NCAA Tournament time


With Sunday's loss to the Bucks, the Magic were officially eliminated from Playoff contention. The NBA Draft Lottery will be the first major event of the offseason for the Magic.

As things stand right now, Orlando has the second worst record in the league and therefore the second best chance at gaining the top pick. It does not seem likely Orlando will move up or down, so the team should have about a 20 percent chance to get the top pick.

The 2013 NBA Draft Lottery takes place on May 21, if you want to mark your calendars now.

The NCAA Tournament kicks off this week and, rightly or wrongly, it is the first time many NBA fans get a close look at the top prospects entering the NBA Draft.

Seeing as there are the most games during the first week of the Tournament — and no guarantee the top picks make it past the opening weekend — this is the time to do your NBA Draft cramming, Magic fans.

Throughout the week, there will be several Draft-focused posts on this site in addition to game posts and Magic posts. I have a Q&A planned with Ed Isaacson of NBA Draft Blog and I highly suggest you visit his site to get a very detailed look at the NBA Draft prospects. He should be doing profiles of some of the bigger draft prospects in the coming days.

Also I have set up an official Orlando Magic Daily NCAA Tournament pool on Visit and search for "Orlando Magic Daily". The password is "dwightcoward". If enough people enter, I may dig into my old basketball card collection and offer a team set of Magic basketball cards (probably like 10 cards from a specific year or something like that). We will see how it goes.

For now, set your DVRs and calendars for these games as they feature the top prospects for the NBA Draft:

(1) Kansas vs. (16) Western Kentucky — Friday, 9:50 p.m./TNT

The presumptive No. 1 pick looks to be Ben McLemore of Kansas. However he is far from a runaway. This Tournament could be a chance for him to solidify the top spot.

McLemore has gained comparisons to Ray Allen with his shooting ability and he has put in some big games this year for the Jayhawks in helping them earn the second overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Hilltoppers likely will not be much of a challenge.

The freshman guard is averaging 16.4 points per game and 50.4 percent shooting from the floor. Statistically, he is probably the best of all the players up for the number one pick. But, his weakness is that he is not a runaway star. Could he be a solid player in the league for a long time? Yes. Could he live up to the pressure of being labeled the No. 1 overall pick? That depends on your expectations of him.

He probably is not an All Star, but he could fit well on any team for a very long time.

(5) Oklahoma State vs. (12) Oregon — Thursday, 4:40 p.m./TNT

Many Magic fans are pining for a point guard in this year's draft, hoping to solidify that position. With Jameer Nelson under contract for the next year at least, he could be a great mentor for a young point guard. The best point guard among this year's expected draft class is Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart.

Smart and his Cowboys get a tough matchup in the opener against the Pac-12 champion Ducks in what could be your yearly 12-5 upset.

Smart is a gifted playmaker and has had some very big performances that have caught NBA scouts' eyes. He is big for a point guard which is also something executives like. But Magic fans are wary after the failed Reece Gaines experiment.

The freshman guard averaged 15.4 points per game and it is clear he can score. However his 4.2 assists per game and, more importantly, his 3.3 turnovers per game do not suggest he is a point guard in the truest sense. His nature as a tweener could be an impediment for him as he develops.

(1) Indiana vs. (16) LIU Brooklyn/James Madison — Friday, 4:10 p.m./TBS

Before the season began Cody Zeller was presumed to be one of the top prospects entering this year's Draft. Zeller has underwhelmed some this year with Indiana and has slipped on draft boards. Many do not see him as the star prospect he once was. Some high profile tournament games could help.

The real climber on this Indiana team is Victor Oladipo. In Oladipo, people are seeing a talented defender and perimeter player with lots of opportunity to grow on the offensive end. He really began to assert himself as the season went on. The Hoosiers could make a deep run and strong performances from either of these two could solidify a spot near the top of the draft for them.

(6) UCLA vs. (11) Minnesota — Friday, 9:57 p.m./truTV

Shabazz Muhammad might be one of the more confounding talents in this year's Draft. He probably has the highest ceiling of any player being considered at the top of the Draft but he has not lived up to his billing as the top freshman in the country before the season.

He disappears in big games and against good defenders and his attitude problems — and NCAA investigation — overshadowed his play throughout the season. The question you have to have about him is whether he is simply a better NBA player or whether his hype was too big for his talent.

Surely, NBA scouts would love to see UCLA advance deep into the tournament. But with Kyle Anderson injured and tough draws against Minnesota and potentially Florida, it coudl be a quick look at Muhammad.