NBA Prospects to watch in the NCAA Tournament
Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Vincent Goodwill spoke with NBA Draft analyst Krysten Peek about names that NBA fans should keep an eye on during the NCAA Tournament.
VINCENT GOODWILL: KP, the tournament is starting up. You just issued-- we just had the brackets revealed Sunday, and today is Monday. So, KP, what players are you going to be paying a lot of attention to over the next couple of weeks that could leap up the draft boards? And does the tournament actually help players leap up the draft boards anymore?
KRYSTEN PEEK: It does, and the past has shown that it has. Ochai Agbaji played himself into a lottery pick last year when he led the Kansas Jayhawks to a national title. We've seen it with De'Andre Hunter in years prior to this where they made the Final Four. So it does help players that are kind of at the back half of the first round, and it can propel them into the lottery.
And in the first weekend, the first couple of weekends, I'm watching a lot of matchups. And particularly I want to see Arkansas-- where are they? They're in the-- I think they're the West region. So the West region, yes. Kansas is the number 1 seed. Arkansas playing Illinois.
I'm looking for that Kansas-Arkansas matchup at the guard position with Nick Smith Jr., who came back from a knee injury this year, and Anthony Black there in the backcourt going up against Gradey Dick and Jalen Wilson, who is one of the players that I'm projecting that can help his draft stock the most in this tournament. So I'm praying to the basketball gods that that happens.
And then over in the East Region, it's the battle of the bigs. Hopefully, it's the Sweet 16 where we have player of the year Zach Edey from number 1 Purdue. 7 foot 4, unstoppable big man in the lane, who could potentially go up against your favorite team, the Duke Blue Devils, and the two freshmen that they have on their court, Kyle Filipowski, a 7-footer, and Dereck Lively, 7 foot 2. I think the battle in the post would be so much fun. So those are the two matchups--
VINCENT GOODWILL: Don't get me rooting for Duke.
KRYSTEN PEEK: --that I'm crossing my fingers for.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Don't get me rooting for Duke. You know better than that, Krysten.
KRYSTEN PEEK: Just with the matchup. I want good matchups. That's what I love. I live for the tournament for good matchups.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Yeah, so I live for Duke getting beat, right? I feel like Duke should have disbanded their program after getting beat by North Carolina on Coach K Night and then get getting beaten again by North Carolina in the national semifinal. Nothing, Krysten, brought my cold heart more joy than watching Duke get beat.
I felt like they should have suffered the death penalty of the program after that. You have nothing to live for after that. It was so much fun. Krysten, this is how much I hate Duke. I hate Duke so much that I rooted for Michigan State in 2019. And I believe that was the regional semifinal when Duke had Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett.
I was rooting for Michigan State, and I hate Michigan State. I hate everything about Michigan State athletically, and I was rooting for Michigan State against Duke. That's how much I hate Duke. And you're asking me to want to watch Duke in the Sweet 16. I want them popped early.
KRYSTEN PEEK: Well, I'll tell you what, I don't know if it's going to happen, Vinny. Because who do they-- they have Oral Roberts in the first round. And then if Tennessee can make it past Louisiana-Lafayette-- they're down their starting point guard, Zakai Ziegler, who went down with a season-ending ACL injury, and they haven't been the same since.
So they got a very, very good draw in the East that is very beatable. And look, they could face Michigan State again in the Elite Eight if they get past Purdue. So maybe this is your time again where you can root for Michigan State.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Well, I can't--
KRYSTEN PEEK: Michigan State is just giving you another opportunity to root for them. That's all.
VINCENT GOODWILL: No, they're not.
KRYSTEN PEEK: Brackets are here. Be sure to get in on the action with Yahoo Fantasy's Tourney Pick 'Em for both the men and women. You could win $25,000 in our Best Bracket Contest. It's free to play, so head to tourney.yahoo.com.