As the new school year approaches, we're rewinding things with Back to School Week!
Today, we're looking at which college team made up of current NBA alums would win a single elimination tournament. Is it Duke with a core of Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum, Kentucky with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins or UCLA with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love? We ran an NBA 2K18 simulation (with some help from the game's community for team designs) to find the answer.
Kentucky: John Wall, Devin Booker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins
Duke: Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram, Jabari Parker, Mason Plumlee
Texas: D.J. Augustin, Avery Bradley, Kevin Durant, Myles Turner, Tristan Thompson
UCLA: Russell Westbrook, Zach LaVine, Trevor Ariza, Kevin Love, Kevon Looney
Kansas: Frank Mason, Ben McLemore, Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Morris, Joel Embiid
Florida: Bradley Beal, Dorian Finney-Smith, Chandler Parsons, Al Horford, Joakim Noah
UNC: Raymond Felton, Vince Carter, Marvin Williams, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller
Arizona: T.J. McConnell, Stanley Johnson, Aaron Gordon, Lauri Markkanen, Channing Frye
No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 8 Arizona
Final score: 135-111
Kentucky led by only nine points at the half, but they distanced themselves from Arizona with a Golden State Warriors-like 44 point third quarter. Aaron Gordon finished with a team-high 24 points for Arizona. Devin Booker paved the way for Kentucky, scoring 36 points on 7-for-7 shooting from 3-point range.
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 UNC
Final score: 113-107
A balanced effort from Duke helped take down their state rivals in the opening round. Kyrie Irving led the way with 21 points and six assists, and Brandon Ingram and Jayson Tatum chipped in with 14 points each. Harrison Barnes had a strong showing for UNC with 24 points.
No. 3 Texas vs. No. 6 Florida
Final score: 110-96
Bradley Beal (40 points) and Al Horford (17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) did their best to keep this game interesting. It just wasn't enough. Kevin Durant recorded a double-double with 28 points and 15 rebounds, and the two-time Finals MVP received some help from Avery Bradley (22 points, eight assists) in the backcourt.
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Kansas
Final score: 103-98 (OT)
The closest game of the first round went into overtime, with UCLA escaping with the victory. The dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook (27 points, 10 rebounds, six assists) and Kevin Love (21 points, 12 rebounds, five assists) was too much for Kansas to handle, though Joel Embiid (17 points, 12 rebounds, six assists) came close to punching the Jayhawks' ticket into the second round.
No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 4 UCLA
Final score: 108-92
With Westbrook struggling in this one (13 points on 4-for-12 shooting), Zach LaVine stepped up for UCLA with 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting. Following a quiet showing against Arizona in the first round, DeMarcus Cousins dominated for Kentucky with 25 points and 11 rebounds. His former New Orleans Pelicans teammate Anthony Davis also finished with a double-double (23 points, 12 rebounds).
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 3 Texas
Final score: 115-80
Duke got off to a hot start in the second round, outscoring Texas 32-10 after the first quarter. Texas went cold from deep (6-for-31 from 3-point range), Durant never established a rhythm (17 points on 5-for-19 shooting) and the Longhorns had no answer for Kyrie Irving and Jayston Tatum, who combined for 48 points. As a team, Duke registered 34 assists on 37 made shots.
No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 2 Duke
Final score: 109-108
It's only fitting that the championship went down to the wire, with Kyrie Irving putting on a Finals MVP show to the tune of 21 points and four assists. Irving wasn't alone, though: Rodney Hood and Jayson Tatum combined to score 31 points for the Blue Devils.
On the Kentucky side, Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with 20 points each. John Wall dished out a game-high nine assists.
Long range shooting decided this game. Whereas Kentucky shot 7-for-15 from the perimeter, Duke went 15-for-31.
Do you agree with the outcome? Which team do you think would come out on top in a real tournament?