Who Would Win 2019 College Bowls as Basketball Games?


What if the 2019 college football games were played as basketball games during the 2019-20 season? How would these teams stack up and who would win?

Oregon (24-7) vs Wisconsin (21-10)

About the bowl: Oregon beat Wisconsin 28-27 in a very fun 2020 Rose Bowl. QB Justin Herbert ran for 3 touchdowns, including a 30 yard run with 8 minutes to go, to give Oregon the lead for the last time.

About basketball: The bowl win came 9 months after Oregon upset Wisconsin as a #12 seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. After going into halftime tied 25-25, Ducks came out and crushed the Badgers, winning 72-54. Payton Prichard, the 2020 PAC-12 Player of the Year, led Oregon with 19 points and 7 assists in that game. For Wisconsin, their top guys in 2020 D’mitrik Trice, Nate Reuvers, and Brad Davison combined for 21 points, 7 assists, 11 rebounds.

Oregon won 6 of their last 7. Wisconsin won 9 of their last 10 and 8 in a row to end the season as both teams finished first place in their respective conferences.

Prediction: Oregon

Arizona State (20-11) vs Florida State (26-5)

About the bowl: This might be my favorite basketball game on the list, which is ironic considering how dull the Sun Bowl matchup was. In football, this was a battle between 7-5 and 6-6 teams. Arizona State won 20-14, after leading 9-0 at the half. Florida State scored 14 in the third, but Arizona State scored 11 in the fourth to win.

About basketball: In basketball, Florida State was the outright ACC champion, for the first time since joining the conference in 1992. Arizona State finished near the top of the PAC-12 and was expected to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

I love watching ASU’s Remy Martin (19.1 ppg), but Florida State is too good – too deep and well-coached. Devin Vassell, Trent Forrest, MJ Walker, and Patrick Williams all averaged at least 9 ppg and would just be too much for Sun Devils.

Prediction: Florida State

Florida (19-12) vs Virginia (23-7)

About the bowl: The 2019 Orange Bowl was meh. Virginia finished 9-4 and in my opinion didn’t deserve the spot, especially after getting blasted 62-17 in the ACC Championship. They were more than respectable in the loss to Florida, losing 36-28, but they did score their last touchdown in the final seconds.

About basketball: The basketball game would be fun. Virginia, coming off a National Championship, spent the first half of the season lingering near the bubble, but won 11 of their last 12 games.

This is a rematch of a second round matchup in 2017, where Florida steamrolled Virginia 65-39.

Prediction: Virginia

Penn St (21-10) vs Memphis (21-10)

About the Bowl: When Penn State played Memphis in the Cotton Bowl, it felt like a lopsided game on paper. Almighty Penn State, the well-known prestigious Big Ten school with tons of history facing a team from the American Athletic Conference, who set a new school record for wins and had never been on this kind of stage before. It was a great game, that Penn State won 52-39. 

On paper in basketball, this also feels a bit lopsided. But incredibly, not the way you would think…

About basketball: Considering Memphis had the #1 recruiting class in the country in 2019 and Penn State hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2011, would you believe that Penn State would be the big favorites here? 

Precious Achiuwa, the AAC Player of the Year in 2020, is a matchup nightmare for anyone, but Penn State does have a strong defense and Memphis is one of the most turnover-prone teams in the country. While Achiuwa is a matchup problem for Penn State, Lamar Stevens and his 17 ppg would equally be a problem for Memphis.

Prediction: Penn State

Iowa (20-11) vs USC (22-9)

About the bowl: Iowa controlled the Holiday Bowl from start to finish, beating USC 49-27. USC QB Kedon Slovis got hurt, and that was the end of any comeback chances. Iowa’s defense forced three turnovers.

About basketball: Iowa’s Luke Garza was named Sporting News National Player of the Year. He was also named a consensus First-team All-American and the Big Ten Player of the Year.

Ultimately, I think Iowa’s guards would have made the difference in this basketball game, but watching 6’11 Luke Garza (23.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.8 bpg) go up against 6’9 Onyeka Okongwu (16.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg) would be so much fun.

Prediction: Iowa

Tennessee (17-14) vs Indiana (20-12)

About the bowl: Indiana led the Gator Bowl 22-9 with 5 minutes to go, and was on track to win their first bowl game since 1991. Tennessee scored two touchdowns within 30 seconds (an onside kick recovery occurred between scores). With just over 2 minutes, Indiana missed a 52 yard field goal, got the ball back again with 2 minutes to go and moved into Tennessee territory, but failed to capitalize, losing after a thrilling 5 minute stretch.

About basketball: Indiana was poised to make their first NCAA Tournament since 2016, while Tennessee was on pace to miss the tournament for the first time since 2017.

It would be fun to see Devonte Green matched up with Yves Pons and Trayce Jackson-Davis matched up with John Fulkerson.

Prediction: Tennessee

Louisville (24-7) vs Mississippi State (20-11)

About the bowl: Louisville win 38-28 in the Music City Bowl, and I would expect a similar basketball result.

About basketball: Jordan Nwora (18 ppg) lead the way for Louisville in 2019-20. Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry shot 50% from the floor and averaged 17.4 ppg and 10.1 rpg and would certainly provide problems for Steven Enoch and Dwayne Sutton down low.

Prediction: Louisville

Oklahoma (19-12) vs LSU (21-10)

About the bowl: In the Sugar Bowl, as part of the CFB Playoffs, Burrow threw 6 first half TD passes in a 63-28 blowout against the Sooners. LSU led 49-14 at halftime. Burrow finished the game with 493 yards and 8 total touchdowns (1 rush).

About basketball: Good news for Oklahoma – Joe Burrow doesn’t play basketball (if he did, I’m sure he would dominate though). Skyler Mays and Javonte Smart are good players for LSU, but not Burrow-good.

Prediction: LSU

Other Notable Games

Ohio State (21-10) vs Clemson (16-15)

Clemson won a classic in the Fiesta Bowl to improve to 3-0 all-time vs Ohio State and advance to the National Championship Game. Too bad Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne don’t play basketball. Clemson would be no match on the hardwood for the Buckeyes.

Cincinnati (20-10) vs Boston College (13-19)

Something tells me this game would have been awfully similar to the football version, where Bearcats won the Birmingham Bowl 38-6.

Georgia (16-16) vs Baylor (26-4)

Baylor spent more time than any team ranked #1 this season. This game would not be close, but anytime you could watch Georgia guard Anthony Edwards is worth the time.

Minnesota (15-16) vs Auburn (25-6)

2020 Outback Bowl rematch features a Minnesota team that vastly underwhelmed in basketball, after overwhelming and breaking through in football. Auburn followed up a disappointing football season with an improved year in 2019, beating Oregon and Alabama and in basketball, finished near the top of the SEC once again, after making a run to the Final Four.

Alabama (16-15) vs Michigan (19-12)

Alabama roll(ed tide) in the Citrus Bowl, winning 35-16. In basketball, Alabama coach Nate Oats (previously at Buffalo) and Juwan Howard (previously assistant coach of Miami Heat) just completed their first seasons, respectively, at their schools and both did well given the circumstances. These guys are no Nick Saban or Jim Harbaugh, but they should be able to have consistent success in the future. 

Kentucky (25-6) vs Virginia Tech (16-16)

Belk Bowl rematch features Virginia Tech coach Mike Young getting another shot at Kentucky. Young coached Wofford from 2002-2019 and after leading the school to their first ever NCAA Tournament win in round 1, they fell short of a historic upset in round 2 losing to Kentucky. 

Utah (16-15) vs Texas (19-12)

Texas has been underwhelming in both sports, but did finish the football season strong by beating Utah in the Alamo Bowl, after a 7-5 regular season. Utah started 11-1 and was on the brink of making the Playoffs, but lost the PAC-12 Championship Game and then this and finished 11-3.

In basketball, Utah was very disappointing – the 16 wins were there fewest since 2013. Texas was right on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament. If they missed, it would have been the third time in four years.

North Carolina (14-19) vs Temple (14-17)

UNC blasted Temple in the Military Bowl 55-13. They finished second-to-last in the ACC, going 6-14 in conference play. Injuries and lack of veteran leadership hurt them. But if Cole Anthony and Garrison Brooks were healthy, I would still take UNC over an average Temple team.

Notre Dame (20-12) vs Iowa St (12-20)

Notre Dame won the Camping World Bowl 33-9 and would likely win in basketball by a similar margin.

Texas A&M (16-14) vs Oklahoma State (18-14)

A&M won the Texas Bowl 24-21. One month later, Oklahoma State returned the favor in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Cowboys won on the road 73-62.

Isaac Likekele led Oklahoma State with 13 points while three players led Texas A&M each with 11 points (Josh Nebo, Emanuel Miller, Quenton Jackson).

Michigan State (22-9) vs Wake Forest (13-18)

Michigan State won 27-21 in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City’s Yankee Stadium. Despite Wake’s recent struggles, this game is much more appealing on paper at NYC’s Madison Square Garden. Of course, Michigan State would win almost any year, but watching Tom Izzo’s Spartans is always worth the time.

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