NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 10: Bradley Beal #23 of the Florida Gators drives against Marquis Teague #25 of the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the semifinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 10, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The 2012 NCAA Tournament resumes tonight, and luckily for us Wizards fans, many of the top prospects in the draft are still in action. Here's a quick rundown of each of the eight Sweet 16 games from an NBA fan's perspective.
Wisconsin vs. Syracuse: The Badgers have no real NBA prospects, but they still offer a firm test for all of Syracuse's fringe draft talent. In particular, this is a good test for Dion Waiters, the dynamic sophomore sixth man that is still the Orange's top prospect. One of Waiters' strengths is how he bounces off defenders when driving to the basket, but will that hold up against the Badgers' physical man-to-man defense? (7:15, CBS)
Louisville vs. Michigan State: If you're looking for a late-first/early-second round pick that could step in right away and play, you'd do far worse than Draymond Green. Otherwise, this game doesn't offer much for the NBA fan. (7:47, TBS).
Cincinnati vs. Ohio State: Now this is a great test for Jared Sullinger. The Bearcats aren't the most talented team offensively, but they have tough, physical perimeter defenders and one of the country's biggest big men in Yancy Gates. While Syracuse offers much more length, Cincinnati is one of the few teams who can defend Sullinger with a bigger player than him. Sullinger's been plagued by minor health issues all year, but if he can succeed against Gates, he'll help recover his draft stock. As someone who has been skeptical about whether Sullinger's game can translate to the pros, I'm going to be re-watching closely. (9:45 or so, CBS)
Florida vs. Marquette: I'm going to be watching this one very, very closely. There's no secret that I'm a big fan of Florida guard Bradley Beal, but going against Marquette and their physical wing defenders will be an interesting test. Which of Florida's three guards will be up for the challenge? I'm hoping Beal seized the momentum and steps up, but we'll have to see. As for the Golden Eagles, do-everything big man Jae Crowder merits a close look. He projects as an NBA small forward, but he's really just a player who finds a way to produce wherever you put him. If he has another big game, his stock will continue to rise. (10:17 or so, TBS)
Baylor vs. Xavier: Perry Jones III did his disappearing act again with two awful games in Baylor's first two NCAA Tournament wins. Now, he has to go up against a Xavier squad with very physical big men. Jones will have to use his quickness to have a good game. (7:15, CBS)
North Carolina vs. Ohio: Barring a miracle, Kendall Marshall won't play for UNC. Harrison Barnes, if you recall, didn't really step his game up last year until Marshall was inserted into the starting lineup. Now that Marshall is out, can Barnes raise his game and lead the Tar Heels to victory? If he can, it'll comfort many of my fears. Of course, it's also worth watching the other five zillion draft prospects on the Tar Heels to see if their games are affected by Marshall's absence. (7:47, TBS).
Indiana vs. Kentucky: Ah yes, the rematch. In the first game between these two teams, Anthony Davis got in foul trouble and was not any sort of factor. That probably won't happen again, but if it does ... well, OK, probably won't mean anything for Davis' stock. I'm also curious to see if a) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can have a good offensive performance, and b) if Cody Zeller can make a little bit more of an impact than he did in the first game between these two squads (11 and 7 is nice, but I want more than nice). (9:45 or so, CBS).
Kansas vs. NC State: This will be a tough matchup for Thomas Robinson. The Wolfpack's frontcourt is long and athletic, led by C.J. Leslie (a rising prospect in his own right) and Richard Howell. Robinson is not going to find it quite as easy to grab all those rebounds against that front line. In many ways, this matchup scares me for Kansas, so if Robinson has a good game anyway, it'll reaffirm my belief that he's the clear No. 2 prospect in this draft. (10:17 or so, TBS)
What are you looking for from these top prospects this weekend?