ESPN.com has been running an NCAA All Time Tournament....featuring the rosters of the greatest players at 32 schools [ESPN.com: Page 2 : The Great College Hoops Tourney]. They use ESPN experts Eric Neel and Scoop Jackson [an SBL contributer] to break down each team and each matchup and predict a winner. Then, people can vote online for the winners of each matchup.
The championship game is now upon us....and it is UCLA vs North Carolina.
UCLA brings in a roster of Gail Goodrich, Reggie Miller, Marquez Johnson, Bill Walton and Lew Alcinder....with reserves Baron Davis and Sidney Wicks. North Carolina brings in Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Billy Cunningham, Bob McAdoo...with reserves Walter Davis and Charlie Scott. What's that...8 Hall Of Famers in that game [that's counting Reggie and Michael]??
Scoop Jackson sees the game like this:
"It all came down to this. Right where the argument started. No Long Island Ice Teas this time. This right here is serious business. I call my man, the co-originator of this fantasy, Sir Andre Curry. Had to make it official. Dre's only words: "This is what started the argument, this is what's going to end the argument. Tar Heels, baby. For life!!!" For life opens up with the Tar Heels trailing 10-4 early. With the height difference evident on the inside, and no Brad Daugherty on the roster, the Bruins feed Jabbar like he's been on a Sally Struthers commercial. Sky hook after sky hook. Jordan understands what the greatest player alive was like before he arrived.
With no answer for stopping Cap, Dean Smith takes Phil Ford, who throughout this tournament ran the four corners like a hustler from Chi, and Billy Cunningham out, and replaces them with the two best bench players on all 32 teams. "Charlie, pretend you're at the Rucker. Walter, pretend you're at St. Aug's gym back home." From there, the Heels reel off a 15-2 run that has UCLA shaking like a deep mob. The prodigy (Jordan) causes havoc by scoring 15 in the first half, to go along with the combined 23 Scott and Davis provide off the bench. Halftime score: UNC 59, UCLA 54.
Same script, different half. The Bruins, thanks to Baron Davis and Gail Goodrich, retake the lead and keep them hells on their heels for the first 8 minutes. There is a theory in college basketball that games are won in the first 4 minutes of the second half. Al McGuire says to Billy Packer during the contest, "The Bruins have taken control of this game by winning the most important part of the game."
During a timeout with 4:45 left, down by 5, Michael Jordan lets everyone on his squad have it. His profanity-laced tirade to his teammates makes the song from the University of Miami football team sound like a Will Smith record. Can't print what he says here, but trust me: it changes the game. With 3:36 left, a Bill Walton shot off the glass ties the score at 80. The next trip down, Jordan steals the ball and flushes one with force for Carolina's first lead of the second half. Wooden calls a timeout. He launches into his own tirade. This one worse than Jordan's. Reggie grabs the back of Cap's neck. "I got you," he tells the big fella. Kareem just shakes his head.
Both teams trade buckets. Leads change, scores become untied. At the 0:59 mark, it's Miller who puts a dagger in the Tar Heels' heart. A deep 3 over Jordan, putting UCLA up 2. Phil Ford feeds McAdoo at the top of the key, Mac drops one over Walton's outstretched arm. Game locked. BD shakes free of Ford, the lane is open. As he drives Jordan and Worthy (who's battle with Marques Johnson will be talked about in historic terms afterwards) collapse on him. He sees Reggie open in the corner, but he instead attempts a lob to Jabbar. As soon as the ball leaves his hand, Jordan flicks the pass in the other direction, grabs it, calls timeout. He says nothing during the timeout, neither does coach Smith. Everyone knows. Even UCLA. Final score: North Carolina 105, UCLA 103"
It has been an interesting tournament. Here is what happened so far:
1-UCLA over 32-Marquette
17-Syracuse over 16-Louisville
8-Indiana over 25-Villanova
9-Duke over 24-DePaul
4-Georgetown over 29-Illinois
13-Michigan State over 20-Arizona
5-Kansas over 28-Georgia Tech
21-San Francisco over 12-UNLV
3-LSU over 30 Iowa
19-Cincinnati over 14-Ohio State
6-Houston over 27-Arkansas
11-Kentucky over 22-Providence
2-North Carolinaover 31-Utah
15-UConn over 18-Notre Dame
7-Maryland over 25-Minnesota
10-Michigan over 23-NC State
1-UCLA over 17-Syracuse
8-Indiana over 9-Duke
5-Kansas over 21-San Francisco
4-Georgetown over 13-Michigan State
3-LSU over 19-Cincinnati
6-Houston over 11-Kentucky
10-Michigan over 7-Maryland
2-North Carolina over 15-UConn
1-UCLA over 8-Indiana
4-Georgetown over 5-Kansas
3-LSU over 6-Houston
2-North Carolina over 10-Michigan
1-UCLA over 4-Georgetown
2-North Carolina over 3-LSU