Marching into Madness...

And not madness in the same regard as the chaotic, "senseless folly" that was the Bucks in the fourth quarter against the Heat.

We're talking about March Madness, and we're doing so on this blog because the Bucks made it readily clear (somehow not surprisingly) that they were taking the latter option in the proposed win-win scenario down the stretch; that is, gunning for more ping-pong balls rather than a short playoff appearance against the Celtics. This is not to suggest that the team or players really want to lose, it just looks like that's how things are going to work out.

Anyway, now that Larry Harris is out as the team's GM, who is left to evaluate the draft prospects in the NCAA tournament, which just happens to start today?

We are. And that includes you.

One qualifier is that this list only includes players in the tournament, excluding big-time prospects (and potentially better fits for the Bucks) like Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph, and Nicolas Batum. That said, here's a brief rundown of ten highly regarded prospects, one of which could be appearing at an NBA stadium (read: Bradley Center) near you next fall.

  • Michael Beasley.
    • 6'10", 220, PF, Freshman, Kansas St.
    • Thursday, 6:10 PM CT versus USC.
    • The Bucks have a couple young power forwards in Yi Jianlian and Charlie Villanueva, but at 19, Beasley might already be better than both. He's a dynamic offensive player and isn't slowed by strong competition, as evidenced by his scoring 44, 30, and 39 points a couple weeks ago against Baylor, Kansas, and Texas respectively. The NBA is another challenge altogether, but this kid clearly has skills that will translate favorably.
  • Derrick Rose.
    • 6'3", 205, G, Freshman, Memphis.
    • Friday, 8:55 PM CT versus Texas-Arlington.
    • Rose is a supreme athlete and truly a blur on the court. He runs the point for one of the best teams in the nation but doesn't rack up lots of assists. He has however cut down on the turnovers the plagued him badly early on. He's strong, fast, can get to the basket, and even play defense, but isn't yet a top notch shooter or court general. His potential is sky high though.
  • O.J. Mayo.
    • 6'5", 200, G, Freshman, USC.
    • Thursday, 6:10 PM CT versus Kansas St.
    • We've already started hyping Mayo, who can do a little bit of everything. He's a pretty strong all-around talent for a freshman in college; he can shoot from all over the court including three point range, is sturdy and uses his body well, and plays defense. He turns the ball over (3.3 asssts / 3.6 turnovers) at a troubling rate, but USC does rely on him to do a lot.
  • Jerryd Bayless.
    • 6'3", 199, G, Freshman, Arizona.
    • Thursday, 8:40 PM CT versus West Virginia.
    • Bayless is a fearless and naturally gifted offensive player but is also a point guard who looks to score slightly more than pass at this point. Then again that worked out pretty well for another Arizona guard who wore #0, Gilbert Arenas.
  • Chase Budinger.
    • 6'7", 203, SG/SF, Sophomore, Arizona.
    • Thursday, 8:40 PM CT versus West Virginia.
    • He hasn't progressed a lot from last season, but is a versatile talent, and a good athlete with shooting range. The Bucks could be eyeing small forwards and Budinger is one of the top prospects at the position. Also easily the top volleyball prospect in the projected draft class, if that's what we're going for.
  • Brook Lopez.
    • 7'0", 260, PF/C, Sophomore, Stanford.
    • Thursday, 4:00 PM CT versus Cornell.
    • In the games I've watched Lopez, his footwork in the post struck me as pretty solid for a seven footer. He has a couple go-to moves and even has a little range on his jumper, which makes it seem like his very mediocre 46.7 % shooting percentage should be a lot higher.
  • Eric Gordon.
    • 6'4", 215, G, Freshman, Indiana.
    • Friday, 8:40 PM CT versus Arkansas.
    • The Bucks don't make free throws or three pointers but Gordon does. So even when Gordon isn't hitting from the field very effectively, his points at the line and from beyond the arc often help make up the difference. However, like a lot of guys on this list, he has problems with turnovers, averaging just 2.5 assists but 3.6 turnovers.
  • Kevin Love.
    • 6'10", 271, PF, Freshman, UCLA.
    • Thursday, 8:55 PM CT versus Mississippi Valley St.
    • UCLA is really good, so there should be more than a couple opportunities to watch Love in the tournament. He knows how to use his body in the post and can really shoot. His size is kind of an issue, since at only 6'9" or 6'10" he probably can't afford to carry the extra pounds he does now when he arrives in the NBA.
  • Blake Griffin.
    • 6'10", 243, PF, Freshman, Oklahoma.
    • Friday, 6:10 PM CT versus St. Joe's.
    • Griffin followed his old brother Taylor to OU, but don't expect him to stay too long. While his shooting lacks range and his post game needs refinement, he's only just turned 19 and has the sort of strength and athleticism that should make him a rock-solid NBA PF for a long time. Griffin isn't in Beasley's class skill-wise right now but when the two went head-to-heard in January, Griffin more than held his own with 27 points and 14 boards compared to Beasley's 32 and 11. He isn't a lock to declare for the '08 draft, but he'll be a lottery pick whenever he does decide to take the leap.
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts.
    • 6'7", 200, SG/SF, Junior, Memphis.
    • Friday, 8:55 PM CT versus Texas-Arlington.
    • Douglas-Roberts is the only upperclassman on this list. While Rose is a superior NBA prospect, Douglas-Roberts led the Tigers in scoring with 17.2 points and shot 55.1 % from the field and 44.9 % from outside. Oddly, while his field goal and three point percentages have climbed each year at Memphis, his free throw percentage continues to fall, all the way down to 67.5 % this year.
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