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Welcome to NBA University, hundreds of miles from Indianapolis, nestled in the foothills of Whatifville.
After three weeks of intense simulations and heated discussion, NBA U is about to crown its first 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, 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 here to 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 16 programs. We then seeded the schools based on a power ranking system.
Now two schools remain: Michigan State and Duke.
Whatifsports.com used its free college basketball simulation technology to simulate NBA Univeristy's championship game 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 University Championship
|1) Michigan State||53.2||103.7||Simulate Game|
For as unpredictable as this year’s NCAA tournament has been, the inaugural NBA University tournament has been the opposite.
The Big Dance has seen multiple double-digit seeds advance to the second weekend. Two 5-seeds advanced to play each other in the Final Four for just the second time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams.
Magic Johnson recording a triple-double and chalk winners would end up being locks in this tournament.
No. 1 Michigan State used triple-doubles by Johnson in every round, beating Arizona, Kentucky and North Carolina on its way to the title game.
No. 2 Duke had to get by Kansas in the opening round, then took out Syracuse and UCLA in a path that wasn’t quite as dominating.
The Blue Devils and Spartans, two of the NCAA Final Four's featured teams foucsed on their rich tradition in the NBA U championship game.
The only questions were: Would the top seed continue to prevail? And would Johnson continue his dominance with another triple-double?
Only one of those questions is answered with a yes.
The championship game certainly lived up to its billing as the top two seeds clashed in the closest and most thrilling game of the entire tournament.
Duke and Michigan State were separated by just two points at the end of the third quarter, but it was the underdog Blue Devils who started pulling away in the early part of the fourth. Duke led by eight points with just over three minutes left in the game -- a margin that looked insurmountable after Grant Hill buried a fadeaway jump shot.
But the Spartans weren’t about to lie down. Morris Peterson sparked the surge. Elton Brand committed a inexcusable foul, hitting Peterson on a 3-point try.
Peterson made two of the three free throws, then stole the ball on Duke’s ensuing possession and capped off a fast-break with a slam dunk at the other end, quickly cutting Duke's lead in half.
Moments later, with the Blue Devils clinging to a six point lead, they committed another incomprehensible foul on a Jason Richardson 3-pointer. Carlos Boozer was the guilty party and Richardson sank the charity toss to make it a one-possession game.
Michigan State's hot free throw shooting continued as Mo' Pete tied the game at the line with just over two minutes remaining. Then Magic - who else? - gave Sparty the lead for good with a pull-up jay on the next possession.
Johnson came up just three rebounds shy of another triple-double for the Spartans, who had six players in double-figures.
Mike Dunleavy had his best game of the tournament with a game-high 25 points, but all of that was outdone by Duke’s costly fouls in the game’s final minutes.
Michigan State has made a strong case for graduating the most elite NBA players of any college basketball program.
After 1,000 more simulations, the Spartans beat the Blue Devils 53.2% of the time by an average margin of just 0.4 points per game.
It was certainly close, but in a NCAA tournament bogged down by upsets, the top dog had its day in the first 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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