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Best NBA draft bets at NCAA basketball tournament

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Latest news Best NBA draft bets at NCAA basketball tournament UCLA Bruins’ Lonzo Ball (left) drives to the basket against Jonah Mathews of the USC Trojans during a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament at T-Mobile Arena Arena in Las Vegas on March 9, 2017. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Latest News Mar 12, 2017 , Last Updated: 10:58 PM ET
Most people watch the NCAA’s men’s basketball tournament for the anything can happen excitement of the early rounds — or for gambling purposes.
If, however, you are an NBA diehard seeking a first look at the next big thing, you will be in for disappointment. Likely No. 1 overall draft selection Markelle Fultz, a spectacular freshman talent, played for a woeful Washington squad that did not come close to making it to March Madness. You’ll have to check out the NIT tourney to see him (and who does that?)
Potential top-five selection Dennis Smith, another tall and dynamic point guard, won’t be playing either, because North Carolina State came up small at the ACC tournament.
Still, several potential stars could possibly be in action for multiple games.
You have to start with UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, a stat-stuffing, scoring machine from unique basketball family.
Ball’s father has been pushing Lonzo and his brothers for years, grooming them as potential NBA superstars and he hasn’t been shy about saying such brash things as Lonzo is better than two-time MVP Stephen Curry, or that he will play only for the Los Angeles Lakers. Regardless of how high his ceiling is, there are no ideal comparables for Ball. He is a giant point guard who always has the ball in his hands — kind of like James Harden, who morphed into a point guard this year under Mike D’Antoni and is the NBA’s MVP favourite. But Ball is much more of a pass-first player than Harden, despite an odd, but effective jumper (71% on two-pointers, 41% on threes this season). Try taking your eyes off of Ball when UCLA is on the court, the way he plays is mesmerizing.
A matchup with Kentucky guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk — both expected to go in the top 10 — in the Sweet 16 could be great theatre. Fox is a huge two-way talent , but gives up a few inches to Ball. Monk can fill it up (he averaged 20.5 points) and is another dynamic talent.
No. 2 seed Kansas is led by Josh Jackson, a long (6-foot-10 wingspan) forward who plays point forward for the Jayhawks and does a little bit of everything. He should challenge Ball for the second spot behind Fultz come June.
As usual, Duke has a mega-prospect poised to break out. Jayson Tatum is a small forward like Jackson, but with more size and more of a knack for putting the ball in the hoop. Don’t sleep on his teammate, gunner Luke Kennard, either. Kennard is the same size as former Dukie J.J. Redick and can also really shoot from beyond the arc.
Try to get a look at Finnish 7-footer Lauri Markkanen. He turned heads as a freshman with Arizona, knocking down 43% of his three-point attempts, while shooting 82% at the line. Per draftexpress.com, Markkanen statistically ranks as one of the best shooting players his size in NCAA history. Don’t call him the next Dirk Nowitzki, but his shooting touch certainly serves up some reminders of the German legend.
Another top-10 prospect, though quite a different one stylistically, is Florida State freshman Jonathan Isaac. He can’t do much offensively yet, but scouts drool about him because he is huge, uber-athletic and already an excellent defender.
Michigan State always seems to have a multi-skilled player and Miles Bridges is that guy in 2017. Bridges is an undersized big man who would be maligned as a “tweener” in the old days, but could morph into an all-star in today’s near-positionless NBA world.
THE REST: Justin Patton, Creighton C; Justin Jackson, North Carolina F; Zach Collins, Gonzaga F; T.J. Leaf, UCLA F; Bam Adebayo, Kentucky C.
CANADIAN CONTENT
As has been the case for many years now, a handful of Canadians will be a part of the madness. Unfortunately, Montreal’s Chris Boucher, of the Oregon Ducks, was lost for the season this week due to a torn ACL. Boucher was the best two-way Canadian in the NCAA and his loss is a massive one for the Ducks.
These Canucks will be dancing, though:
* Dillon Brooks, Oregon — Mississauga, Ont. native led all Canadians at 16.3 points per game and is deadly in the clutch.
* Naz Mitrou-Long, Iowa St. — Mississauga senior averaged 15.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists and made three-pointers per game, but has been quiet recently.
* Elijah Long, Mount St. Mary’s — Also from Mississauga, Long stuffed the stat-sheet, averaging 15.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists for the conference champs.
* Justin Jackson, Maryland — From Toronto, Jackson has been an important player (10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds per game, 43% three-point shooting) as a freshman for the Terrapins.
* Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State — Toronto’s Rathan-Mayes averages 4.8 assists, but remains a lethal outside shooter (33%) for the Seminoles.
* Kimball McKenzie, Bucknell — Oakville product has shot 40% on three-pointers and sizzled lately, playing more than 30 minutes a night for the Bison.
* Trae Bell-Haynes, Vermont — Only four Canadians averaged more assists and the Toronto native chiped in with 11.1 points a night.
* Dylan Ennis, Oregon —The senior from Brampton does a little bit of everything, including play excellent defence and hit important three-pointers.
* Duane Notice, South Carolina — From Toronto, Notice averages 10.1 points and 2.3 assists in big minutes (32.8 per game)
* Marial Shayok, Virginia —The junior from Ottawa averaged 20.3 minutes a game and 8.6 points but has not been playing as much lately.
* Matt Taylor, New Mexico St. — Second on team in steals and sixth in minutes, from Toronto.
* Kevin Zabo, Providence — From Gatineau, junior Zabo has had an elevated role recently and has produced.

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