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Who to Watch in NCAA this Friday

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The NCAA Men's Basketball season starts today! Here's who to watch and how you can do so.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Does Robert Covington's knee got you down? Does stomaching another 0-fer start make you want to quit this team? Are bizarrely timed articles criticizing the Sixers for things that have been hashed and rehashed three thousand times making you wish it would all go away and people would just leave us all alone? Do bench lineups featuring Phil Pressey, Isaiah Canaan, and Hollis keeping you up at night?

If any of these conditions are ailing you, we have the perfect remedy for you! As fans of the team that is perpetually in "But wait till next year!" mode, we've got the perfect things to help us look forward to next year:

Number 1: Another terrible Sixers team that has a real shot at competing for the worst record in the league with the Brooklyn Nets and LA Lakers.

Number 2: A Top 3 protected pick from the aforementioned Lakers. If the season ended today, they would have the fifth worst record in the league, which would transfer to the Sixers as an additional lottery pick.

Number 3: An unprotected pick swap with the fantastic, 1-7 Sacramento Kings. Nik Stauskas could never shoot 35% in his Sixers career and he'd still be the gift that keeps on giving thanks to the picks and swaps Hinkie got in the deal for him. What an absolute plundering.

Number 4: A potential low lottery pick from the Miami Heat if their age catches up to them and they miss the playoffs.

With all of that ammo headed towards next year, the night of celebration has finally arrived: the NCAA Season Tip Off. The Sixers have enough picks and enough deficits in talent that they should really being paying attention to the entire draft. So here are the prospects playing tonight who you should pay attention to, so you can be just like the Sixers!

Ben Simmons, McNeese State at LSU, ESPNU, 9:00pm*

The early favorite for the first overall pick starts his season against the vaunted superpower of McNeese State. It won't be a terribly strong test for Mr. Simmons, but it will provide an opportunity to watch him do his thing. Simmons put up some pretty awesome lines in pre-season, and if he can maintain similar production as his opponents increase in strength, he'll have a real case to be the top overall pick next spring.

You can also check out Antonio Blakeney, but I don't think he's got a real shot of becoming a quality NBA player.

Brandon Ingram, Siena at Duke, ESPN3 & ESPNU, 7:00pm

Coach K always starts his season off with a soft slate of home games with some difficult neutral-court tourneys sprinkled in, and this year is no exception. Ingram has shot to the top of many draft boards on the strength of his physical tools and some strong projected perimeter skills, but there is small film on him to back up the projections. Krzyzewski has shown an ability to get the most out of his draft prospects in recent years, and Ingram should be no exception to that. It's Ingram's job to take that opportunity and make the most of it.

Skal Labissiere  & Jamal Murray, Albany at Kentucky, SEC Network, 7:00pm

Kentucky's yearly reloading begins in earnest against an Albany team that gave the Wildcats an unexpected challenge last season. Labissiere is currently projected to challenge Simmons for the top overall pick on DraftExpress, and Murray is the top-rated point guard in most mock drafts. This Kentucky backcourt will be an interesting case for Calipari, as he will likely be starting three players who naturally slot in at point guard in Murray, Tyler Ulis, and Isaiah Briscoe. Expect Murray to spend a lot of time playing off-ball, as his shooting ability allows him to be more effective in that role than Briscoe.

Jaylen Brown & Ivan Rabb, Rice at Cal, PAC-12 Network, 11:30pm

Cuonzo Martin's exciting Golden Bear experiment kicks off with a home game against Rice. The optimal lineups will probably utilize Brown's excellent strength and size by playing him at the 4, which should provide ideal space for Brown to exploit. If he truly has the perimeter skills that would merit top consideration, a 4-out scheme should allow him to display that at Cal. Rabb, Tyrone Wallace, and Jabari Bird, meanwhile, are hoping to play themselves into first round picks.

Demetrius Jackson, St. Francis at Notre Dame, ESPNU, 7:30pm

The Sixers' never-ending quest to find a point guard has continued this year, and it's possible that Hinkie will finally see fit to plug that hole in next year's draft. Demetrius Jackson is one of the top floor generals returning to collegiate play this year, and could fill that role for the Sixers in the future. He has spent the last two years sharing point guard duties with now-departed Jerian Grant. It's unclear whether Jackson can handle an increased work load while maintaining his efficiency. His season will be all about proving that he can do that.

Others:

Henry Ellenson plays tonight for Marquette, but won't be on a national channel. Jakob Poeltl and Utah open their season against Southern Utah, and Maryland's third ranked team welcomes Mount St. Mary's to play against Diamond Stone, Melo Trimble, and Jake Layman. Kris Dunn, Providence's all-pass, all-the-time point guard is off tonight, but opens his season tomorrow against Harvard.