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Ranking the Top 10 Can't-Miss 2013-14 College Basketball Games for NBA Fans

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterNovember 8, 2013

Ranking the Top 10 Can't-Miss 2013-14 College Basketball Games for NBA Fans

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    If you're an NBA fan, you'll probably want to catch the college games with the most future pros. 

    Thanks to one of the strongest projected fields in recent memory, there are a lot of them—both must-watch games and can't-miss prospects. 

    You might want to get used to watching schools like Kentucky, Kansas and Duke, who each dress a variety of short-term and long-term stars. 

    The following 10 games are just loaded with NBA talent and shouldn't be missed by fans monitoring this elite pool of prospects. 

10. Creighton Bluejays vs. Xavier Musketeers

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    Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

    When: January 12 at Creighton

     

    Featured Prospects

    Semaj Christon, Xavier, 6'3'', PG, Sophomore

    Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'7'', SF, Senior

     

    Why You Should Watch

    Though Xavier and Creighton probably won't make you salivate, you won't want to miss this matchup between a National Player of the Year candidate and a potential lottery point guard. 

    Doug McDermott has averaged over 22 points per game each of the past two years. He's arguably the best offensive player in the country, with a lethal three-point stroke and a polished in-between game. 

    Semaj Christon exploded onto NBA radars last year while averaging 15 points and 4.6 assists. At 6'3'', 190 pounds, scouts love his combination of size, strength and athleticism. He flashed big-time upside as a freshman and now enters his sophomore year as a prospect to keep an eye on. 

    This might not be the sexiest matchup in terms of schools, but a battle between McDermott and Christon absolutely deserves your attention. 

9. Arizona Wildcats vs. Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    When: January 6 at Arizona, February 14 at Arizona State

     

    Featured Prospects

    Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'8'', SF/PF, Freshman

    Jahii Carson, Arizona State, 5'11'', PG, Sophomore

     

    Prospects on the Radar

    Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona, 7'0'', C 

    Branden Ashley, Arizona, 6'8'', SF/PF

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, 6'7'', SF 

    Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State, 7'2'', C

     

    Why You Should Watch

    It's already a fun rivalry, but now it consists of two of the most exciting young prospects in the country.

    Jahii Carson opened eyes last year with his blurry quickness and dynamic playmaking ability. He led the Sun Devils with 18 points and over five assists per game, looking the part of a change-of-pace NBA point guard. 

    Aaron Gordon is Arizona's prized freshman forward and a projected 2014 lottery pick. With Blake Griffin-like athleticism, he's an offensive machine and highlight waiting to happen.

    Arizona also has a slew of prospects looking to break through, most notably Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-footer with soft hands, and whose minutes are expected to increase.

    But any matchup with guys as electrifying as Carson and Gordon is worth keeping tabs on. With both players looking to make statements to NBA teams, and a number of supporting cast members looking to hit radars, Arizona-Arizona State is a must-watch this year. 

8. Syracuse Orange vs. Duke Blue Devils

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Feb 1 at Syracuse, February 22 at Duke

     

    Featured Prospects

    Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8'', SF, Freshman

    Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'7'', SF, Sophomore

     

    Notable Prospects

    Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke, 6'4'', SG

    C.J. Fair, Syracuse, 6'8'', SF

     

    Prospects on the Radar

    Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8'', SF

    Tyler Ennis, Syracuse, 6'2'', PG

     

    Why You Should Watch

    With superstar prospect Jabari Parker in the lineup, Duke should be considered a must-watch whenever it takes the floor. Parker has the ceiling to produce No. 1 overall value once he makes it to the pros. At 6'8'' with a strong 241-pound frame, he's built like a young Carmelo Anthony with a Grant Hill-like scoring repertoire. 

    Syracuse's featured prospect is sophomore Jerami Grant, who flashed enough upside in just 14 minutes per game to generate legitimate NBA buzz. At 6'7'', he's got a ridiculous 7'2'' wingspan and awfully appealing two-way tools. 

    Grant should have the chance to earn some lottery looks this year once his role expands and his touches increase. 

    Duke's Rasheed Suliamon will also be looking to land on first-round radars, using his ball-handling, shot-making and defensive potential as selling points. Syracuse's C.J. Fair might be a Player of the Year candidate this season after taking his offensive game to a whole new level as a junior. 

    You should also look out for Rodney Hood, Duke's sharpshooting wing who sat out last year after transferring over from Mississippi State. Highly touted freshman Tyler Ennis should make some noise for the Orange as well, considering he's expected to play roughly 40 minutes a night as the only true point guard on the team. 

    With this being Syracuse's first year in the ACC, we could all be witnesses to a brand new rivalry. 

7. Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    When: December 28 at Kentucky

     

    Featured Prospects

    Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF, Freshman

    Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8'', PF, Sophomore

     

    Notable Prospects

    James Young, Kentucky, 6'6'', SF

    Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0'', C

    Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', PG

     

    Prospects on the Radar

    Alex Poythress, Kentucky, 6'8'', SF/PF

    Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', SG

    Dakari Johnson, Kentucky, 7'0'', C

    Marcus Lee, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF

    Russ Smith, Louisville, 6'1'', SG

     

    Why You Should Watch

    No school in the country has more NBA talent than Kentucky. And it starts at the top with Julius Randle, a treasure in John's Calipari's ridiculous 2013 recruiting class. 

    He's a man amongst boys out there with imposing strength and a refined offensive game. Randle's competitive edge, relentless motor and inside-outside scoring repertoire have scouts drooling over his potential. 

    After helping Louisville secure a national title last year, Montrezl Harrell returns with a much bigger role waiting for him. Harrell possesses a potent blend of size, strength, athleticism and leaping ability, and offers the Cardinals an easy-bucket target above the rim. 

    For Kentucky, freshman Andrew Harrison will look to follow in the footsteps of previous Calipari-coached point guards and emerge as a can't-miss prospect come June. He's got awesome size and a balanced floor game, and offers NBA starter potential down the road. 

    James Young is a sneaky candidate to crack the lottery barrier with his versatile scoring skill set and smooth, lefty jumper.

    And it's tough to forget about Russ Smith, who's capable of scoring points in bunches for Louisville. 

    The Kentucky-Louisville matchup is an essential watch for any college basketball fan. But this year, it's mandatory for NBA fans as well.

6. North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Duke Blue Devils

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    When: February 12 at North Carolina, March 8 at Duke

     

    Featured Prospects

    Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8'', SF/PF, Freshman

    James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina, 6'9'', SF/PF, Junior

     

    Notable Prospects

    Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke, 6'4'', SG

    P.J. Hairston, North Carolina, 6'6'', SG

     

    Prospects on the Radar

    Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8'', SF

     

    Why You Should Watch

    The Duke-North Carolina rivalry should get a little jolt this year with impact freshman Jabari Parker now in the mix. 

    Parker comes in as one of the top-few prospects in the country with an extremely advanced offensive repertoire. At 6'8'', 241 pounds, Parker can light up the nets from behind the arc or shake in the post with his back to the rim. 

    James Michael McAdoo returns for North Carolina in attempt to revive his deflated draft stock. McAdoo has serious NBA potential given his size, athleticism and versatility, and could still join lottery conversations with a bounce-back junior year. 

    Rasheed Sulaimon and P.J Hairston should make for an awesome matchup on the wing between two guards who can shoot, defend and attack. 

    Rodney Hood missed all of last year after transferring from Mississippi State. He'll be an under-the-radar prospect whose size at the 3, outside touch and smooth overall game could make some waves. 

    Duke-North Carolina is always a dogfight, but with newcomers like Parker and veteran studs in Hairston and McAdoo, the quality of play should be a little bit higher. 

5. Kentucky Wildcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

    When: December 14 at North Carolina

     

    Featured Prospects

    Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF, Freshman

    James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina, 6'9'', SF/PF, Junior

     

    Notable Prospects

    James Young, Kentucky, 6'6'', SF

    Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0'', C

    Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', PG

    P.J. Hairston, North Carolina, 6'6'', SG

     

    Prospects on the Radar

    Alex Poythress, Kentucky, 6'8'', SF/PF

    Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', SG

    Dakari Johnson, Kentucky, 7'0'', C

    Marcus Lee, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF

     

    Why You Should Watch

    Kentucky-North Carolina is certainly a nice non-conference treat for college or NBA fans alike. 

    It's a great chance to see star freshman Julius Randle go head-to-head with veteran forward James Michael McAdoo, two guys who will have NBA eyes on them throughout the year. 

    Randle's ability to complement size and strength with ball-handling and face-up skills give him towering offensive upside. 

    On the other hand, McAdoo's athleticism and versatility is what drives his value as a prospect. He's got tremendous natural ability but struggled to put it together in a disappointing sophomore year. 

    This might be a make-or-break year for McAdoo, who's got lottery potential if he can improve as a shooter, finisher and decision-maker. 

    Kentucky's backcourt duo of Andrew and Aaron Harrison, along with the frontcourt trio of James Young, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress, makes up a loaded rotation filled with NBA-caliber talent. 

    North Carolina's P.J. Hairston's offensive prowess might ultimately make some teams forget (or ignore) his off-the-court issues. With a deadly three-point stroke and two-way potential on the wing, he'll also offer first-round value if he can keep his head on straight. 

    Beween Kentucky's talent and the storylines surrounding a few of North Carolina's key guys, this is a game worth DVRing.

4. Duke Blue Devils vs. Michigan Wolverines

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When: December 3 at Michigan

     

    Featured Prospects

    Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8'', SF/PF, Freshman

    Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6'', SG, Sophomore

    Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6'10'', PF, Sophomore

     

    Notable Prospects

    Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke, 6'4'', SG

     

    Prospects on the Radar

    Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6'6'', SF

     

    Why You Should Watch

    Even with the losses of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan returns with two of the most promising prospects in the country. 

    And Duke has added a star and potential top-two pick in the draft. Jabari Parker has the game and upside to become a franchise player at the pro level, with a refined overall skill set consisting of outside shooting, mid-range scoring and heads-up passing. 

    But he could have his hands full with Glenn Robinson III, an elite wing defender and dynamic open-floor athlete. He showed a considerable amount of promise as a freshman, thanks to a good-looking jumper and elite finishing ability. 

    Mitch McGary made his national introduction during last year's NCAA tournament and will now enter his sophomore year with the microscope zoomed in. At 6'10'', McGary's motor, strength and hands make him a double-double waiting to happen. 

    With McGary and Robinson III looking to crack this year's lottery, and Jabari Parker a likely National Player of the Year contender, there are plenty of big-time prospects worth watching in this one. 

3. Kentucky Wildcats vs. Michigan State Spartans

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    When: November 12—State Farm Champions Classic

     

    Featured Prospects

    Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF, Freshman

    Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4'', SG, Sophomore

     

    Notable Prospects

    James Young, Kentucky, 6'6'', SF

    Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0'', C

    Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', PG

    Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10'', PF

     

    Prospects on the Radar

    Alex Poythress, Kentucky, 6'8'', SF/PF

    Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', SG

    Dakari Johnson, Kentucky, 7'0'', C

    Marcus Lee, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF

    Branden Dawson, Michigan State, 6'6'', SF

     

    Why You Should Watch

    You can't ask for more than the preseason No. 1 team versus the preseason No. 2. But it becomes even more of a must-watch with prospects like Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Gary Harris, James Young and Willie Cauley-Stein. 

    Randle is the big name to watch here given his NBA All-Star upside. Randle's overwhelming offensive game as an inside-outside threat has him involved in top-three overall conversations early on. 

    Willie Cauley-Stein returns as one of the top big-man prospects in the country. At 7'0'', he packs a devastating combination of size, strength, length and athleticism, which he puts to use as a finisher and rim protector. 

    Gary Harris is the guy to keep an eye on for Michigan State, whose 41 percent three-point stroke, defensive potential and offensive slashing ability has NBA guys intrigued. Adreian Payne broke out in the second half of last year, showcasing his monstrous frame, natural talent and improving outside shot at the power-forward position. 

    Kentucky's backcourt consists of the twin Harrison brothers, two guards with pro potential and dynamic playmaking ability. 

    Between the handful of NBA prospects and the quality of both teams, Kentucky-Michigan State is an obvious standout matchup and one we're lucky to get this year. 

2. Kansas Jayhawks vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    When: January 18 at Kansas, March 1 at Oklahoma State

     

    Featured Prospects

    Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8'', SF, Freshman

    Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4'', PG/SG, Sophomore

     

    Notable Prospects

    Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0'', C

    Wayne Selden, Kansas, 6'5'', SG

     

    Prospects on the Radar

    Perry Ellis, Kansas, 6'8'', PF

    Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State, 6'7'', SF

    Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, 6'4'', SG

     

    Why You Should Watch

    "They are saying he is the best college player there is and he has not even played a game yet."

    That's what reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Marcus Smart told USA Today with regard to the hype surrounding Andrew Wiggins. 

    Nice. 

    Smart was a potential No. 1 overall candidate last year but chose to return to school after a disappointing finish in the Big Dance. And now Wiggins is the guy who's stolen his thunder early on. 

    Wiggins is the clear-cut top prospect in the country at this point, with unparalleled athletic ability and one of the highest ceilings in recent memory. Expect Wiggins and Smart to go back and forth this year in the National Player of the Year race.

    And don't miss 7-footer Joel Embiid, Kansas' star center in the making and elite NBA prospect. He's got upside worthy of top-three looks in the draft. 

    Le'Bryan Nash and Markel Brown, two talented wings for the Cowboys, should be in second-round conversations to start the year with room to jump up draft boards. 

    Perry Ellis is Kansas' rock up front and a potential first-round sleeper come June.

    There's a lot of talent in this one, but Wiggins versus Smart could make for two epic Big 12 battles in 2014. 

1. Kansas Jayhawks vs. Duke Blue Devils

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    When: November 12—State Farm Champions Classic

     

    Featured Prospects

    Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8'', SF, Freshman

    Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8'', SF/PF, Freshman

     

    Notable Prospects

    Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0'', C

    Wayne Seldon, Kansas, 6'5'', SG

    Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke, 6'4'', SG

     

    Prospects on the Radar

    Perry Ellis, Kansas, 6'8'', PF

    Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8'', SF

     

    Why You Should Watch

    There might be a few scouts watching this one.

    The State Farm Champions Classic features arguably the top-two prospects in the world in Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.

    It's a dream matchup between kids who've been in the spotlight since they were 15 years old. And now they'll take the same nationally televised court together to start their college careers, with NBA decision-makers ready to pick apart each possession. 

    They have somewhat contrasting styles of play, with Wiggins the more athletic and explosive open-floor weapon, and Parker the more methodical yet polished offensive player.

    While you're focused on Wiggins and Parker, don't lose sight of Joel Embiid, who might also be in the top-three conversation. At 7'0'', Embiid has ridiculous size, length and strength, along with unteachable touch and a promising two-way skill set. 

    We could easily see the top-three picks in the 2014 draft come from these two teams. Toss in freshman scoring guard Wayne Selden, skilled big man Perry Ellis and returning stud Rasheed Sulaimon, and Duke-Kansas becomes the one college game that NBA fans absolutely can't miss. 

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