That one exclamation unlocks a total recall of nostalgia from the 1990s. Backboard-shattering dunks by helicopter or somersault. The goal-tending was legal and the elbows were gratuitous. Everyone knew three straight baskets meant another game-changing exclamation was coming: “He’s on fire!”
“NBA Jam” was phenomenal. The 1990s classic video game made arcade 2-on-2 basketball unforgettable for gamers and NBA fans. Yet during those countless hours of gameplay, the hypothetical question would pop up all the time, particularly in March. “Why don’t they have a college version of this?”
Could you imagine playing an all-time game of “NCAA Jam” with college legends from your favorite school? Sporting News made that happen.
How about an all-time 2-on-2 game where you can control Georgetown with Allen Iverson against Syracuse with Carmelo Anthony? Maybe Dick Vitale could be the announcer and combine the catch-phrases: “Razzle dazzle, ba-beeeee!”
We will make an excuse to get Michael Jordan on the game once and for all. Only this time, we paired him with Vince Carter at North Carolina. We would play that game for hours, too. Which team would burn down the nets in “NCAA Jam?”
A Sporting News’ panel launched an investigation to find out.
We used our own bylaws and created a 16-team bracket. Each of those 16 schools had to have at least one national championship, and one of the two players had to be on a national championship team. Then, using the metrics from the video game – remember the only player attributes were speed, 3-pointers, defense and dunks – we came up with a Sweet 16 of two-on-two teams.
DECOURCY: Breaking down our NCAA Jam teams
There were some tough decisions. Some marquee programs did not make the list. We also had some tough calls. Christian Laettner is one of the greatest players in college basketball history, but do you want to use him in “NCAA Jam” over Grant Hill?
‘NCAA Jam’ teams
Here are the 16 two-man teams SN selected for “NCAA Jam”
Imagine trying a triple-windmill dunk with Zion Williamson over Anthony Davis. A new generation can get educated on “Dr. Dunkenstein” and the “Plastic Man.” Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain and Lew Alcindor made this game, too. There is something for every college basketball fan.
MORE: Some super snubs (Shaq/Pistol Pete) from the NCAA Jam field
Choose your ‘NCAA Jam’
This week, Sporting News will have a Twitter poll tournament with the 16 teams. We seeded those 16 pairings, and there are some huge first-round matchups. We teed up that Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry, after all.
Each day, Sporting News will advance the tournament until an ultimate “NCAA Jam” pairing is proclaimed the national champion.