March Madness 08 Preview: EA Sports' Top 50

EA Sports releases its top 50 college basketball players of all time, and we've got reactions.

What's old is always new in college basketball, a sport that has respected and honored its past for decades. That goes for college basketball video games, too. Although classic teams are nothing new for college games, this year's NCAA March Madness 08 from EA Sports is taking a look backward with its ranking of the top 50 college players of all time. Now, any list like this is going to be fertile territory for argument, so after we've given you a chance to check out the list for yourself, GameSpot's Brian Ekberg and Aaron Thomas, along with SportsGamer's Shanker Srinivasan, will give their thoughts on EA's list of the best college basketball players of all time.

Naturally, MJ is number one. But Kevin Durant at number two? Now we've got a problem...

The Top 50 Players (name -- school -- overall rating)

1. Michael Jordan -- North Carolina -- 96
2. Kevin Durant -- Texas -- 94
3. Earvin Johnson -- Michigan State -- 94
4. Clyde Drexler -- Houston -- 92
5. Larry Bird -- Indiana State -- 92
6. Steve Nash -- Santa Clara -- 91
7. Kenny Anderson -- Georgia Tech -- 89
8. Chris Bosh -- Georgia Tech -- 89
9. Richard Hamilton -- Connecticut -- 89
10. Jamal Mashburn -- Kentucky -- 89
11. Jason Terry -- Arizona -- 89
12. Reggie Williams -- Georgetown -- 89
13. Ray Allen -- Connecticut -- 88
14. Carmelo Anthony -- Syracuse -- 88
15. Butch Beard -- Louisville -- 88
16. Travis Best -- Georgia Tech -- 88
17. Mike Bibby -- Arizona -- 88
18. Junior Bridgeman -- Louisville -- 88
19. Caron Butler -- Connecticut -- 88
20. Mike Dunleavy -- Duke -- 88
21. Ben Gordon -- Connecticut -- 88
22. Chris Jackson -- LSU -- 88
23. Kevin Jackson -- California -- 88
24. Jason Kidd -- California -- 88
25. Christian Laettner -- Duke -- 88
26. Randy Livingston -- LSU -- 88
27. Kenyon Martin -- Cincinnati -- 88
28. Rashad McCants -- North Carolina -- 88
29. Laron Profit -- Maryland -- 88
30. Oscar Robertson -- Cincinnati -- 88
31. Jerry Stackhouse -- North Carolina -- 88
32. Charlie Tyra -- Louisville -- 88
33. John Wallace -- Syracuse -- 88
34. Derek Anderson -- Kentucky -- 87
35. Keith Bogans -- Kentucky -- 87
36. Sean Elliott -- Arizona -- 87
37. Brian Evans -- Indiana -- 87
38. Art Heyman -- Duke -- 87
39. Larry Johnson -- UNLV -- 87
40. DeMarr Johnson -- Cincinnati -- 87
41. Pete Maravich -- LSU -- 87
42. Stephon Marbury -- Georgia Tech -- 87
43. Ron Mercer -- Kentucky -- 87
44. Andrew Miller -- Utah -- 87
45. Chris Mills -- Arizona -- 87
46. Joakim Noah -- Florida -- 87
47. Ed O'Bannon -- UCLA -- 87
48. Glen Rice -- Michigan -- 87
49. Cliff Robertson -- Connecticut -- 87
50. Dennis Scott -- Georgia Tech -- 87


Our Take on the List

Brian: First things first, let's talk about Kevin Durant in the number two position. Now, I know KD has got some major marketing juice right now as the cover star of March Madness, but sticking him ahead of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird makes about as much sense as trusting that Greg Oden's knee was going to make it into the regular season. Remind me, guys, did Durant win anything at Texas? Yes, he was a collegiate scoring machine, but compared to a guy like Joakim Noah--who led his team to a national championship, then came back and repeated the feat--Durant just doesn't stack up. Does he deserve a place on the list? Perhaps. Is he the number two? No way. EA should have kicked the marketing guys out of the room when this list was being dreamed up.

Another thing that pops out at me is the preponderance of LSU players on that list, trailing only Kentucky in terms of SEC talent making this list. Chris Jackson (before he changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf), Randy Livingston, "Pistol" Pete Maravich... No doubt about it, the Bayou Bengals really are a hotbed of college talent. That being said, how can you talk about LSU basketball without mentioning Shaquille O'Neal, who tore up the SEC in the early '90s? Could Shaq-Daddy's tenure on the cover of the NBA 2K series have played into things here?

And hey, one more thing, while we're talking about curious absences: Why isn't Auburn's Charles Barkley on this list? I know my Tigers aren't known for their hoops chops, but you've got to give Sir Charles some respect.

No, C-Webb didn't make the top 50. If only he hadn't called that nonexistent timeout.

Aaron: I know this game has the word "madness" in the title, but I didn't think it was in reference to player rankings. Brian already weighed in on the madness behind Kevin Durant's number two ranking, but I had to mention it. That's crazy, yo. There are other things that stuck out to me, both good and bad. I was surprised that Mike Dunleavy was ranked higher than Christian Laettner. People forget what a great college player Laettner was because he didn't exactly set the world on fire in the NBA. If you're good enough to be the only college athlete named to the first Dream Team, I think you deserve to be ranked higher than Mike Dunleavy. While we're talking about Duke, where's Grant Hill? We've got Ed O'Bannon on here, but not Grant Hill? Another notable omission was Allen Iverson. When he wasn't going to jail for throwing chairs in a bowling alley, he was a heck of a player at Georgetown. Don't get me started on why Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor, Ralph Sampson, Len Bias, and David Robinson aren't on the list.

That's not to say this list is all bad. I question Magic and Bird not being two and three, respectively, but you could do worse than having Clyde the Glide in there. Just reading the top 50 has brought back a ton of memories from college tournaments I watched. I remember Larry Johnson and the seemingly unstoppable Running Rebels running headfirst into a Duke team that didn't get the memo that they were supposed to lose by 30 points like they did the year before. Then there was Jason Kidd (still with braces, if I remember correctly) running rampant through the tournament and knocking off the Blue Devils in 1993. And while I think his number 14 ranking is too high, Carmelo Anthony did have one heck of a year in his one year at Syracuse.

Magic is well deserving of his top-five spot on the list.

Shanker: This list is obviously skewed toward current athletes and those who had great NBA careers. Well, sort of. Where is Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)?! His UCLA team lost only two games total in his three-year stint as a Bruin. The guy has never lost a tournament game, and he was tournament MVP all three years. If winning championships carries any weight at all on this list, Kareem needs to be number one, because he won three. Next, David Thompson is not on the list. He led NC State to a 57-1 mark and an NCAA championship in two seasons. How can these two not be on any meaningful list of all-time college greats?

If statistics are the governing factor here, "Pistol" Pete Maravich and Oscar Robertson need to be in the top five. Maravich averaged more than 44 points per game during his three years at LSU. No one even comes close to that mark. Oscar Robertson put up nearly 34 points per game and more than 15 rebounds.

I don't have a problem with MJ topping the list because it's at least understandable. I just want to know what possible benchmark EA is using that could result in Kevin Durant being number two. In what way was his NCAA career even memorable?

NCAA March Madness is scheduled for release in early December. Stay tuned for more coverage on the game in the coming weeks.

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Discussion

222 comments
tylermi
tylermi

one thing i noted is this list is not entirely acurrate. cause when i went and tried to find some of these players on my game they where on there but their ratings where different than on here and that was without me changing them. for example lary bird is only a 91 on my game and mike bibby is an 87 not 88 also jason terry is 88 not 89 and a few others ratings on here are wrong there off by like 1-4 ratings overall. cause stephon marbury is listed as an 87 on here but when i found him on the game his overal was 83. so dont rely entirely on this list, and yes i agree its dumb that kevin durant is number two. also why dont they look back and add wilt chamberlins college team or wait did he play college? lol i dont even know...

fsaxon07
fsaxon07

Who in their right mind would put kevin durant over larry bird, steve nash, clyde drexter and so many other greats? he only played for one year and was great but not elite

diggahb
diggahb

This list is just weird. Were centers allowed to be counted as players? I suppose Chris Bosh and Kenyon Martin might be considered Centers, but are hey really ahead of Alcindor and Shaq as far as being better? Also, how is Steve Nash #6 on this list? How was what he did in college better than anyone else on this list. I understand he played at a mid-major, thats nice, but does that make him better than Oscar Robertson or Pistol Pete in college. I THINK NOT.

Jsaok3
Jsaok3

Agreed. JJ Redick should be somewhere on the top 15. K Durant shouldn't be anywhere but 40-50. He was in college for 1 year and his team didn't even go far in the tourny.

gobigred15
gobigred15

wheres JJ Redick? i guess all the records he broke wasnt good enough

pugkiller
pugkiller

The number 1 guy HAS to be Lew Alcindor, how many other players made the league CHANGE ITS RULES because they were so dominant?

Malec3
Malec3

Danny Manning gets no respect for his NBA Career. Perfectly justified. Danny Manning getting no respect from EA with this list is apalling. He carried his team to a national championship. If Durant did the same I'd put him in the top 10 but while he should be on this best freshman list, he shouldn't be on this one.

xtommygx13
xtommygx13

where is greg oden of buckeyes? adam morrison of zaga?

gtride26
gtride26

Dwayne "Pearl" Washington was the most electrifying basketball player in Syracuse History.... blows Carmelo Anthony away!

gtride26
gtride26

What about PEARL WASHINGTON????

trer24
trer24

"23. Kevin Jackson -- California -- 88" Kevin Jackson? His name is Kevin JOHNSON. They don't even have the names of the players right.

OluDara
OluDara

That list is just disgusting.

funkeodor
funkeodor

Good Lord, how can you not of Glenn Robinson of all players on that list? He after 13 years still holds the ncaa record of highest ppg for a single season at 30.1 (31.8 in the big ten, also a record)? Seriously, what are you smokin' over there at EA, because it must be good. And if it is good, give me a call :-D

dreamcastdre
dreamcastdre

Wow, that is an absolutely atrocious list! How did Andre' (not Andrew) Miller make it up there??? He was solid at Utah but a top 50 college player of all time? Man, hell no.

AZisBack
AZisBack

People have a problem with Jordan at the top of the list but he did win the Naismith award that year. This is very horrible list. Although I'm a huge Arizona Wildcats fan there is no way all those cats should be up there. If they wanted to do it right the best way was to look at the Naismith awards. Here EA I'll give you a link so you can find out more deserving players: http://www.naismithawards.com/awards_naismith_college_player_men.asp

WiiAddict12345
WiiAddict12345

MJ wasn't the man in collage, but hes gotta at least be in the top five, but not number 1 but the stupidest thing is, Kevin Durant 2, thats just crap!

butterlou
butterlou

This list is a disgrace. MJ became THE MAN in the NBA, not at North Carolina. UNC has Tyler Hansbrough now.... I think this list gives props to SOME players collegiately but then they are mixing the PRO career in as well. Where is Grant Hill? Bobby Hurley? Rashad McCants beat out all the other players at UNC? Please. The ACC alone should have more college players on this list. Matter of FACT, (yes fact) the ACC could fill 75% of list out by themselves. Where is Tim Duncan? Sure his pro career has been better but his college years.... There are so many more. Durant as number 2? C'mon. This list is straight BS.

mdnicho2
mdnicho2

This list represents a complete lack of understanding of collegiate basketball, period. Mr. Durant, should not even be considered to be involved in this discussion.

anrke99
anrke99

This is the worst Top 50 ranking I think I've ever seen. Michael should NOT be number 1. Yes, he's the greatest basketball player of all-time, but not the greatest college basketball player of all-time. The top 10 should go: 1. Pete Maravich 2. Lew Alcindor 3. Oscar Robertson 4. Bill Walton 5. Wilt Chamberlain 6. Larry Bird 7. Magic Johnson 8. Michael Jordan 9. Jerry West 10. Bill Russell What's with some of these guys being on here at all? Chris Bosh? Ben Gordon? Caron Butler? Are you kidding me? At the same time, they have some names on there that I must give them credit for. Kenyon Martin may very well be a top 50 college player of all time, and I would have forgotten about him. I do agree that Durant should be on the list, but he should be in the 30's-40's range. No Alcindor, no Walton, and the placements of Oscar Robertson and Pete Maravich are ridiculous.

djsundowner
djsundowner

I think this is a crap top 50. Of course they're gonna finesse as many current players as possible onto the list, but I think they probably couldn't get the licenses to put most of the great centers on there. And ReignMan's right: Jordan was nowhere near the best COLLEGE player... though he's wrong about the Big "O" not being on the list. Wheres Olajuwan? Where's All the good centers, for that matter? This is just bad...

badman11226
badman11226

GOOD JOB EA sports. NIce way to turn your fans against you Dumba$$. But I want to thank you for bringing college hoops 2k8 sales up this year.

ReignMan27
ReignMan27

Don't even pay attention to this list. They left out 2 of the 3 best ever (Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton) and put the other, Pete Maravich, at #41. On the other hand, Michael Jordan is not the best COLLEGE basketball player of all-time. I'd put him around 15th or 20th maybe in terms of what his rating should be. Magic and Bird were obviously great, as was Oscar Robertson who isn't even on this list. The most ridiculous thing is Chris Bosh at number eight. He played one year and did basically nothing but show potential. And Joakim Noah at 46th? Closer to 460th if you ask me. I could go on for about 10 pages about how idiotic this list is, but I won't waste my time. This looks like they just ranked them by name associated with "college basketball" on Google searches or something, but Butch Beard basically eliminates that theory. Whatever, I'm not getting this game anyway. These games suck on 360.

Medjai
Medjai

top 6 (no order) Magic Bird Pistol Pete Jordan Oscar Robinson Kareem there are some good picks on this list that maybe people would have over looked (John Wallace Syracuse) I am not sure if he is top 50 though but he did have a great career... but some obvious omissions. Derek Anderson, Stephon Marbury, Mike Dunleavy, Rashad McCants could all go off the list...replaced by alot of canidates named in the article Clyde Drexler a great college player is on there (a little high) but no Hakeem Olajuwon??

Fingernail
Fingernail

Wow! Have the guys at EA ever WATCHED a college basketball game!? This is the worst "best of..." list I have ever seen. Yes, MJ had an incredible pro career - one of the best ever, but he is not (I repeat) NOT even close to the best college player ever. And the Durant insertion (anywhere on this list, let alone @ #2) in absolutley absurd. I though that EA basketball games sucked due to poor programming and the like... now I realise that not only do thewy make weak b-ball games, they actually know nothing about basketball itself. They need to pull this list quickly if they hope to maintain even a modicum of basketball credibility.

Star67
Star67

Go university of kentucky! Look at all those players! Go Big Blue!

brokol
brokol

Yeah, you suck, i had so much respect for EA sports and now it's all gone down the drain. Thanks for doing the worst top 50 list of all times. Durant number 2, gimme a break. Where's Reddick, Barkley, Shaq, Ewing, Grant Hill for crying out loud. I could go on and on, but i just can't believe you left out Kareem, Bill, Wilt and Walton, that's just blasphemy. People at EA sports need to watch more college ball and stop watching good college players in the NBA. Go tar heels.

Bishop21
Bishop21

Greg Oden played a entire season with one hand and made to the finals. No Chris Webber? This list was created by a bunch of empty suites at EA who wanted to keep your attention away from College 2K8. Kids please ignore this usless article.

firemedic_gamer
firemedic_gamer

Bullcrap list matches EA's recent basketball games! I agree w/ a lot of the players already mentioned. Harold Miner- USC (a collegiate superstar on an average team) Corliss Williamson (Hog stud in their glory days 90's) Ewing Webber JJ Redick (should be on this list, even though I am not a Duke fan; he is the NCAA scoring leader right?) Grant Hill - Duke Adam Morrison - Gonzaga ( a collegiate beast that did it all for his team) Webber - Michagan (despite the infamous timeout) Joakim Noah? Ok player on a great team. Was not the player that carried that team.

gricfunk
gricfunk

This list is complete crap... Mike Dunleavy, are you kidding me. He wan't even the best player at Duke when he was there. I am one of the biggest Duke fans you will meet outside of North Carolina and Mike Dunleavy doesn't even deserve the top 100 greatest of all time. Durant does not deserve number 2 after one year. I might agree if he did this consistently for 2 or 3 years. I don't know who at EA came up with this list, but they need to stick to making video games, and forget about making lists of great players in any sport. Next thing you know, your going to tell me that Josh McRoberts should have been player of the year in college b-ball last year.

GameAficionado
GameAficionado

I will never purchase another MM title after seeing this list. 2K basketball all the way from here on out. Honestly, that list is one of the biggest jokes in sports gaming history.

badman11226
badman11226

Wow this is the worst list i ever seen. No respect for big men.NO SHAQ, NO KAREEM, NO WILT,NO BILL RUSSELL,NO HAKEEM,NO DAVID AND TIM, NO SIR CHARLES, NO EWING, NO RASHEED,NO WEBBER,and the list goes on and on. GOOD JOB EA NICE WAY TO F-UP YOUR SALES. COLLEGE 2K8 FO LIFE. AND WTF durant is doing at number 2 i know he is your cover boy but damn man.... Most of the other players on the list played 3 or 4 years of college man, durant only played 1 yr. Like i said before college 2k8 fo life.

bighou
bighou

This has got to be done on purpose just to give this going to be God awful game some attention. I see that the have us bugging out of our minds because EA or whoever put this list together knows that it is a complete joke! I'm not even going to give it even much more of my time. If EA is serious about this, then they can expect the sales on this game to be terrible. How in the F*** do you not have the twin towers David Robinson and Tim Duncan on this list. There are hundreds more. Hello!! McFly Hello! Danny Manning!! Hello! Allen Iverson! Hello! Grant Hill!! Hello!!! Pat Ewing Hello!!! And ofcourse, a big WTF....You have LaRon Profit over Jaun Dixon!!!!!!!!! That's it , I'm done writing on this Shlt. F***EA Basketball. NBA 2k8 Foreva Bltches!!!!!!!!

IHSA26772
IHSA26772

OMG!!!!! No Patrick Ewing? No Len Bias? No Ralph Sampson? This list just might make me not buy the damn game. They left off about 5 of the most dominate centers of all time. There was a time long before the 3 point line you know. I must be getting old.

IHSA26772
IHSA26772

Where in the heck is Isiah Thomas? Seriously, he won the NC as a true sophomore at the Point position. And the fact you do not have Lew Alcindor on this list makes this list totally invalid. The NCAA created a rule to keep the man from dunking. Someone at EA does not understand the history college basketball.

linkinSOXecho
linkinSOXecho

durant at 2?? what? grant hill being missing is a sin. i also dont understand mccants and HALF of the uconn players. WHERE IS TONY DELK?!?!

brooklynupe1911
brooklynupe1911

Damn a J.J. Reddick. Where in the H*ll is Grant Hill. And if you want to talk about recent college superstars, where is Acie Law IV (Texas A&M). I dare anyone to say he isn't one of the MOST CLUTCH playmakers in NCAA history!!! Check the highlights!!!! Joakim Noah made the list??? (Al Horford was the beast in the blocks on that squad). And how do you pick someone from Cincinnati like Demarr Johnson BEFORE you consider Nick Van Exel?!?! I could go on, but... YOU GET IT!!!

WestCoastRida
WestCoastRida

where is my boy from Duke J.J. Reddick? He's a freakin beast!!! sure he didnt get a championship, but my god, he tore it up with his game. And they show him no love? wow...

PacoL250
PacoL250

@badplus007: As a UConn Alum, I totally agree with you there. GS hit the nail on the head. This list is REALLY skewed towards a lot of current players. It's really messed up. Missing Grant Hill, missing Shaq, etc., and having Durant at number 2 is an insult to EVERYBODY below him. Last I checked, Durant was one and done. Sure he was the unanimous College Player of the Year, but other than that, there's nothing very memorable besides the fact that he was raw NBA talent. Didn't he and Texas get bounced from the Tournament last year...yeah, I thought so. Looks like EA needs to stop failing in regards to March Madness...

jcksoto
jcksoto

Long story short... this list is flawed at best, and the lack of Duke players sickens me. Good think was going to buy 2k8 anyway so it really no big deal

badplus007
badplus007

oh and Caron Butler at #19???!!! Comeon, as far as UCONN is concerned u could put Khaled El-Amin, people forget that he was just as responsible for them winning the '99 championship as Rip Hamilton,and what about Emeka Okafor, he was the leader of that '04 team not Caron Butler.

badplus007
badplus007

alright i'm a diehard Duke fan, but if Mike Dunleavy is on this list you might as well put the rest of the 2001 National Championship Team on the list too. Like Jay Williams, Shane Battier, and Carlos Boozer (maybe not Boozer) but Jay and Shane we're far better players than Dunleavy. But if it came down to them vs. JJ Redick, its got to be JJ. He's the best COLLEGE player in the last 10 years if not longer. He set almost every ACC scoring record, almost all the shooting records and was the all time leader for free throw shooting percentage. He should be at least top 15, only behind Pistol Pete, Bill Walton, Len Bias, Bill Russell, Patrick Ewing, Kareem, Magic, Oscar Robertson and too many others to list. And about Kevin Durant, you might as well put Mike Conley Jr.,and Greg Oden up there too if this is listing freshman impact players of last year who passed up a college education to go play "basketball" in the NBA. I also think some love should be shown to Juan Dixon of Maryland, led that team to the National Championship in 2002, i think. Anyway, this game obviously sucks and should not be purchased in protest of this horrible list, everyone buy 2k8

jcksoto
jcksoto

ok here is my problem... MIKE DUNLEAVY????? and at 20. what about Jason Williams, Grant Hill, oh and J.J. Redick... where are they at?

johnenormus
johnenormus

EA REALY MEST UP THIS TIME YOU GUYS FORGOT SO MANY BETTER PLAY THEN SOME OF THE ONES ON THIS LIST I CALL FOR A RECOUNT AND REVOTE LOL THANK YOU

gozags12
gozags12

*cough* Wilt Chamberlain, JoJo White, Danny Manning. No love for Kansas? Ya guess they didn't have any great players. This list is ok till like #2. come on. Least you could have added Pierce, Hinrich, and Jacque Jones to your List of the top 50 semi-good college players of all time. idiots

ocdog45
ocdog45

why isn't jj redick not on this list but Christian Laettner is

sguidolin
sguidolin

I'm a Georgia Tech fan and there is no way Travis Best is #16 .. no way - no how. And Bosh is a great pro, but is no way that high as a college player.