By Staff Writer Greg Estabrooks.
One great hypothetical question in sports is whether or not the best college team could beat the worst professional team in any given year.
It is often contended that Alabama’s football team, which are usually dominant and stacked with future NFL players, could beat the Cleveland Browns or another NFL team that is exceptionally bad.
While this year’s Alabama football team may not be able to beat the Browns, as they are actually pretty good for once, they may be able to beat the Raiders or the Cardinals.
Something that isn’t often discussed however, is whether or not a college basketball team could beat an NBA team. This I believe is largely because of the depth and maturity of NBA teams.
Nearly all NBA teams consist of a full squad of genuinely talented and established ball players, while college teams often have holes and shortages of players who are able to play at an NBA level.
However, the Duke Blue Devils this year are phenomenal. Although they recently lost to number 3 ranked Gonzaga 89-87, Duke is still clearly the top dog in college basketball and will be a heavy favorite to win the March Madness tournament.
Current projections have three Duke Blue Devils getting drafted within the first five picks in next year’s NBA draft, which is ridiculous. RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish are all NBA-ready freshmen who are freakishly athletic and look like they will be good professional players.
Although these types of players have disappointed at various times in history once in the pros *cough* Markelle Fultz *cough*. If I were a betting man though, I would say that all three will find some success.
Duke also has a phenomenal supporting cast in Tre Jones and Jack White, who have contributed to the team’s dominance this year in the NCAA.
If it were to happen, which it never will, this team could play competitively with the currently constructed Cleveland Cavaliers, who are a measly 4-14. Since LeBron James left town, the Cavs have been dismal, and are in clear rebuilding mode.
Now I am not saying that it would be easy for Duke to beat Cleveland, as the Cavs have already beaten NBA teams this year, including the 76ers and the Rockets, but I do think that if they played out of their sneakers they could beat them.
Former NBA players Paul Pierce and Jay Williams have suggested that it wouldn’t be crazy to think that Duke could get the best of Cleveland in one game.
Without Kevin Love, who is currently nursing a long-term injury, the Cavs are without any star players, as their only former All-Star is Kyle Korver, who is a shell of his old self. Collin Sexton has been starting at point guard and has shown he is a capable scorer, but he has also been exposed for being an inept passer.
Given one game, if Duke’s starting five were able to play big minutes (38-40 each), they may be able to get the best of the struggling Cavaliers. Mike Krzyzewski is almost unanimously seen as the greatest college basketball coach of all-time, and he has also led Team USA basketball to three gold medals in the Olympics. He might just be able to figure out a way to get it done.
It would certainly be entertaining to watch this happen. Although it won’t, it’s certainly a fun hypothetical to talk about.