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How the NCAA’s All-Time Starting 5 Should Have Gone

The NCAA is trying to determine the greatest college basketball starting five of all-time and they’re having fans on Twitter determining the winner by a vote. A fun concept but as you’d imagine it’s turned into a “Which Team Has the Most Fans on Twitter” contest and the Cats have advanced to the title game.

Kentucky will take on the Gators, who narrowly defeated UCLA in the other Final Four match-up. Voting for that game has not yet started, but we’ll be sure to link when it does so you can help UK win this meaningless Twitter poll. It’s something we do best. But it had me thinking- which school’s all-time starting five would actually win this bracket? Could it be Kentucky? The NCAA determined the starting fives, and it seems like most fan bases have one or two issues, UK isn’t excluded.

As much as we love Tayshaun Prince and Tony Delk, do both belong on UK’s all-time starting five? Where is Jamal Mashburn? We could come up with over a hundred different lineups for UK and I’m not here to write about that, let’s just go with the five the NCAA put on UK’s team and go from there. There are also head-scratching rosters for Kansas, UNC, Duke, Louisville and plenty of other schools. The NCAA didn’t do a perfect job but let’s take what we were given.

You can search the NCAA’s @MarchMadness Twitter account to see the full rosters, but it doesn’t seem like they’re listed in one specific place. Due to time constraints we move to the Elite Eight (Dari Nowkhah voice).

East, UNC vs. Indiana: This one stayed true to form in the actual bracket, but it wasn’t easy getting here. I’m not overly impressed with Indiana’s team and think Oklahoma’s team that includes Trae Young, Blake Griffin, Buddy Hield and Wayman Tisdale would give that Hoosiers team all they could handle. I don’t see a realistic threat for UNC. Both Arizona and Maryland have intriguing teams but not enough talent to slow down Michael Jordan.

It holds true one more round as North Carolina beats Indiana to advance to the Final Four and this hypothetical game wouldn’t be close. Victor Oladipo was a great college defender but there’s no chance he could slow down Carter or Jordan. The Tar Heels win by 15+.

Midwest, Kentucky vs. Kansas: Okay, okay. This isn’t a great look. I’ve completed two regions and I have so far replicated the NCAA’s Elite Eight. That will change below, I promise, but I do have different roads for Kansas and Kentucky. I have Kansas beating Georgia Tech, who was blown out by Villanova. The Yellow Jackets have Chris Bosh and Stephon Marbury. Those two players alone are enough to get by Brunson, Hart and Bridges. However, it’s not enough to get by Kansas.

I actually have Louisville beating Ohio State before getting crushed by Kentucky. The Buckeyes received more votes than UofL, but I’m not so sure that game would be close. The NCAA completely whiffed picking Donovan Mitchell on the team, but the other four UofL players are solid. UK would have no issue beating Louisville to face Kansas.

I actually think Kansas 3-5 is just as good as Kentucky if not better, but Frank Mason III and Kirk Hinrich trying to guard Wall and Delk is laughable. If the NCAA did a better job picking Kansas’ two guards the Jayhawks could have advanced. UK wins by 10.

South, Duke vs. UConn: You look at the teams in this region and you’re not blown away by prestige (Duke excluded, maybe UConn in happier times) but these are quietly great teams. This was the toughest region to pick and the overall best region. Strange because usually Duke gets a cakewalk in the NCAA Tournament. Florida will play in the championship game in the real bracket, but I think the Gators are upended by a pesky Cincinnati team. Kenyon Martin would be the best player on the floor and Jason Maxiell would be the perfect player to slow down Horford and Noah. Cincy doesn’t have enough to get by Duke in the Sweet 16.

LSU vs. Texas was really tough to pick. I think whoever won this matchup could make a deep run, although I don’t predict it. I gave LSU the slight nod because college Kevin Durant was good, but not as good as we know him today. He did not take his Longhorns deep into the tournament and we’re going off of how these players were as college athletes. LSU vs. UConn in the Sweet 16 is equally as difficult. Emeka Okafor could help slow down Shaq and I would pay a lot of money to watch Kemba vs. Pistol Pete. UConn wins on a last second Ray Allen three. Also, where was Rudy Gay and Ben Simmons?

I really think Duke’s team is great, but it’s not the best matchup with UConn. I’m not sure one Duke player would have the defensive advantage except at the four position. UConn wins by two.

West, UCLA vs. Georgetown: The Elite Eight matchup between the Hoyas and Bruins would be a blast, but it would be blowout city getting there. No other teams in this region would really have a change against either team. Michigan State is the only other team that makes you think but overall they don’t have the talent or muscle to beat Georgetown. The Spartans do crush Gonzaga and Wake Forest has no issues with Syracuse. I think UCLA comfortably beats Georgetown in the Elite Eight. That fans on Twitter agreed, so not much drama here.


Final Four: UK vs. UNC and UConn vs. UCLA.

UK beats UNC: Smith and Psycho T get abused in this matchup. You’d probably put Worthy on Davis and Hansbrough on DeMarcus Cousins. Worthy could do enough defensively to slow down Davis, but Cousins would use and abuse Hansbrough. Smith wouldn’t have a prayer slowing down John Wall. Prince could do a solid job on Jordan, but you’re not stopping him. Carter and Delk would exchange buckets for the duration of the game. UK wins by six in a tight game.

UConn beats UCLA: An upset! The Huskies defeat UCLA to advance to the championship game. Okafor would only be able to do so much against UCLA’s frontcourt, but the Bruins backcourt would have no chance slowing down UConn’s 1-3. This would be a high scoring but give me the team that has the better scorers. It’s tough to pick against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar but Walker, Allen and RIP would be too much.

Championship, UK vs. UConn: Well, here we are again. The Cats vs. Huskies. This time for all the hypothetical marbles. If you haven’t learned by this point, I love UConn’s guards. All three are great scorers and Kemba could get anywhere he wanted on the floor. I’m high on Okafor. He was the best defender in college basketball when he played and it would be a nightmare matchup for DeMarcus Cousins. Luckily for UK, Davis would erase scoring threat Donyell Marshall and the Huskies would have no one that could guard Tayshaun Prince. Prince and Davis are the difference makers in this game and UK wins by six.

We did it!



Article written by TJ Walker

15 Comments for How the NCAA’s All-Time Starting 5 Should Have Gone

  1. runningunnin.454
    7:41 pm August 16, 2018 Permalink

    This is the dumbest thing the NCAA has ever done, although turning a blind eye to fake classes is close.
    There is no way in hell Florida could beat any number of UCLA line-ups. Alcindor, Walton, Rowe, Wicks; hell, they didn’t even include Walt Hazzard. Eleven titles to Florida’s two; I’ll retire to Bedlam.

    • bigbluebanana
      11:36 pm August 16, 2018 Permalink

      But weren’t the game winners determined by twitter vote?

    • runningunnin.454
      5:19 am August 17, 2018 Permalink

      I guess; so the whole thing was really silly.

    • runningunnin.454
      8:05 am August 17, 2018 Permalink

      The more I think about this, the sillier it gets. If people were honest, it would be 1. UCLA, 2. UK, 3.UNC.
      Florida wouldn’t even be in the top ten; they would be hard pressed to beat an all star team from LSU, Arkansas, Houston, and UNLV.

  2. Bluebloodtoo
    8:58 pm August 16, 2018 Permalink

    Is there anything the NCAA can’t screw up?

  3. bbnZach
    10:17 pm August 16, 2018 Permalink

    Let’s be real here. UCLA would mop the floor with everyone. That frontcourt is too good with KAJ/ Bill Walton. Then you got Westbrook and Reggie miller.

  4. UKWildcatNation
    10:49 pm August 16, 2018 Permalink

    Watching that video just makes me sad. It’s tough knowing that you have the best team in the country and don’t win the National Championship – which I believe is the hardest championship to win in all of sports. Coaching and horrible officiating killed us in 2014-2015 against Wisconsin (should have never left the twins in the game for the last 11 minutes if the game!), but we just didn’t show up against West Virginia. Couldn’t throw it in the ocean, and I’m not talking about 2-20 from 3, we couldn’t even make a layup! We were the best team and would have rolled to the title (beating Duke in the process) had we played to half of our ability against WV

    • CATandMONKEY
      11:14 pm August 16, 2018 Permalink

      Please stop with the tired and incorrect narrative that taking the Twins out would have made the difference against WI. Booker was gettig jobbed the entire time he was on the floor and Tyler did not have anywhere near one of his best games. Deflating the ball and shot clock violations the last 3 min goes to Cal. But the sub pattern did not have the effect that most folks on here continue to mis-remember.

      Agree with your other points

    • UKWildcatNation
      12:52 am August 17, 2018 Permalink

      I definitely agree with you on Cal taking the ball out of the air, which is ALWAYS does (almost cost us the title in ‘12 when Kansas cut it close, but Teague came up with a huge 3 to seal it), but the twins looked dead tired and wear not able to create a shot. I know Booker was getting owned on the defensive end, but he and Tyler could have created SOME SORT OF OFFENSE. But it’s the past. I just am looking forward to this years journey! And for the record, I am not bashing Cal! I am a huge Cal fan. He gets these kids ready for the NBA better than anyone. Coach K could careless as all he wants to do is win championships…playing zone does not improve a players defensive habits, etc. I am not saying Cal does not want to win every game and every championship, for I am just saying that he cares about his players first. I know this drives a lot of fans insane, but who else to you want teaching these young men??

    • Willis Wolf Tattoo
      10:00 am August 17, 2018 Permalink

      Agree with CATandMONKEY on the twins. We lost the game bc of Cal slowing the tempo down, WCS, and Booker yet the Twins always take the blame. We finally got the lead in the 2nd half, Cal slammed on the brakes and the team got cold. WCS clocked two points for the game and he was dominated by Frank the Tank. Booker took 0 threes, only put up 6 points and was embarrassed by Dekker on the defensive end as well.

  5. jonthes
    2:17 am August 17, 2018 Permalink

    I’ve watched UK teams since ’66 and the five should be Davis, Issel, Walker, Ulis and Delk. With Davis, that five would beat any other five, as they were in college. It still is galling that Issel’s great pro career isn’t recognized. He played in Denver so never on TV; great career scoring stats.

  6. Cletis75
    3:00 am August 17, 2018 Permalink

    How in hell is George McInnis not on IU’s top 5?

    • Cletis75
      3:06 am August 17, 2018 Permalink

      McGinnis. He played one season at IU. Led the Big ten in scoring and rebounding that season. Big man averaged 29.9 pts a game.

  7. WV Wildcat
    10:19 am August 17, 2018 Permalink

    Interesting article. One major quibble though: You are insane if you think Kenyon Martin would be the best player on the floor in any game involving his theoretical teammate Oscar Robertson. Dude averaged more than 33 points for his career and was the national player of the year all three years that he played for UC. Martin was great, but Robertson is among the very upper tier of the greatest college players ever.

    12:51 pm August 17, 2018 Permalink

    No way UK is a 2 seed lolz all time winningest program and a 2 seed lolz!