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Taking the NBA Back to School

Sixteen top NCAA basketball programs go head-to-head
By Eric Schmoldt and Ryan Fowler - WhatIfSports.com
March 15, 2010
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Welcome to NBA University, where our enrollment is always on the rise.

Three weeks from today the NCAA will crown its 72nd national basketball champion.

Throughout the past two decades dozens of programs have witnessed their finest athletes graduate to the NBA. Whatifsports.com wanted to know which of those colleges and universities produced the best professional basketball players of the last 20 years.

To get the discussion started, we narrowed the field. Whatifsports.com only selected NBA players who have stepped on the court sometime between 1990 and 2009. We took the players' best season over the course of the last twenty years and placed them on their corresponding All-University team. Click hereto view the master roster list for all 16 programs participating in the tournament.

After sifting through dozens of eligible schools and their contributions to the NBA, Whatifsports.com settled on these top 16 programs. We then seeded the schools based on a power ranking system.

Over the next three weeks, Whatifsports.com will use its free college basketball simulation technology to play-out NBA University's Sweet Sixteen.

Each game was simulated 1,001 times. The Whatifsports.com super-computers generated each team's winning percentage and average score in addition to example box scores you can view for yourself.

nba BRACKET

Round 1 Results

Spartans emblem vs Wildcats emblem

NBA University - Michigan State vs Arizona
MatchupWin%Avg Score 
16) Arizona 14.697.6Boxscore
1) Michigan State 85.4111.0Simulate Game
magic johnson

In a tournament chock full of mostly NBA superstars of today, Magic Johnson made sure the world wasn't forgetting about some of the college stars of yesteryear.

Johnson posted the tournament's first triple-double and the Michigan State Spartans outscored Arizona by 15 in the second quarter to race away with a first-round victory.

Johnson, one of the oldest players in the tournament, scored 15 points, dished out 12 assists and grabbed 11 rebounds despite the fact that the Spartans spent most of the second half coasting toward the quarterfinals.

Every single one of Michigan State's starters scored in double figures and the team shot 50 percent from the floor, mostly thanks to a monster second quarter in which it went 15-for-27 from the field, to put the Wildcats in a such a hole no size shovel could save them.

Gilbert Arenas led the Wildcats, making six of his nine shots for 14 points off the bench, but the rest of the Arizona left their ammunition at home.



Wilcats emblem vs Deamon Deacons emblem

NBA University - Kentucky vs Wake Forest
MatchupWin%Avg Score 
9) Wake Forest 42.1100.0Boxscore
8) Kentucky 57.9103.7Simulate Game

Tim Duncan and Josh Howard combined for the strongest offensive output by two teammates, but it wasn't enough in the closest game of the opening round.

Duncan, Howard and Chris Paul could beat any three players from Kentucky in a game of three-on-three. If only this were a 3-on-3 tournament. The Wildcats' bench was simply too deep and jumped on top way too early.

Nine different Kentucky players scored in the first quarter as the Wildcats raced out to a lead that had Ashley Judd up and out of her seat.

She wasn't available for comment but hopefully she didn't leave at halftime when her Cats were up 18 points and looked like they'd set the cruise control all the way to the quarterfinals.

Instead, Duncan and Howard, who combined for 58 points and 20 rebounds, led the Demon Deacons back and Danny Young's 3-ball pulled Wake within one possession with just seven seconds left.

But Antoine Walker buried a free throw and it was enough to send the Wildcats through to a quarterfinal matchup with Michigan State.

Tar Heels emblem vs Fighting Illini emblem

NBA University - North Carolina vs Illinois
MatchupWin%Avg Score 
13) Illinois 17.2101.9Boxscore
4) North Carolina 82.8115.8Simulate Game

Whatever Dean Smith had to say at halftime worked.

Michael Jordan

The honorary coach (a fitting choice for this tournament) delivered a locker room speech for the ages and Michael Jordan and North Carolina turned a halftime deficit into a second-half rout against Illinois.

Brian Cook scored most of his 15 points in the first half, leading the Illini to a four-point lead at the break and sending North Carolina's locker room into a frenzy.

The Tar Heels, paced by James Worthy, Michael Jordan and one of the deepest lineups in the field, quickly shook off that deficit and then scored 43 points in the final 12 minutes to put Illinois away.

Illinois died by the 3, making just 4 of 17 attempts from beyond the arc, while North Carolina didn't tempt their fate from downtown much at all, taking just six deep shots the entire game as the Tar Heels began their quest to prove their college-to-pro dominance.

"You don't need a website for that!" said former Tar Heel Sean May, who didn't see action against the Illini. "You already know!! It's UNC. No question!"

Then again, if we didn't think we needed the site to prove a true champion, we wouldn't be doing this at all.

And if there was no question, the Tar Heels probably wouldn't have needed a second-half comeback to get out of the first round.

Hoyas emblem vs Yellow Yackets emblem

NBA University - Georgetown vs Georgia Tech
MatchupWin%Avg Score 
12) Georgia Tech 30.1103.1Boxscore
5) Georgetown 69.9108.4Simulate Game

Are Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury still playing or has their time passed them by? More importantly, do they have a new shoe, preferably one that doesn't wreak havoc on the ankles this time?

Georgetown's Iverson and Georgia Tech's Marbury tangled in a first-round battle of teams that sound like they're much closer to each other than they actually are.

In the end, it was one of the NBA superstars of today locking horns with one of the eldest starting lineups in the entire field.

Old man strength won out.

Iverson had 24 points and 14 assists, Sleepy Floyd came up one assist shy of a triple-double and Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing gave the Hoyas four different players with a double-double as they stomped out the Yellow Jackets.

Chris Bosh had 26 points and 16 boards for Georgia Tech and Marbury added 18 points and eight rebounds. Though Stephon only played 30 minutes. Perhaps his Starburys betrayed his feet and sent him the training room with a bad ankle.

Bruins emblem vs Longhorns emblem

NBA University - UCLA vs Texas
MatchupWin%Avg Score 
14) Texas 16.8101.8Boxscore
3) UCLA 83.2114.9Simulate Game
Kevin Durant

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute didn't play a minute, but that didn't stop him from weighing in on who he thought had the best college program in the tournament.

"UCLA," the former Bruins player said in a simple Tweet.

So far, so right.

Kevin Durant, T.J. Ford and Texas buried 12 3-pointers, but turned the ball over 15 times and were outrebounded by 12 as one of college basketball's most legendary programs moved on.

The Longhorns had a five-point lead at halftime, but it was all Bruins in the third quarter. A pre-21st century baller came through with big times play down the stretch.

Don Maclean scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as UCLA outscored Texas 40-24 in the third quarter on its way to the quarterfinals.

There, the Bruins will face Connecticut and perhaps Mbah a Moute back-up his Twitter taunt with some action on the court.

Huskies emblem vs Gators emblem

NBA University - UCONN vs Florida
MatchupWin%Avg Score 
11) Florida 41.6101.6Boxscore
6) UCONN 58.4104.7Simulate Game

The Florida Gators could win a bracket full of teams with their best players over a two-to-five year span.

Connecticut has constructed a team full of talent from the past 20, thank you very much.

"I think our longevity in the pros speaks for itself," former Connecticut player Donyell Marshall said via Twitter. "We are in the top three total the past couple years and we stick in the NBA for years."

That longevity couldn't have paid off in a bigger way than in the Huskies' first-round victory over the Gators.

In what is quickly becoming a trend in the NBA University tourney, UConn used a fourth-quarter surge to put away Florida as Ben Gordon caught fire late, hitting four 3-pointers and scoring most of his game-high 28 points down the stretch.

Emeka Okafor had 10 points and 14 rebounds and the Huskies hit 20 of 22 free throws to put the game away at the line.

Florida had six players in double figures and received double-doubles from Jason Williams, David Lee and Al Horford. But the Gators, a team consisting of mostly players from 2007-2009, couldn't hang on to pull off the upset.

Orange emblem vs Wolverines emblem

NBA University - Syracuse vs Michigan
MatchupWin%Avg Score 
10) Michigan 28.6101.7Boxscore
7) Syracuse 71.4108.1Simulate Game
cHRIS WEBBER

Members of the Fab Five met up with the Orange, or Orangemen depending on what player you ask.

Michigan starters Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard, might have done the best job of any team combining college and, ahem, professional talents early in their career, but the Wolverines couldn't get the skills to equate to wins in this tournament. Big Blue falls in a close game to 'Cuse.

Syracuse needed a big fourth-quarter comeback, but outscored Michigan 30-19 in the final 20 minutes. Thanks to 29 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists from Carmelo Anthony the Orange advance to take on Duke in the quarterfinals.

Anthony was the only Orange player to hit a 3-pointer, but was on the receiving end of most of Sherman Douglas' 17 assists.

Jamal Crawford, with 23 points, 13 assists and six rebounds and Webber, with 12 points and 10 rebounds, led the Wolverines.


Blue Devils emblem vs Jayhawks emblem

NBA University - Duke vs Kansas
MatchupWin%Avg Score 
15) Kansas 22.897.6Boxscore
2) Duke 77.2106.6Simulate Game

If ever a 15-seed were to upset a 2-seed, it seemed like Kansas could bounce Duke quickly from the tournament. If the Jayhawks could've kept the Blue Devils in front of them, this one would've been the biggest upset of the bracket.

Instead, Carlos Boozer and the Blue Devils moved on to the second round at the foul line.

The Jayhawks had 10 blocks, shot better than 40% from beyond the arc and blocked 10 shots, but put Duke on the free throw line 34 times and the Blue Devils converted 25 times, seven more successful free throws than Kansas even had attempts.

The Jayhawks, led by Paul Pierce who posted 26 points and seven rebounds, fought to a tie game at halftime and led by four heading into the final 12 minutes. But Kansas had just three other players with 10 points and couldn't seem to keep Duke off the line down the stretch.

Duke scored more than one-third of its points in the final quarter to find its way into the second round.

Boozer led all scorers with 28 points and added a game-high 15 rebounds. Elton Brand also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards and the Cameron Crazies can thank their lucky stars that their bracket isn't busted.

Round 1 Recap

Cinderella was absent in Round 1 of Whatifsports.com's NBA University Tournament. All the higher seeds advanced to the quarterfinals. Jordan's Tar Heels are on a collision course with Magic's Spartans in the semi-finals. UCLA is looking to prove they can win without the fire power they possessed during their 88-game winning streak.

We will announce the winners of the quarterfinals next Monday, March 22nd. Then on Monday, March 29th the semi-final results will be announced. Finally, on April 5th on the same night as the 2010 NCAA Basketball Championship, NBA University will also crown its collegiate powerhouse of the past 20 years.

Make sure to check back Monday March 22nd for Elite Eight Results of Whatifsports.com's NBA University Tournament.

Agree, disagree or have your own NBA University candidates in mind? Shoot us an email at BtB@whatifsports.com!

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