Portland Trail Blazers March Madness first round viewing guide: Friday, March 18
12:15 PM – (10) Loyola Chicago vs (7) Ohio State
Like Agbaji, E.J. Liddell returned to school following a poor draft projection last year. Both players clearly made the right choice as they both figure to be selected in the lottery in 2022. Liddell has grown his game significantly in his junior year and will continue his All-American campaign against the Ramblers, Sister Jean, and maybe even God himself.
12:40 PM – (15) Jacksonville State vs (2) Auburn
Jabari Smith might be the most NBA-ready talent entering the draft this year and will look to establish himself as the consensus number one pick throughout the Big Dance. His combination of size, two-way play, and perimeter skills make him a tantalizing prospect with a high floor. Throughout this tournament, he has a great opportunity to showcase his ceiling as well.
Walker Kessler, the best true big outside of Jalen Duren, will also be trying to raise his draft stock throughout the Dance.
2:00 PM – (14) Yale vs (3) Purdue
Jaden Ivey has been the top guard in a college season headlined by forwards and will try to hold off the likes of TyTy Washington, Shaedon Sharpe, and Dyson Daniels by continuing his impressive sophomore year through March.
4:15 PM – (11) Rutgers/Notre Dame vs (6) Alabama
Depending on who comes out on top between Rutgers and Notre Dame, this matchup could have two lottery talents going head to head. Regardless of who the Crimson Tide draw, this will be an important showing for Alabama’s JD Davison who may be the tournament’s best passer and defender at the guard position.
7:10 PM – (15) Cal State Fullerton vs (2) Duke
The Blue Devils have been a little underwhelming considering the amount of sheer talent they have up and down the roster. Between Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, Trevor Keels, Mark Williams, and Wendell Moore Jr., Duke figures to have at least three players get drafted in the first round. They’ll continue to jostle with each other which may explain some of their head-scratching losses this year.
Both Banchero and Griffin have great odds to be Trail Blazers next season so tune into Duke as much as you can between now and the draft.
7:20 PM – (11) Iowa State vs (6) LSU
Tari Eason has been a big name among the Portland faithful and for good reason. He projects to be a combo forward in the NBA, with the physicality and athleticism to match. His size and strength make him a probable contributor from day one, and his budding perimeter skills give him one of the draft’s highest ceilings.
7:27 PM – (16) Wright State/Bryant vs (1) Arizona
Bennedict Mathurin and Tari Eason make up the next tier of forwards after the elite grouping of Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith, and then Keegan Murray who’s in the second-ranking on his own.
While Eason can easily play both the three and four spots, Mathurin’s game is much more reliant on his effectiveness from the perimeter. We’ll see if he can hit a hot streak at the perfect time to raise his draft stock.
9:50 PM – (14) Colgate vs (3) Wisconsin
Johnny Davis may be one of the best two-way guards in the country and shoulders a lot of burden on both ends of the court for the Badgers. We’ll see if he can continue to be a singular force for Wisconsin and how far he can lead them in the tourney.