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2015 NCAA Tournament: Choosing Your Rooting Interests

Which teams you should root for on Thursday and Friday, for draft purposes, of course.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday kicks off this year's 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament, and you should be watching. Not only does it provide for a handful of super entertaining games throughout the day on multiple cable channels, but you have the opportunity to watch multiple future Sixers.

For those who love college basketball, we imagine you'll watch as many games as humanly possible. For those who don't, we've got you taken care of. We've highlighted who to watch for the first day of the tournament, as well as who to root for if you have no vested interest. All numbers in parenthesis are each player's ranking in's Top 100.

#1 Kentucky vs. #16 Hampton (9:40 p.m. on CBS)

Players to watch: Karl-Anthony Towns (2nd), Willie Cauley-Stein (7th), Devin Booker (15th), Trey Lyles (26th), Dakari Johnson (38th), Andrew Harrison (61st), Tyler Ulis (88th), Aaron Harrison (NR).

Who to root for: Kentucky, obviously. Not only would it kill everyone's bracket if Kentucky lost, but there's so much NBA talent on this team that you don't want their incredible season to end so soon. Karl Towns is arguably the most talented player in the draft who can do basically anything you ask. Cauley-Stein is the best rim protector in the country with the agility of someone half his size. Devin Booker will catch your eye for his pure shooting skills, if he hasn't already.

Outside of Towns, my favorite player on Kentucky is by far Trey Lyles. He's got a budding face up game, and is an excellent rebounder. Definitely pull for Kentucky here.

#8 Cincinnati vs. #9 Purdue (7:10 p.m. on CBS)

Players to watch: A.J. Hammons (57th)

Who to root for: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Root for whoever you desire here. Hammons, a junior center for Purdue, is a nice player but nothing to make a fuss about. A true seven footer, Hammons is a real load on the low block and does a decent job of getting to the line. Expect him to put in work against Cincinnati's mediocre big men.

#6 Butler vs. #11 Texas (2:45 p.m. on CBS)

Players to watch: Myles Turner (11th), Jonathan Holmes (81st), Isaiah Taylor (83rd)

Who to root for: Texas is the only team here with any NBA talent at all, so you'll want to watch more of them. Myles Turner, the freshman big man for the Longhorns, is the guy you definitely want to keep tabs on. He's averaging 10.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, and has some serious range to his offensive game. He's not going to be the most athletic guy on the court, but you'll be surprised by how effective he can be sometimes.

#3 Notre Dame vs. #14 Northeastern (12:15 p.m. on CBS)

Players to watch: Jerian Grant (13th), Demetrius Jackson (43rd)

Who to root for: As nice as it would be to see the fighting Jake Fischer's advance, you're only going to want to watch Jerian Grant and Notre Dame going forward. Grant is an incredible scoring and passing extraordinaire. He'll play a lot of the game off ball, but don't let that fool you, he's a point guard at the NBA level for sure. Jackson, Notre Dame's starting point guard, is quite the scorer himself, and just as shifty as Grant.

#5 Arkansas vs. #12 Wofford (9:50 p.m. on TNT)

Players to watch: Bobby Portis (16th), Michael Qualls (60th)

Who to root for: Arkansas. I imagine most haven't chosen to watch Arkansas this year, and I don't totally blame you. However, you have missed out on the magic of Bobby Portis. One of the more mobile big men, Portis can beat you with a face up jumper or back you down in the post. He's also an incredibly physical rebounder, which may be my favorite attribute about him. I wouldn't expect a ton out of Qualls offensively, other than his tendency to put people on a poster.

#4 North Carolina vs. #13 Harvard (7:20 p.m. on TNT)

Players to watch: Kennedy Meeks (39th), Justin Jackson (47th), Brice Johnson (50th), J.P. Tokoto (55th), Marcus Paige (63rd)

Who to root for: North Carolina, although I don't really think any of the aforementioned players turn out to be anything at the NBA level. They should beat up on Harvard, but none of these guys will do anything spectacular.

#6 Xavier vs. #11 Ole Miss (4:10 p.m. on TBS)

Players to watch: Stefan Moody (NR)

Who to root for: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. If you've got a third cousin or something with allegiance to either one of these schools, then feel free to root for them. Neither team really has guys on NBA radars. For a fun factor, Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody is a gunner in every sense of the word.

#3 Baylor vs. #14 Georgia State (1:40 p.m. on TBS)

Players to watch: Georgia State's R.J. Hunter (24th),  Baylor's Ricardo Gathers (80th)

Who to root for: You definitely want Georgia State to pull the upset here, as there's an outside chance Hunter could be a target with the Thunder pick if it conveys. Although his shooting numbers are down this season, he's certainly known around NBA circles as a scorer. Last year he shot 44% from the floor and nearly 40% from beyond the arc. Not many have had the chance to watch Hunter play this year, and a nice tourney run would give fans the chance to get their fill.

#7 VCU vs. #10 Ohio State (4:40 p.m. on TNT)

Players to watch: D'Angelo Russell (4th), Shannon Scott (69th)

Who to root for: The more D'Angelo Russell, the better, so go Buckeyes. I think we've basically talked Russell to death on Liberty Ballers, but he's the real deal. If you've yet to watch him, make sure you do Thursday afternoon.

#2 Arizona vs. #15 Texas Southern (2:10 p.m. on TNT)

Players to watch: Stanley Johnson (5th), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (23rd), Kaleb Tarczewski (68th), Brandon Ashley (100th)

Who to root for: Arizona in a landslide. Stanley Johnson will likely be the top wing player drafted, and has the potential to be an incredible two way player. Hollis-Jefferson is quite the defender himself, and a freak rebounder. Arizona is certainly poised for a deep tournament run, which is great for draft fans.

#1 Villanova vs. #16 Lafayette (6:50 p.m. on TBS)

Players to watch: Daniel Ochefu (NR), JayVaughn Pinkston (NR)

Who to root for: I'll pull for the 16 over 1 upset here as there's no real draft prospects on either team. Ochefu might latch on somewhere as an un-drafted free agents, but I don't expect much out of any of these guys professionally.

#8 NC State vs. #9 LSU (9:20 p.m. on TBS)

Players to watch: Jarell Martin (28th), Jordan Mickey (79th)

Who to root for: I have NC State in my personal bracket, but LSU winning would be best for evaluating the talent they have. Martin's a solid power forward who's putting up 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. He's not really a likely Sixers target, but an NBA player nonetheless.

#5 Utah vs. #12 Stephen F. Austin (7:27 p.m. on truTV)

Players to watch: Jakob Poeltl (20th), Delon Wright (30th)

Who to root for: Definitely Utah. Delon Wright could be a target for the Sixers in the second round if they're still searching for a guard at that point. His ball handling abilities will be on full display Thursday evening. Poeltl is your classic back to the basket center. Not a Sixers target in all likelihood, but a guy whose name you'll hear pop up again around draft time.

#4 Georgetown vs. #13 Eastern Washington (9:57 p.m. on truTV)

Players to watch: Georgetown's Joshua Smith (90th), EWU's Tyler Harvey (NR)

Who to root for: Smith is the only player in this game that seems to be on NBA radars, but I'm pulling for Tyler Harvey and the Eastern Washington Eagles. Harvey is the country's leading scorer, averaging nearly 23 points per game on 47% shooting from the floor.

#6 SMU vs. #11 UCLA (3:10 p.m. on truTV)

Players to watch: UCLA's Kevon Looney (14th), Norman Powell (59th), SMU's Markus Kennedy (NR)

Who to root for: I want as much Kevon Looney as I can feast my eyes on, so we'll look for the Bruins to pull the upset here. Looney's a lanky forward with an insane wingspan, a thirst for rebounding, and a growing post game. He's a likely lottery pick in this upcoming draft.

#3 Iowa State vs. #14 UAB (12:40 p.m on truTV)

Players to watch: Georges Niang (95th), Monte Morris (NR)

Who to root for: Iowa State, I suppose. Niang's a former high school teammate of Nerlens Noel, and pretty effective in a point forward type role for the Cyclones. Expect them to cruise tomorrow.

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