As the Cleveland Cavaliers become less watchable by the game, we’d like to offer you some alternative viewing experiences. The Cavs will almost assuredly be picking at the top of the 2019 NBA Draft, and it’ll be important to keep tabs on all of the top prospects this winter. That might be a challenge this year, as the class could have a lot of fluctuation during the season, especially outside of the top0five. That can make it difficult to keep track of everyone.
But never fear — we will be here to provide your weekly watch guide to all of the top prospects. Each week, we will break out the best games of the week for NBA Draft interest, including who will be matching up and where to find the week’s top games in college basketball and Europe. That starts Tuesday, with perhaps one of the biggest matchups of the year.
Duke vs. Kentucky - 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Duke: Cameron Reddish, Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Tre Jones; Kentucky: Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley, P.J. Washington
The Champions Classic kicks off, as it always does, with a high-profile matchup that is stocked with draft prospects. This will be your first chance to see three top-five prospects for Duke against teams that aren’t Canadian or Division II HBCUs, and should help shed some light on how the three will delineate offensive responsibilities. Johnson vs. Barrett will be interesting because Johnson’s defensive profile might give Barrett some fits off the bounce. The point guard matchup between Quickley and Jones will also be one to watch, as the two were rated pretty similarly by recruiting services, but Jones seems like the much stronger NBA prospect. This is where everyone on Draft Twitter will likely be on Tuesday.
North Carolina vs. Wofford - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN 2
North Carolina: Nassir Little, Coby White; Wofford: Fletcher Magee
This one should be entertaining, as both teams look to have pretty good offenses and it’s a revenge game, as Wofford beat UNC last year. The Tar Heels didn’t have two potential top-ten picks in 2017 though. This will be a good look at how White is going to function in terms of ball-handling responsibility on offense, and Magee, while pretty clearly a second-round prospect at best, will be a pretty good test of Little’s defense by running him through a thousand screens off ball. It’s a valuable game for us even if UNC blows them out.
Western Kentucky vs. Washington - 10:30 p.m., ESPNU
Western Kentucky: Charles Bassey; Washington: Matisse Thybulle
Not a high profile game, but one that matches up two players who could be high risers. Bassey figures to be one-and-done at a mid-major, and could fly up the board if he dominates — this will be one of his best shots at a marquee performance. Meanwhile Thybulle, a junior shooting guard, is a breakout candidate if he can show offensive progression. Check the highlights here after Duke-Kentucky ends.
Cedevita Zagreb vs. Limoges - 2:30 p.m., EuroleagueTV, Various International outlets
Limoges: Sekou Doumbouya
Top-ten prospect Dumbouya has been getting solid playing time in Eurocup, averaging 7 points per game and shooting 81.8 percent inside the three-point arc in four games off the bench. This is a high-stakes game for him, with a win against Cedevita going a long way towards a spot in the next round of the competition. This is a good chance to see former Cavs London Perrantes and Samardo Samuels as well.
Arkansas vs. Texas - 7:00 p.m., ESPN
Arkansas: Daniel Gafford; Texas: Kerwin Roach
Razorbacks center Daniel Gafford is a lottery prospect with top-ten upside, and Texas is a tough matchup for him early. How valuable he is on offense against the press, and how he fairs against a Texas team with a lot of good driving guards, will see if his stock continues to build in his sophomore season.
UNC Greensboro vs. LSU - 8:00 p.m., SEC Network
LSU: Naz Reid, Tremont Waters, Darius Days
Reid could float himself into contention for the Cavs, and he gets a nice early test against one of the mid-major scenes’ most disciplined defenses.
Eastern Washington vs. Oregon - 9:00PM ET, PAC-12 Network
Oregon: Bol Bol, Louis King
You probably aren’t going to catch Oregon on Tuesday, so settle in for a nightcap on Friday to see Bol Bol in action against a decent Big Sky team. That is, if you can find PAC-12 Network.
Duke vs. Army - 1 p.m. ESPN
Duke’s going to destroy Army, but pretty much every Duke game should be considered appointment viewing this year.
Vanderbilt vs. USC - 9:00PM ET, PAC-12 Network
Vanderbilt: Simi Shittu, Darius Garland, Saben Lee; USC: Kevin Porter, Nick Rackocevic
A very interesting matchup between a pair of top-ten prospects and a team built to give both problems. Shittu and Garland are both lottery talents, but USC can be problematic for them. Rackocevic and Bennie Boatright both have size advantages on Shittu, and should start to answer the small-ball five projection. Meanwhile, Porter has the athleticism to really bother to diminutive Garland. This should be a really fascinating game.