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Marvin Bagley vs. Mohamed Bamba is the matchup NBA scouts have been waiting for

It’s never too early to scout the 2018 NBA draft.

NCAA Basketball: Portland State at Duke Joseph Weiser-USA TODAY Sports

The top-ranked Duke Blue Devils face off against the unranked, yet undefeated Texas Longhorns in the next round of the PK80 Tournament early Friday evening, and that means two of college basketball’s top prospects will go toe-to-toe in a must-see showdown for hoops fans.

Freshmen Marvin Bagley III and Mohamed Bamba will spar on the hardwood at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, and it’s the basketball showdown scouts and fans alike have been waiting for. That’s because two of college’s best big men have wildly different ways of getting the job done.

Bagley's interior scoring ability and athleticism are scary

Through six games at Duke, Bagley is averaging 19 points on 60 percent shooting, 10 rebounds, and a block. His length and strength make him a load to handle on the low block. He is also agile with touch around the basket and can put the ball on the floor.

If you created a big man as your MyPlayer in NBA 2K18, it probably came out something like Marvin Bagley.

Bamba's length is overwhelming

With a 7’9 wingspan, Bamba can literally touch his ceiling. Bamba is averaging a calm 11.3 points and 10 rebounds per game, but his mind-boggling 4.3 blocks per game ranks third in the nation.

Bamba also has a developing post-up game that includes a post-up hook shot and a nice face-up midrange jump shot. He isn’t known to be a scorer first, but he has the ability to create his own shot on the low block. Bamba only had six points in Texas’ Thanksgiving Day win over Butler, but he also had 12 rebounds and four blocks.

That’s where he leaves his mark. Not everything Bamba does shows up in the box score, but his sheer length is able to alter so many shot attempts on defense.

Why is this matchup so important?

Early draft standing. That’s exactly why. The first overall pick in the upcoming draft will collect $6.76 million dollars in the 2018-19 season alone. The second pick has a salary of just a hair over $6 million, with $5.4 million for pick No. 3, $4.8 million for pick four, and $4.4 million for pick five. That’s a lot of cash to fork over just for not outplaying another man at your position.

But even more important than money is the bragging rights, and that’s where the buck stops. Scouts are torn between Bamba and Bagley, according to DraftExpress, and Friday’s matchup could create some early separation between the two big men.

Along with Arizona freshman Deandre Ayton and Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr., there’s a great class of freshmen big men in college hoops. Bamba and Bagley might be the two best.

That’s why Duke vs. Texas should be a good one

Both college big men are projected top-five picks in the 2018 NBA draft, with Bagley slated at No. 4 and Bamba projected at No. 5 in SB Nation’s Mock Draft. And with all eyes on the two bigs, this Longhorns vs. Blue Devils showdown should keep your attention from start to finish.