3) Oklahoma (TBS) – Syracuse
#7 Michigan State #97 Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine
vs.
#3 Oklahoma #54 Buddy Hield, TaShawn Thomas

Michigan State got to the Sweet 16 thanks to their outstanding defense (ranked third in the Tournament among remaining teams after Kentucky and Duke) and surprisingly, their terrific play in the open court. 30% of their points have come in transition thus far in the Tournament, according to Synergy Sports Technology, and they've been stellar when able to get out in the open floor, at 1.56 PPP. Beyond that, it's been a real struggle for the Spartans to score in the half-court, where they have the worst offensive efficiency (.81 PPP) in the tournament among remaining teams.

Oklahoma has been more balanced thus far, but also had the benefit of only going up against double-digit seeds in Albany (#14) and Dayton (#11). Buddy Hield has struggled with his shooting, hitting just 4/17 attempts from beyond the arc. He'll have to get back on track for the Sooners to advance.

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