1st-round NCAA tournament games Pistons’ fans shouldn’t miss

Chet Holmgren #34 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Chet Holmgren #34 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

The season is winding down for the Detroit Pistons, which means fans will have one eye on the lottery odds as well as the NCAA tournament.

The Pistons currently have the third-worst record in the NBA, but just a game separates them from the last-place Rockets and there is just a half game between Detroit and Orlando.

The Pistons are clearly hoping to get a top-3 pick, as there are three players in Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero that seem to be a tier above the rest.

But Detroit could fall as far as 7th if the standings hold up, so they will be evaluating a range of players in the NCAA tournament and G-League.

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Here are some 1st-round NCAA tournament games that Pistons’ fans should monitor, as all have at least one prospect who could be on their radar.

1st-round NCAA tournament games for Pistons’ fans to monitor

Gonzaga (1) vs. Georgia State (16)

Pistons fans will be watching Chet Holmgren and the Gonzaga Bulldogs closely, as he is definitely in the running for a top-3 pick and could end up being the #1 overall selection.

The biggest knocks on Holmgren are his size and that Gonzaga has not played as difficult a schedule as some of the other top teams. They are a #1 seed and hope to put all of that talk to rest with another deep tournament run.

Holmgren probably has the most to gain of any of the top prospects and hopes to build his resume with a strong NCAA tournament.

Boise St. (8) vs. Memphis (9)

Center Jalen Duren is a guy the Pistons could target if they fall outside of the top-5 and he’s been playing well of late. A strong tournament could propel him into the top-5 discussion.

Duke (2) vs. Cal. St. Fullerton (15)

Paolo Banchero must wonder what he needs to do to get into the discussion for the #1 pick, as he has had a similar season as Jabari Smith but the latter seems to be ranked higher on most big boards. Cade Cunningham has expressed his fondness for Banchero, so that and a strong tournament might give him the edge if the Pistons end up in the top-3 of the Draft.

Center Mark Williams of Duke is another guy who could be the Pistons’ radar if they drop.

Purdue (3) vs. Yale (14)

Most people have Jaden Ivey as their consensus 4th pick, and he’s a guy who would be a nice fit with Cade Cunningham. If Ivey drags Purdue to the Final Four you could see him move into the top-3 of the Draft.

Arizona (1) vs. ?

The Wildcats play one of the play-in teams in the first round. Pistons’ fans should keep an eye on Bennedict Mathurin, who has been playing well and could be a nice fit at shooting guard, giving the Pistons one of the biggest backcourts in the league.

Iowa (5) vs. Richmond (12)

The 5/12 games are always fun and it seems like a 12 seed wins at least one of them every year. Keegan Murray of Iowa hopes to stop that and he is another guy who the Pistons will take a long look at if they drop into the 6-7 range. He has a solid all-around game and is one of those do-everything glue guys that every good team needs.

LSU (5) vs. Iowa State (11)

Tari Eason is not a name you hear a lot but the forward has put up some big numbers for LSU this season and is projected to be a top-10 pick on some big boards. I don’t have him that high, but a strong tournament could propel him into that discussion. He’s a strong defensive player who averages 17 points, 6.8 rebounds, two steals and over a block per game.

Wisconsin (3) vs. Colgate (14)

All eyes will be on shooting guard Johnny Davis, who is my pick to be the prospect to blow up in the tournament. He is a smart player who knows how to finish and makes winning plays. I like him to have a huge NCAA tournament and raise his draft status even more. He and Cade would give the Pistons two finishers with very high basketball IQs who like to defend.

Auburn (2) vs. Jacksonville State

Prospective #1 overall pick Jabari Smith hopes to start his tournament run with a big game and show that he is more than just a shooter.

His teammate Walker Kessler is another guy to watch for the Pistons, as he is a big center who averages a whopping 4.5 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. He’s considered a late first-round prospect, so likely won’t fall in the Pistons’ range, but you never know how many picks they will end up with, so he’s one to watch if Detroit makes a trade.

Next. 2022 NBA Mock Draft: Pistons land the #1 pick again. dark