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March Madness Viewing Guide: First round prospects to watch

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A look at the first round draw for 11 top college players that could be wearing a Cleveland uniform next season.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Missouri vs Georgia Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

With the NCAA Tournament bracket released it’s time to consider what games will be most worthwhile to watch. As Cavalier fans, with a vested interest in what the Brooklyn pick becomes, there are ten players in particular that you may want to keep a close eye on. This article will consider the tournament draw for these players.

Trae Young, Oklahoma Sooners

Opponent: Rhode Island Rams

Date: Thursday, March 15

Time: 12:15 pm

Broadcast: CBS

This is one of my favorite first round match-ups. Rhode Island is one of the smallest teams in the country and they play swarming perimeter defense, forcing a ton of turnovers and allowing very few 3-point attempts (seven points better than the NCAA average). Young will need to utilize his ball-handling skills to escape the pressure and his passing skills to set up his bigs to take advantage of the Rams’ weak interior defense. Make no mistake: Rhode Island is a good team and should be slightly favored in this matchup. If Young is able to win the day it would be a noteworthy part of résumé.

Bottom line: Is this game worth your time? Yes.

Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr, Duke Blue Devils

Opponent: Iona Gaels

Date: Thursday, March 15

Time: 2:45 pm

Broadcast: CBS

This matchup poses no challenge for the incredible freshman duo. Iona’s starting center is roughly the same size as Duke’s starting shooting guard. The only chance the Gaels have is to bombard the Duke defense with tons of 3-point shots and hope to win in a shootout. While I will point and laugh if Duke loses to another No. 15 seed, it’s not an upset that will appear on my bracket.

Bottom line: Is this game worth your time? Nope.

Mikal Bridges, Villanova

Opponent: TBD

Date: Thursday, March 15

Time: 6:50 pm

Broadcast: TNT

While it’s still up in the air which No. 16 seed will have the privilege of being demolished by Villanova’s historically efficient offense (No. 2 in the KenPom era), it’s safe to say this will be a game you can skip. Neither the Radford Highlanders nor the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds will be playing the role of Cinderella this March.

Bottom line: Is this game worth your time? Nope.

Collin Sexton, Alabama Crimson Tide

Opponent: Virginia Tech Hokies

Date: Thursday, March 15

Time: 9:20 pm

Broadcast: TNT

Sexton depends on getting to the line to score efficiently, while Virginia Tech makes a concerted effort to stay disciplined and avoid fouling in the paint. He may, on occasion, match up directly with second round prospect Nickeil Walker-Alexander, a 6-5 guard with a 6-11 wingspan. On the other end the Hokies attack will give an excellent opportunity to observe Sexton’s defense. His ability on the ball, rotations and closeouts will all be put to the test by this perimeter-oriented team.

Bottom line: Is this game worth your time? Yes.

Deandre Ayton, Arizona Wildcats

Opponent: Buffalo Bulls

Date: Thursday, March 15

Time: 9:40 pm

Broadcast: CBS

The best defensive rebounder on Buffalo is their 6-3 small forward that weighs 194 lbs. Yeah, they might have some issues with a 7-1 power forward that weighs 260 lbs. Don’t bother watching the carnage in this one, and don’t be “that guy” who out-smarts himself by picking this upset. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Bottom line: Is this game worth your time? Nope.

Mohamed Bamba, Texas Longhorns

Opponent: Nevada Wolf Pack

Date: Friday, March 16

Time: 4:30 pm

Broadcast: TBS

Nevada likes to attack in transition and bomb away from deep in the half court, both of which may force Bamba out of his comfort zone defensively. This will be a good game to help illuminate how Bamba will handle the transition to the more up-tempo and perimeter-oriented NBA. On the other end he should be able to get offensive rebounds and some easy interior buckets against the undersized Wolf Pack.

Bottom line: Is this game worth your time? Maybe.

Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr, Michigan St. Spartans

Opponent: Bucknell Bison

Date: Friday, March 16

Time: 7:10 pm

Broadcast: CBS

The Bucknell defense is simply not good enough to provide a real challenge for the Michigan St. prospects. On the other end, however, the Bison have a trio of skilled seniors that will put the young Spartans to the test. 6-7 forward Zach Thomas is a talented three- level scorer (30 percent usage, 60 percent true shooting) that will be tough for Bridges to contain. Moreover he’s one of the best in college basketball at getting to the line, which could put considerable pressure on the foul prone Jackson as he tries to protect the rim. 6-10 Nana Foulland likewise could cause problems for Jackson with his offensive rebounding, interior scoring and ability to draw fouls. Lastly, the Bison’s point guard, Stephen Brown, is another dynamic player and will match up with the Spartan’s Cassius Winston, a late first to early second round prospect.

Bottom line: Is this game worth your time? Yes.

PF Michael Porter Jr. and C Jontay Porter, Missouri

Opponent: Florida St. Seminoles

Date: Friday, March 16

Time: 9:50 pm

Broadcast: TBS

This will be among the final first round games to tip off, but it’s also one of the best. This may be the only worthwhile look we get at Michael playing against high-level competition before the draft. With a pair of evenly matched teams that are good but not great on both sides of the ball, this has all the makings of a coin flip matchup. That is, unless Michael can elevate Missouri to another level than they’ve shown this year. Don’t overlook the opportunity to observe his younger brother, Jontay, who’s been playing himself into the late lottery conversation (and perhaps more - some statistical models rate him as the top college prospect).

Bottom line: Is this game worth your time? Absolutely.