Even if you don’t feel like college basketball’s NCAA Tournament is the fairest way to determine a national champion, you have to admit it’s still a whole lot fairer than how college football handles things. The College Football Playoff may have streamlined the process, but it’s still rife with valid complaints and quality teams getting snubbed.
But did you ever wonder…what if we decided our college basketball postseason as we do with college football? What if, instead of a thrilling 68-team tournament playing meaningful games, we divvied everyone up into exhibition bowl games for the sake of it? What might that look like?
First, some ground rules…
- We’ll use the 2018-2019 bowl game schedule.
- We’ll try to stick to the actual NCAA Tournament 1-68 seedings when possible.
- Same rules as football, conference champions get major bowl bids. At-large bids determined by any non-conference winning teams highly ranked and remaining at-large teams.
- We’ll try our best to stick to bowl-conference affiliations without getting too crazy.
- Mid-major bowl affiliations will be re-imagined amongst the different conferences in basketball.
- Keep the same order in which the 2015-2016 bowls are played.
Reminder: As dumb as this all is, this is actually how we determine our football national champion. So without further ado, here’s what the 2019 NCAA College Basketball Postseason could have looked like…
Cure Bowl, Orlando, FL
Yale Bulldogs (21-7) vs. Gardner-Webb (23-11)
Actually, a nice mid-major showdown to kick bowl season off.
New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque, NM
Montana Grizzlies (26-8) vs. Abilene Christian (27-6)
Perfectly fine, if that’s your thing.
Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas, NV
TCU Horned Frogs (20-13) vs. UC-Irvine Anteaters (30-5)
Not sure which school should be more disappointed with the placement here.
Camellia Bowl, Montgomery, AL
Northern Kentucky (26-8) vs. Colgate Raiders (24-10)
This is indeed a college basketball game that could happen.
New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans, LA
Northeastern Huskies (23-10) vs. Bradley Braves (20-14)
If Bradley loses the New Orleans Bowl, the local media will never let them forget about it.
Boca Raton Bowl, Boca Raton, FL
St. John’s Red Storm (21-12) vs. Georgia State (23-9)
Makes perfect sense to send St. John’s to Boca where so many older St. John’s fans now live.
Frisco Bowl, Frisco, TX
Vermont Catamounts (27-6) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (17-15)
Bummer for Vermont to be stuck with the Huskers here. But at least Nebraska will bring some fans with them.
Gasparilla Bowl, Tampa, FL
Western Kentucky (20-14) vs. Dayton Flyers (21-11)
Better than the usual low-percentage NCAA Tournament game these two teams are usually stuck in.
Bahamas Bowl, Nassau, Bahamas
Bowling Green Falcons (22-12) vs. Creighton Bluejays (18-14)
Well, at least you get to go to the Bahamas.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise, ID
Belmont Bruins (26-5) vs. Toledo Rockets (25-7)
A very sneaky fun game, in theory.
Armed Forces Bowl, Ft. Worth, FL
Memphis Tigers (21-13) vs. Furman Paladins (25-7)
Birmingham Bowl, Birmingham, AL
Temple Owls (23-9) vs. UNC-Charlotte 49ers (28-6)
To be fair, Temple is the Pitt football of college basketball. It only seems apt.
Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu, HI
New Mexico State Aggies (30-4) vs. Old Dominion Monarchs (26-8)
A legitimately intriguing matchup that also acts as a great reason to visit Hawaii, as if you needed one.
Dollar General Bowl, Mobile, AL
Buffalo Bulls (31-3) vs. Liberty Flames (28-6)
Guessing Liberty would draw well here, but also guessing Buffalo would be heavily favored.
First Responder Bowl, Dallas, TX
Utah State Aggies (28-6) vs. Clemson Tigers (19-13)
Don’t tell the Clemson football team about this one.
Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit, MI
NC State Wolfpack (22-11) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (17-15)
Quite the epic fall for these proud basketball programs.
Cheez-It Bowl, Phoenix, AZ
Oklahoma Sooners (19-13) vs. Murray State Racers (27-4)
Bummer for Murray State to get stuck with a low-level P5 school opponent, they deserve better.
Texas Bowl, Houston, TX
Baylor Bears (19-13) vs. VCU Rams (25-7)
At least Baylor fans won’t have to travel far.
Independence Bowl, Shreveport, LA
UCF Knights (23-8) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (24-9)
An interesting match-up between two solid teams in a not-as-interesting locale.
Pinstripe Bowl, Bronx, NY
Ohio State Buckeyes (19-14) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (20-13)
Don’t tell Urban Meyer about this. Also, don’t tell Rutgers about this.
Music City Bowl, Nashville, TN
Minnesota Golden Gophers (21-13) vs. Villanova Wildcats (25-9)
Quite the step backward for the defending national champs, but they can’t all be CFP seasons.
Camping World Bowl, Orlando, FL
Saint Louis Bilikins (22-12) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (25-8)
Probably a better game than you’d think.
Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, TX
Kansas Jayhawks (25-9) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (21-12)
Probably a worse game than you’d think.
Belk Bowl, Charlotte, NC
Syracuse Orange (20-13) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (18-15)
Syracuse football fans jokingly said “We Want Bama” after they beat Clemson. Here’s their perverse wish.
Arizona Bowl, Tucson, AZ
Nevada Wolfpack (29-4) vs. Wofford Terriers (29-4)
Legitimately one of the best matchups on the list. See you in Tucson.
Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
Louisville Cardinals (20-13) vs. St. Mary’s Gaels (22-11)
Feels like both programs took a step in opposite directions to get here.
Military Bowl, Washington, D.C.
Cincinnati Bearcats (28-6) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (24-8)
One of the few bowl match-ups that could conceivably also be for real given their football programs.
Redbox Bowl, Santa Clara, CA
Arizona State Sun Devils (22-10) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (22-11)
A game only Pac-12-Big Ten purists could love.
Holiday Bowl, San Diego, CA
Maryland Terrapins (22-10) vs. Washington Huskies (26-8)
A disappointing placement for the Huskies given how things looked before the Pac-12 Tournament.
Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, FL
Florida State Seminoles (27-7) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (23-10)
Way better placement than the Florida State football team could dream of right now.
Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN
Texas Tech Red Raiders (26-6) vs. Ole Miss Rebels (20-12)
The Battle of the R Nickname Teams.
Outback Bowl, Tampa, FL
Wisconsin Badgers (23-10) vs. Florida Gators (19-15)
Kinda surprised this has never been an actual Outback Bowl scenario.
Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
LSU Tigers (26-6) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (23-9)
Peach Bowl, Atlanta, GA
Michigan Wolverines (28-6) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (27-6)
An “off” year for these national powerhouses, if only because they both expected to be in the Playoff.
Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA
Houston Cougars (31-3) vs. Auburn Tigers (25-9)
Probably the best both programs could have hoped for this season.
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Michigan State Spartans (28-6) vs. Oregon Ducks (23-12)
Izzo would be pretty pissed about being left out of the CFP. Then double-pissed when he found out they’d have to play Oregon.
Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, AZ
Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-3) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (23-11)
A real bummer for Gonzaga but such is the life of a non-P5 school in the CFP.
Orange Bowl, Miami, FL (CFP Semifinal)
Virginia Cavaliers (29-3) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (27-6)
A battle of “the other really good ACC teams,” sure to be the better of the two semifinals.
Cotton Bowl, Arlington, TX (CFP Semifinal)
Duke Blue Devils (29-5) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (29-4)
Congrats on your great season, Tennessee, but it’s Zion’s time now.