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.
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.
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.
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.