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March Madness Preview: Top players to watch on Day 1

Stanley Johnson and his Arizona teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are two of the prospects Laker fans should keep their eye on as the NCAA Tournament gets underway

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2014-15 Lakers season D.O.A., it's time to turn our attention to who will be donning the purple and gold for Los Angeles next year. Here's a guide for three games to follow during today's NCAA Tournament action.

1. Arizona vs. Texas Southern 11:10 a.m. PT, TNT

This doesn't figure to be a good game by any means, but it's a good chance to start looking at Stanley Johnson. We have Johnson ranked sixth on our Big Board because of his all-around ability. He can defend and shoot well, and he's the go-to guy for the Wildcats in big moments, even if there don't figure to be any in this matchup. If you're a little underwhelmed by Johnson's athleticism, look no further than Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Hollis-Jefferson fits somewhere in the Michael Kidd-Gilchrist mold - he's a stud athlete who can defend 1 through 4, but his jump shot is ugly. He could fall into the range of the first-rounder Houston owes L.A.

2. VCU vs. Ohio State 1:40 p.m. PT, TNT

Right after Arizona finishes, check out the fourth-ranked player on our Big Board: DeAngelo Russell. Russell is arguably the best point guard in the NCAA, and he and the Buckeyes will be facing VCU's Havoc, one of the most unique defenses in the country. Russell should have his way with the Rams' press and be able to show off his slick passing. Either way, this figures to be an entertaining matchup no matter the victor.

3. Kentucky vs. Hampton 6:40 p.m. PT, CBS

Karl-Anthony Towns! Need any more incentive?

Beyond Towns, Kentucky is still littered with NBA talent, from Devin Booker to Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson, and even the Harrison twins. Tune into this one for 20 minutes to catch some highlights, and then move on to the Lakers vs. the Jazz.

Honorable Mention: North Carolina vs. Harvard 4:20 p.m. PT, TNT

There's no one of note to watch closely in this game, but it's the only matchup that pits the alma maters of current Lakers against each other! Watch Jeremy Lin's Harvard take on Wayne Ellington, Ed Davis, and Mitch Kupchak's Tar Heels, or at least make sure to check out these Twitter feeds during the game: @EdDavis32, @WayneElli22, and @JLin7. Could be a rough night for Lin, although I'm sure Carlos Boozer and Ryan Kelly will at least be on his side.