When do the top college prospects for the 2016 NBA Draft take the floor on Friday for the Sweet 16? What will NBA scouts be looking for?
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Note: The numbers listed next to players' names are their current standing in the latest iteration of our Top-100 Prospect Rankings 7:10 PM CBS Chicago, Illinois#4 Iowa State
#47 Monte Morris
, Georges Niang
, Jameel McKay
, Deonte Burton
#38 Malcolm Brogdon
, Anthony Gill
, Mike Tobey
In a matchup of two elite college programs who couldn't play much more differently, this game will be highlighted by an interesting contrast in styles as Iowa State's free-wheeling offense looks to push the tempo against a Virginia team that plays among the slowest paces in the country. Arkansas Little Rock managed to slow the game down successfully against the Cyclones, who responded by scored 78 points shooting 11/21 from beyond the arc anyway, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Cavaliers enjoy similar success in controlling tempo, but it will be interesting to see if they can limit Iowa State's shooting efficiency as well.Georges Niang
has been tremendous through two games against lower seeds putting up huge numbers in one-on-one situations both in the post and on the perimeter. Among the top matchups for college hoops purists this weekend will be between Niang and Virginia's pack line defense. If the Cavaliers are able to slow down the talented senior, Iowa State will look to Monte Morris
to create in the half court. Considering Morris's reputation as one of the most efficient passers in recent college basketball history and the fact that the Cyclones have shot almost 50% from the beyond the arc in the NCAA Tournament, this game may be as much of a test for Virginia's defense as it is Iowa State's offense.
For Virginia's part, this game will serve as perhaps their first big challenge. Tony Bennett
's team was down to Butler at halftime, but solid performances from Anthony Gill
and Malcolm Brogdon
helped them cruise to a comfortable 8-point victory.
Though this game lacks the star power of Thursday's games, it features a pair of highly experienced teams and 6 players featured in the top-55 of our senior class ranking and should be a super-competitive, highly emotional battle because of the stakes for those players. 7:27 PM TBS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania#7 Wisconsin
#41 Nigel Hayes
, Ethan Happ
, Bronson Koenig
vs.#6 Notre Dame
#11 Demetrius Jackson
, #88 Zach Auguste
, V.J. Beachem
, Steve Vasturia
, Bonzie Colson
, Rex Pflueger
, Matt Ryan
Falling out of the top-25 early right off the bat this season, Wisconsin nonetheless surged down the stretch in Big Ten play before eking out two victories in the NCAA Tournament by a total of 7 points even despite Nigel Hayes
struggling to get going offensively. They'll need Hayes, and Bronson Koenig
, who hit the game winning shot against Xavier to get them here, to step up against a Notre Dame team that puts points on the board in bunches but has struggled at times defensively. Hayes holds a size advantage over Bonzie Colson
and has almost 20 pounds on Matt Ryan
, the two players Notre Dame has frequently put at the four spot this season depending on whether they're playing big or small. Hayes would benefit from a strong showing after going 5/16 over the last two games in a contest that figures to be more heavily scouted than one might assume due to the North Carolina-Indiana matchup that follows it.
Fresh off of two narrow, extremely competitive wins of their own, Notre Dame figures to continue to focus on what got them here: the dynamic play of Demetrius Jackson
and their prolific perimeter shooting. Jack has largely lived up to expectations in the NCAA Tournament to this point, but it has been the timely contributions of Notre Dame's roleplayers like V.J. Beachem
and Rex Pflueger
that have been the difference for the Irish through two rounds. Beachem, at 6'8, has been one of the top set shooters in the country this season while it was Pflueger's tip-in, his second of the entire season, that helped Mike Brey's squad past the Lumberjacks in the round of 32.
One of the more intriguing individual matchups in this game will likely come inside as senior Zach Auguste
faces off with freshman Ethan Happ
. Both plays have been very efficient on the offensive end this season, and though neither is an elite prospect at this stage, it will be interesting to see how Happ handles Auguste's athleticism and whether Happ's ability to make crafty plays inside allows him to be a difference maker against a small Notre Dame team.
This game may lack a degree of star power as well, but if Notre Dame's first two games are any indication, this could be a must-watch matchup for avid college basketball fans. 9:40 PM CBS Chicago, Illinois#11 Gonzaga
#26 Domantas Sabonis
, #83 Kyle Wiltjer
, Josh Perkins
#63 Michael Gbinije
, Tyler Lydon
, Malachi Richardson
, DaJuan Coleman
While most eyes will be glued to the terrific Indiana-North Carolina matchup on TSBl, NBA scouts will certainly record this game and go back to it later to see how the various prospects fared.
For Gonzaga, Domantas Sabonis
made himself some money this past weekend with a strong showing beasting Top-10 prospect Jakob Poeltl
on both ends of the floor. The Lithuanian was flexing non-stop in between knocking down jump-shots, cleaning up the offensive glass, finding the open man and playing solid interior defense. Sabonis' lack of length and average explosiveness has prevented him from being considered a lottery-caliber prospect up until now, but it's exactly these smaller conference prospects who can make the biggest gains in the NCAA Tournament with big outings against college basketballs' elite teams.
Sabonis will face a different kind of team altogether in Syracuse, one without a dominant big man to challenge him inside the paint, which will make it easy for him to stay on the floor and could lead to a dominant performance on the offensive glass. The contrast between Syracuse's zone and Gonzaga's high-powered offense will be absolutely fascinating, particularly when it comes to seeing what type of attention is thrown in the direction of power forward Kyle Wiltjer
, one of the most skilled big men in college basketball. Unlike many teams playing primarily zone, Syracuse ranks as one of the best defenses in college basketball with its ability to contest shots on the perimeter.
For Syracuse, freshmen forwards Malachi Richardson
and Tyler Lydon
will be followed closely by the scouts in attendance, as will senior combo guard Michael Gbinije
. Gbinije has shot the ball very well in the NCAA Tournament both with his feet set and off the dribble, and is a huge weapon for the Orange in pick and roll situations, creating for himself and others. 9:57 PM TBS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania#5 Indiana
#28 Thomas Bryant
, #80 Troy Williams
, #90 Yogi Ferrell
, James Blackmon
, Robert Johnson Ogugua Anunoby
vs.#1 North Carolina
#34 Brice Johnson
, #67 Justin Jackson
, #75 Marcus Paige
, #79 Kennedy Meeks
, Theo Pinson
, Isaiah Hicks
, Joel Berry
, Joel James
While perhaps not the best matchup in terms of the quantity of 2016 first round picks assembled, this game is the clear-cut headliner for national media storylines and fans looking for pure entertainment value. It pits two of the most wide-open, high-scoring offenses in college basketball against each other.
Indiana head coach Tom Crean devised a flawless game-plan to beat Kentucky in the Round of 32, putting five shooters on the floor at nearly at all times, keeping the court spaced perfectly, and playing tough and aggressive defense to not give the Wildcats any easy looks. He may opt for a similar strategy in the Sweet 16, as North Carolina is a similarly challenged perimeter shooting team.
A big key to this game, and one of the more intriguing long-term prospects for both teams, is Indiana forward O.G. Anunoby. The unheralded freshman didn't even suit up for every game for Indiana earlier in the season, but has played an increasingly important role as the year has moved on. At 6'8, with quick feet and a very long wingspan, he can guard up to four positions, and absolutely gave projected top-10 pick Jamal Murray
(#7) fits when trying to get his shot off. He's also shown some ability to hit perimeter shots (41% 3P%), but has done so in a very small sample size (just 27 attempts) that leaves a lot to be desired. He'll likely see some time guarding the bigger and more physically developed senior Brice Johnson
(#36), one of the most productive post players and rebounders in the country, which will be a major factor in deciding this game.
Also keep an eye on long-armed Indiana center Thomas Bryant
(#24), who has been extremely prolific (21 points per-40) and efficient (71% 2P%) as a freshman, and has even shown some ability to step outside and shoot 3-pointers. He was outstanding against Kentucky, scoring 19 points in 24 minutes, and has the makings of a future first round pick with his 7'6 wingspan and improving skill-level.