Everyone on here has college allegiances that will probably dictate which of the 67 March Madness games you'll watch over the next few weeks. But for those of you like me who really only care because it's a chance to scout potential Washington Wizards' draft picks, it can be hard to figure out where to focus one's attention.
Therefore, I've decided to put together this guide to help. Here's a look at each region's games that truly matter to the NBA scout. All rankings via Draft Express' Top 100 prospects list.
Notable prospects: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (5); Mason Plumlee, Duke (11); Gary Harris, Michigan State (23); Gorgui Dieng, Louisville (24); LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State (43); Phil Pressey, Missouri (52); Doug McDermott, Creighton (56); Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke (60); Adreian Payne, Michigan State (68); Branden Dawson, Michigan State (69); Ryan Kelly, Duke (72); Colton Iverson, Colorado State (90), Seth Curry, Duke (93); Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary's (99).
Overview: This region is stacked with excellent college teams, but there aren't a ton of must-watch prospects in here. Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State is the most highly-regarded, but the Wizards don't need a point guard, so he's probably not on their radar. As a third guard, Smart's defense would make him valuable, but he's going to want to start given how high he'll probably be picked. Otherwise, the only lottery pick in the mix is Mason Plumlee, and I'm guessing most of you don't want him. Michigan State's Gary Harris might be a guy to watch as a late-lottery riser if he has a big tournament.
Game of the first round to watch: Oklahoma State vs. Oregon. Most who follow college basketball agree that Oregon was underseeded, so this is a legitimate test for Smart and Nash. Oregon did a nice job on Shabazz Muhammad and Larry Drew II in the Pac-12 title game, so it'll be interesting to see how they deal with Smart. (4:40 EST Thursday, TNT)
Best potential second-round matchup: Louisville vs. Colorado State: There aren't a ton of intriguing games in this round, but Colton Iverson has a chance to make another statement after playing well against UNLV in the Mountain West semifinals. The Wizards may want another big man on their bench, and this matchup offers that.
Best potential second-weekend matchup: Louisville vs. Oklahoma State: Smart against Louisville's pressure could be a good gauge for how he handles the NBA teams that'll pressure him the full 94 feet.
Notable prospects: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga (12); Steven Adams, Pittsburgh (22); Solomon Hill, Arizona (49); DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State (57); Brandon Ashley, Arizona (59); Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga (69); Aaron Craft, Ohio State (86); Jack Cooley, Notre Dame (89).
Overview: I'm guessing Wizards fans will mostly ignore this bracket. There aren't a ton of NBA prospects worth looking at in here, save for some mid-first-round big man prospects. Only two players are in Draft Express' top 45 prospects.
Game of the first round to watch: None of the above. None of the games match up two teams with NBA prospects.
Best potential second-round matchup: Gonzaga vs. Pittsburgh. Pitt's standout freshman big man Steven Adams has a nice chance to increase his stock with a good performance against Olynyk and Gonzaga's solid front line. Adams is still very raw, but in today's NBA, athleticism tends to matter more than polish for big men. If he can make a few highlight plays and hold his own against more experienced big men, it bodes well for his development.
Best potential second-weekend matchup: Any that doesn't involve Kansas State or Wisconsin.
Notable prospects: Ben McLemore, Kansas (2); Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (3); Otto Porter, Georgetown (8); Trey Burke, Michigan (14); James McAdoo, North Carolina (19); Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (20); Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State (27); Jeff Withey, Kansas (31); Patric Young, Florida (39); Reggie Bullock, North Carolina (51); Erik Murphy, Florida (58); Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (61); Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota (74); Kyle Anderson, UCLA (75); Tim Hardaway Jr, Michigan (80); P.J. Hairston, North Carolina (83); Rodney Williams, Minnesota (91); Zeke Marshall, Akron (93); Elijah Johnson, Kansas (97).
Overview: Jeez, this bracket is loaded. The South region features a whopping four lottery picks, seven top-30 prospects and 11 top-60 guys. Potential Wizards targets Otto Porter and Shabazz Muhammad are on the same side of the region, and multiple intriguing second- and third-round matchups await. Better yet, the top prospects have immediate tests against other NBA-caliber talent, giving us a chance to really see them against their peers.
Game of the first round to watch: A tie between Michigan-South Dakota State (Thursday, 7:15 EST, CBS) and UCLA-Minnesota (Friday, 9:57 p.m. EST, truTV). The former features Trey Burke against Nate Wolters, the latter of which is one of the best small-school players in the country. The latter features Muhammad having to deal with Minnesota's physical front line without fellow freshman standout Jordan Adams.
Best potential second-round matchup: Everyone will say Kansas-North Carolina for good reason, but I'm looking straight at Georgetown-San Diego State. Otto Porter has cooled off a bit since a torrid stretch in late-February, and he will go up against a nice forward prospect in his own right in Jamaal Franklin. This would be a good chance for Porter to star against a fellow NBA draft pick.
Best potential second-week matchup: Georgetown-UCLA. Otto vs. Shabazz in a battle that will surely be pointed to many times in the BF comments over the next three months if it happens.
Notable prospects: Cody Zeller, Indiana (4); Anthony Bennett, UNLV (6); Victor Oladipo, Indiana (7); Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse (15); C.J. Leslie, N.C. State (30); T.J. Warren, N.C. State (32); Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State (35); Allen Crabbe, California (36); Mike Muscala, Bucknell (37); Shane Larkin, Miami (40); Rodney Purvis, N.C. State (48); Andre Roberson, Colorado (53); Brandon Paul, Illinois (62); Kenny Kadji, Miami (63); Richard Howell, N.C. State (73); Anthony Marshall, UNLV (100).
Overview: This bracket features a number of solid prospects and a couple really good matchups along the way. Indiana is obviously the team to watch from a scouting standpoint thanks to the presence of both Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, but there are a number of other interesting places to look. UNLV and Anthony Bennett have some good matchups early, and North Carolina State promises to offer Indiana a tough game if it can get by Temple.
Game of the first round to watch: UNLV vs. California. This may be your only chance to see Bennett, the intriguing offensive dynamo that could be the Wizards' Stretch 4 of the future if they deem him worthy of drafting. California is playing a virtual home game in San Jose and nearly beat UNLV early in the year. (Thursday, 7:27 EST, truTV. At the same time as Michigan-South Dakota State)
Best potential second-round matchup: Indiana-N.C. State, by far. The Wolfpack have underachieved this year, but few teams in the tournament have the kind of long, athletic big men that they possess. What a great test for Zeller.
Best potential second-week matchup: Indiana-UNLV. Three potential top-10 picks, all in the same game. While Indiana-Miami would be great for a college fan, NBA scouts will care far more about this regional final matchup.
GUIDE TO THE FIRST ROUND
The best game to watch in each time slot. For a full list of TV times, click here.
Thursday mid afternoon: Oregon vs. Oklahoma State, 4:40 p.m. EST, TNT.
Thursday early evening: Michigan vs. South Dakota State, 7:15 p.m. EST, CBS.
Thursday late evening: Missouri vs. Colorado State, 9:20 p.m. EST, TBS.
Friday early afternoon: Temple vs. N.C. State, 1:40 p.m. EST, TBS.
Friday mid afternoon: Colorado vs. Illinois, 4:40 p.m. EST, TNT.
Friday early evening: Florida Gulf Coast vs. Georgetown, 6:50 p.m. EST, TBS
Friday late evening: Minnesota vs. UCLA, 9:57 p.m. EST, truTV.
TOP 5 POTENTIAL SECOND-ROUND MATCHUPS
5. Gonzaga vs. Pittsburgh
4. UCLA vs. Florida
3. Kansas vs. North Carolina
2. Georgetown vs. San Diego State
1. Indiana vs. N.C. State