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2016 NBA Draft: Prospect watch guide for conference tournament week

Preparing for the draft? There's a lot of basketball to watch this week.

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness is upon us. Tournament bids are in the air and there is no shortage of basketball to watch between now and Sunday afternoon. Next Monday you will dutifully fill out your bracket only to see someone who chose teams based on their mascot, school colors, or some other absurd non-sporting related reason win the office pool. Oh what fun!

For NBA fans, this is typically when we are introduced more formally to those prospects who might reverse the fortunes of our woebegone franchises. The New Orleans Pelicans, for the first time since 2013, own their own first round pick. While the lottery did not break for the Pelicans in 2013 Nerlens Noel tumbled down the board thanks to a knee injury and for a brief moment the Crescent City became Block City with Anthony Davis and Noel patrolling the paint.

Three years into the Pelicans rebrand and we are still waiting for the New Orleans Pelicans to introduce a first round pick at their own press conference. The 2013 (Noel) and 2014 (Elfrid Payton) picks were shipped off to the Philadelphia Sixers for Jrue Holiday. The 2015 pick (Sam Dekker) conveyed to the Houston Rockets for Omer Asik. Hopefully the Pelicans organization makes at least one pick in the first round this year that stays with the franchise, although I wouldn't mind trading down for two if the right opportunity presents itself.

Here's a look at the upcoming schedule for nine prospects. I've included my typical eight and added Utah Utes big man Jakob Poeltl to the list as well. There is quite a bit of potential overlap. List below is the complete possible schedule if each player wins every game.

Wednesday, March 9 Thursday, March 10 Friday, March 11 Saturday, March 12 Sunday, March 13
Ben Simmons - LSU 2:30 PM, SECN Noon, ESPN
Brandon Ingram - Duke 1:30 PM, ESPN 1:00 PM, ESPN
Jaylen Brown - Cal 10:30 PM, FS1 10:30 PM, FS1
Jamal Murray - Kentucky 6:00 PM, SECN 2:30 PM, ESPN Noon, ESPN
Kris Dunn - Providence 1:30 PM, FS1 5:30 PM, FS1
Jakob Poeltl - Utah 8:00 PM, PAC-12 10:30 PM, FS1 9:00 PM, FS1
Buddy Hield - Oklahoma 8:00 PM, ESPNU 8:00 PM, ESPN2
Denzel Valentine - Michigan State 5:30 PM, BTN 2:30 PM, CBS 2:00 PM, CBS
Wade Baldwin - Vanderbilt 2:30 PM, SECN

Mucking up things is the Pelicans own schedule. Their game on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Hornets does not conflict but the back-to-back on Friday (Memphis Grizzlies) and Saturday (Milwaukee Bucks) butts right against prime college basketball watching.

Am I recommending you avoid watching a Pelicans game to watch, ahem, college basketball? Yes. Yes, I am.

Initiate rant

Think this franchise should go in a different direction? Make your voice heard. Stop watching. Don't go to the arena. The folks in England have seriously contemplated walking out of stadiums during Premier League matches to protest ticket prices. The absolute easiest way to make sure a sports franchise, which remains a business first, hears your voice is to hit their pocket book. Being mad online but still forking over your money to the organization tells the Pelicans you're obviously not mad enough.

End rant

So there you have it. Plenty of basketball to watch this weekend. Just don't use what you learn to fill out your bracket at work. That information is probably useless.