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Fear the Sword 2019 NBA Draft Watch Guide, Feb. 24 - March 3: Countdown to Conference Tournament week

The college basketball season is close to wrapping up. Here’s a look at this week’s last big conference matchups.

Tennessee v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to struggle, we’d like to offer you some alternative viewing experiences. The Cavs will almost assuredly be picking near the top of the 2019 NBA Draft, and they will have a pick later in the first round, as well. So, 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 top five. 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. There’s a good crop of games this week, headlined by Tennessee/Kentucky, but we’ll get a chance to see some solid mid-major and international games as well.


Duke vs. Virginia Tech - 7:00 p.m. EST, ESPN

Duke: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones, Jack White; Virginia Tech: Nickeil Alexander-Walker

Virginia Tech’s solid defense is going to test Duke if Zion isn’t playing, because they have the guards to throw at Barrett and Reddish and will probably play Duke similarly to Louisville defensively. In particularly, watch for Barrett’s matchups with Alexander-Walker, a good test of NAW’s defensive skill set. Barrett has been on a tear, but this should be a tough matchup for him.

Arkansas vs. Kentucky - 9:00 p.m. EST, SEC Network

Arkansas: Daniel Gafford, Isaiah Joe; Kentucky: Keldon Johnson, P.J. Washington, Ashton Hagans

Washington can continue his tear through the SEC with this game, where we will see if we can get signs of life from Gafford, who went on autopilot around December 15th.


Illinois vs. Purdue - 8:30 p.m. EST, Big Ten Network

Illinois: Ayo Dosunmu; Purdue: Carsen Edwards

Edwards has had a really rough last four games for the Boilermakers, and now has to square off against one of the better defensive guard prospects in the class in Dosunmu.


USC vs. UCLA - 9:00 p.m. EST, ESPN

USC: Kevin Porter, Nikola Rackocevic; UCLA: Kris Wilkes, Jaylen Hands

As unwatchable as UCLA has been this year, the Wilkes vs. Porter matchup is still one to watch. Porter should be able to get Wilkes out of position and score effectively against him, but we will have to see if Wilkes can do the same to the inconsistent Porter on the other end.


Buducnost vs. Bayern Munich - 2:00 p.m. EST, Euroleague TV

Buducnost: Goga Bitadze

An important matchup for Goga Bitadze overseas against Former Cavaliers Great Derrick Williams, who is having an All-Euroleague Team year for Bayern Munich. Any chance to see Bitadze against an NBA-caliber forward who is athletic is a good test, and Williams is the best of that group.

Cornell vs. Yale - 7:00 p.m. EST, ESPN+

Cornell: Matt Morgan; Yale: Miye Oni

The return battle between the Ivy League’s two legit draft prospects. Last time these two played, Morgan had 35 points in a win, but Oni went for 20/7/6 for Yale.


Tennessee vs. Kentucky - 2:00 p.m. EST, CBS

Tennessee: Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield; Kentucky: Keldon Johnson, P.J. Washington, Ashton Hagans

The last outing’s blowout Kentucky win was unexpected, especially in how successful P.J. was against Williams and Schofield. It will be interesting to see how Tennessee adjusts to the amount of post play and backdoor cuts Kentucky was able to hit them with, and if Schofield in particular can show signs of life after looking horrendous in round one.

Pittsburgh vs. Virginia - 2:00 p.m. EST, ACC Network

Pitt: Xavier Johnson; Virginia: De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome

Hunter has been on a tear recently, so this will be a good chance to get eyes on him again. The Xavier Johnson vs. Ty Jerome battle will be interesting as well, with the raw Johnson having to deal with the technically sound defense of Jerome.

Iowa State vs. Texas - 2:00 p.m. EST, Longhorn Network

Iowa State: Talen Horton-Tucker, Tyrese Haliburton; Texas: Jaxson Hayes, Kerwin Roach

The guard matchup between Talen Horton-Tucker and Kerwin Roach is what to watch here, as both second-round value guards are big and good drivers. We could also see the intriguing matchup of Horton-Tucker and Hayes on switches, as the 6’4” Horton-Tucker has the strength to not only contend with Hayes, but maybe give him problems in the post.

Miami vs. Duke - 4:00 p.m. EST, CBS

Duke: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones, Jack White

Miami is bad, so don’t expect to take much away here. Duke is Duke.

Nevada vs. Utah State - 8:30 p.m. EST, CBS Sports Net

Nevada: Caleb Martin, Jordan Caroline; Utah State: Neemias Queta

Queta vs. Caroline is an intriguing battle between mid-major centers with future draft prospects. Queta is a long, lanky athletic big with excellent rim protection instincts, while Caroline is more of a bullish driver and rebounder. If Utah State is going to have a chance to upset Nevada, Queta is going to have to control Caroline.


Nanterre vs. Limoges - 12:30 p.m., EST, various streaming outlets

Limoges: Sekou Doumbouya

After the international break, it’s a good chance to get to see Doumbouya back in action. He’s looked more aggressive since his return from a thumb injury, and should get a good test from former Akron big Demetrius Treadwell against Nanterre.

Michigan vs. Maryland - 3:45 p.m. EST, CBS

Michigan: Ignas Brazdeikis, Charles Matthews, Jon Teske, Jordan Poole; Maryland: Bruno Fernando, Jalen Smith

Bruno Fernando is one of the more divisive players in this class, with some first round grades and others (I’m in this camp) leaving him off the board entirely. Teske is a fun matchup for him because Teske looks the part of real NBA rim protector thanks to his fundamentals. If Fernando scores well against him and keeps him off the glass, I’ll feel better about eventually ranking him.

Washington vs. Stanford - 4:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2

Washington: Matisse Thybulle, Jaylen Nowell; Stanford: KZ Okpala

Okpala had a huge game the last time these two teams matched up, but Washington won because Thybulle had five steals and Nowell went for 22 points. The return trip should be a good battle between the two first-round prospects, Okpala and Thybulle.