NCAA Jam: Tournament Edition

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So far this week, there have been a number of Sweet 16 previews discussing this week’s NCAA Tournament games and frankly, it’s exhausting.  People are reseeding the remaining teams and doing region-by-region breakdowns but NOBODY is writing the really important preview: How would the remaining Sweet 16 teams look as NBA Jam squads and who has the advantage?  You were all wondering the same thing, don’t lie.

If you aren’t familiar with the NBA Jam video game, get out.  Seriously.  Move your mouse cursor over that big red ‘X’ in the corner and close the browser, go to your room, and think about the people you’ve disappointed in your life. Loser.

If it’s been a while, here’s a refresher:

The criteria for selecting the two players for each team was simple: a ball handler and a dunker are preferred, and teams that feature two star guards were adjusted to have a big man if necessary.  In order to not hurt anyone’s feelings, there’s a bench for each team with two players to sub before the game or at halftime, per NBA Jam rules.  Oh how I wish this was a real video game.  And don’t tell me about College Slam. That game was an abomination.

And now, the NCAA Jam Tournament Edition’s Sweet 16 matchups:

Midwest Region

#1 Louisville vs. #12 Oregon   

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Louisville – Russ Smith & Gorgui Dieng

Bench: Peyton Siva/Wayne Blackshear

Oregon – Damyean Dotson & E.J. Singler

Bench: Carlos Emery/Arsalan Kazemi

Louisville’s in-your-face defense translates perfectly to the Jam format, where shoving is legal.  If goaltending is off, Oregon doesn’t stand a chance against Dieng, who will camp under the rim and swat everything that comes close.  One positive for the Ducks is that Kazemi has unlimited Turbo.  Winner: Louisville

#2 Duke vs. #3 Michigan State

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Duke – Seth Curry & Mason Plumlee

Bench: Quinn Cook/Ryan Kelly

Michigan State – Keith Appling & Adreian Payne

Bench: Gary Harris/Derrick Nix

Here are two teams that fit the Jam style nicely, with guards who can shoot from deep and big men that will soar 40 feet above the rim.  Adreian Payne was made for this game.  My goodness, look at those benches.  Gary Harris and Quinn Cook have every right to be starters but this is NCAA Jam, not Gus Macker, 2-on-2 only here.  Remember when you picked Mugsy Bogues on the Hornets on the original NBA Jam and even on a fast break he couldn’t dunk it, just lay it in softly?  That is Derrick Nix.  His dunk rating is 0. Winner: Michigan State

West Region

#9 Wichita State vs. #13 La Salle

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Wichita State – Malcolm Armstead & Cleanthony Early

Bench: Ron Baker/Carl Hall

La Salle – Ramon Galloway & Tyreke Duren

Bench: Tyrone Garland/Jerrell Wright

This is a matchup nightmare for La Salle, who has too many guards and not enough enforcers in the paint.  Cleanthony Early sounds like an unlockable mascot, but I assure you, that’s a real person.  I can just hear the guy who does the commentary after a monster dunk by WSU: “SHOCKERRRRRRR! TWO IN THE PINK ONE IN THE STINK!” The game may need a “Mature” rating.  Winner: Wichita State

#2 Ohio State vs. #6 Arizona

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Ohio State – Aaron Craft & Deshaun Thomas

Bench: Lenzelle Smith Jr./Sam Thompson/LaQuinton Ross

Arizona – Mark Lyons & Solomon Hill

Bench: Nick Johnson/Kevin Parrom

Aaron Craft is going to have a heck of a time getting an open look against the Wildcats.  His video game comparison is John Stockton and nobody wants to play as John Stockton.  The Buckeyes go small, which is why I had to include Ross on the bench to even things up a tad.  Deshaun Thomas is a shooter, so his only hope is to catch fire early.  No bulls*** charges called here.  Arizona is bigger, stronger and might pull off that alley-oop where they pass it to each other like four times in the air before dunking. Winner: Arizona

South Region

#1 Kansas vs. #4 Michigan

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Kansas – Ben McLemore & Jeff Whithey

Bench: Travis Releford/Elijah Johnson

Michigan – Trey Burke & Tim Hardaway, Jr.

Bench: Glenn Robinson III/Mitch McGary

Possibly the toughest game to predict.  McLemore and Whithey fit the small/big prototype that works in Jam but you can’t deny the scoring ability from the Wolverines.  Hardaway can catch fire from deep but do consecutive somersaults in the air before dunking.  McGary off the bench will offset Withey and Michigan advances after being “ON FIRE” so much the smoke detectors in your house go off. Winner: Michigan

#3 Florida vs. #15 Florida Gulf Coast

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Florida – Kenny Boyton & Erik Murphy

Bench: Mike Rosario/Patric Young

Florida Gulf Coast – Sherwood Brown & Chase Fieler

Bench: Brett Comer/Eric McKnight/Bernard Thompson

Is there a more perfect team for NCAA Jam than a team nicknamed “Dunk City?” Nah bros.  I’m selecting Florida Gulf Coast as quickly as I used to pick the Seattle Supersonics with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp.  Throw an oop from full-court and I guarantee it’s going in.  Sorry Gators, but in the NCAA Jam world, finesse doesn’t beat “OHMYGODDIDYOUSEETHATBOOMSHAKALAKA!” Winner: Florida Gulf Coast

East Region

#1 Indiana vs. #4 Syracuse

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Indiana – Victor Oladipo & Cody Zeller

Bench: Jordan Hulls/Christian Watford

Syracuse – Michael Carter-Williams & CJ Fair

Bench: James Southerland/Brandon Triche/Baye Keita

When it comes to a 1-2 punch, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller might be the best in college basketball.  It was tough to narrow down the starters for Syracuse.  MCW can’t shoot or dribble all that great.  James Southerland can dunk and shoot and when he’s on fire you might as well give up if he’s on the other team.  And LOL at Triche.  Fair is the easy choice because he can do everything, and makes up for Carter-Williams’ mistakes on the offensive end.  If there’s a glitch that lets me play as two Baye Keitas, Syracuse wins in a walk.  Baye, himself, is a glitch.  There’s no other explanation for him.  Winner: Syracuse

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#2 Miami vs. #3 Marquette

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Miami – Shane Larkin & Kenny Kadji

Bench: Durand Scott/Trey McKinney Jones

Marquette – Vander Blue & Devonte Gardner

Bench: Junior Cadougan/Jamil Wilson

I bet Jim Larranaga lets his Miami team just play NBA Jam at practice instead of sprints.  He seems like a fun guy.  Larkin and Kadji, with Scott off the bench, are capable of beating any team in the field.  Reggie Johnson is out for the rest of the tournament, but it doesn’t matter all that much.  Even video game technology can’t figure out how to get that big boy in the air.  Marquette couldn’t score on the Rookie setting. Winner: Miami

Will the real games play out this way?  Yes.  Yes they will.

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