With so much conversation centered around basketball and brackets, we thought it would be an excellent idea to carry the format to the NBA.
But you know we couldn't just keep it simple.
Ever wondered which school has produced the best current crop of talent in the NBA? Sure you have. The Dukes, North Carolinas and Kentuckys of the world have a ton of players who spent at least one season playing for them.
In conjunction with that concept, I've constructed rosters made up of the best players from the most well-represented programs in the NBA. This means that superstars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett aren't involved because they came straight out of high school into the NBA.
One basketball angle without LeBron isn't going to kill you.
Once I was done arranging the rosters, there were 20 schools represented in this makeshift tournament. That number doesn't work in a tournament format, so I had to have the schools with the least representation play their way into the field of 16.
The criteria for entry into this tournament was to have at least seven players in the NBA from a specific program.
To fill out the rosters for schools with less than 12 players, the fictional scrubs that make up the classic rosters were added as space fillers. None of them are rated above 60 overall, so they wouldn't really be a major factor.
The schools that were automatically in were as follows: UCLA, Kentucky, Texas, Duke, Kansas, UConn, Florida, UNC, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Arizona, Memphis, Marquette, Washington and LSU.
The schools that had to compete in a mini-tournament to be the 16th seed were: USC, Wake Forest, Ohio State, Georgetown and Louisville.
You may be wondering what NBA teams were used to represent the schools. I tried to match it up according to region and/or jersey color. Here's how it came out with the seeds. (Q stands for qualifier)
Q-USC - L.A. Clippers (Retro) Q-Wake Forest - New Orleans Pelicans
Q-Ohio State - Cleveland Cavaliers Q-Georgetown - Washington Wizards
Q-Louisville - Atlanta Hawks (Retro) 1. UCLA - L.A. Lakers (Retro)
8. UNC - Charlotte Hornets (Retro)
9. Syracuse - New York Knicks
5. Kansas - Denver Nuggets 4. Duke - Charlotte Bobcats
12. Memphis - Memphis Grizzlies 13. Marquette - Milwaukee Bucks
2. Kentucky - Orlando Magic 10. Georgia Tech - Atlanta Hawks (Retro)
15. LSU - Atlanta Hawks (Retro) 7. Florida - Miami Heat
3. Texas - San Antonio Spurs 11. Arizona - Phoenix Suns
14. Washington - Utah Jazz 6. UConn - Boston Celtics
Now that we got that out of the way, let's get to the games.
USC vs. Wake Forest
In the opening qualifying game, the USC Trojans alumni squad led by O.J. Mayo, DeMar DeRozan and Taj Gibson took on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons alumni led by Chris Paul and Tim Duncan.
By name recognition, it sounds like Wake should smoke USC, but the Demon Deacons weren't automatically put into the field of 16 because the roster has as many placeholder players as it does real NBA players.
Would a lack of depth come back to bite them?
You bet it did, hard-nosed defense from Gibson and Nikola Vucevic in the middle helped lead the Trojans passed Wake.
Mayo was on fire from the outside scoring 20 points in the win.
The victory didn't land the Trojans in the field of 16, just yet. They would then have to face the Ohio State Buckeyes alumni, and if victorious, USC would go on to face the winner of a clash between Georgetown and Louisville.
The school that emerged victorious from that mini-tournament would be the 16th seed and face UCLA.
USC vs. Ohio State
College teammates, Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden were at home at trying to slow down Mayo and the Trojans. This time, Mayo got a ton of help from DeRozan.
It was a nip and tuck affair heading into the final 10 seconds. Evan Turner buried two free throws to put Ohio State up by three points. Then, DeRozan did this:
The clutch three from D Squared sent the game into overtime.
But he wasn't done. With his team trailing by one in the waning seconds of overtime, DeRozan flashes the clutch gene one more time:
The shot falls through with 0.4 seconds remaining and USC survives and moves one game away from the field of 16.
Georgetown vs. Louisville
The Hoyas are known for turning out epic big men, but not many guards aside from Allen Iverson. He's not in the NBA anymore, so Georgetown doesn't have a lot of ball handlers.
Can they overcome a lack of ball handlers with size?
It wasn't happening. A scrappy Louisville team with Peyton Siva at point guard won a defensive struggle over Roy Hibbert and Georgetown, 53-48. Francisco Garcia led Louisville with 14 points.
The win propelled the Cards into a game with USC. The winner will face UCLA in the first round of the field of 16.
USC vs. Louisville
If you were expecting a close simulation, I'm sorry to disappoint you. In the first real blowout of the tournament, USC throttled Louisville 68-50. Mayo scored 14 points and dished out seven assists to lead USC into the field of 16. Now things are going to get really good.
1. UCLA vs. 16. USC
The Trojans took on their in-state and Pac-12 rivals in this one. In case you're wondering why the Bruins are the No. 1 seed, think about this alumni roster: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Darren Collison, Trevor Ariza, Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes and more.
Because of Collison's presence, Westbrook gets a chance to play his more natural position of 2-guard. In this highly-anticipated matchup, Westbrook would not disappoint. He led all scorers with 22 and Ariza added 17. The Bruins ended the Trojans Cinderella run with a 68-58 win. Check out this finish from Russ:
8. UNC vs. 9. Syracuse
The No. 8 vs. No. 9 is often one of the closest of the entire NCAA tournament. That wasn't the case in this one. Vince Carter's sharp shooting led the alumni Tar Heels to a 60-51 win.
It wasn't a complete blowout, but the game wasn't as close as the score would indicate.
Carter had 14 points and his team drained 6-of-11 three pointers to down Carmelo Anthony and the alumni Syracuse Orange.
No. 5 Kansas vs. No. 12 Memphis
No one was hollering at Mario Chalmers in this one. The former Kansas Jayhawks guard had an excellent day shooting the ball.
He also played good defense on Tyreke Evans to help limit the alumni Memphis Tigers. The game came down to the wire, but a late turnover cost Memphis the game. Kansas won it 57-55 to move on.
No. 4 Duke vs. No. 13 Marquette
Kyrie Irving out-dueled Dwyane Wade in this one. His 23 points led all scorers. As you can see, he put the ball in the hole in a variety of ways.
The Duke alumni won 64-60, but nine three pointers from Marquette nearly won them the game. Were it not for their long-range marksmanship, the game wouldn't have been this close.
Stay tuned for the next round of March Madness match-ups going live tomorrow.