SI.com's What-If Final Four
What if LeBron hadn't gone directly to the NBA? What if King James and Greg Oden were teammates at Ohio State?
"We would win the whole thing," says James.
Oden lights up when asked about the possibility. "I would just pick and rebound," says the freshman 7-footer. "That's all I would need to do. Anybody with Lebron has a good shot at the championship."
Would a LeBron-led Ohio State run away with the national championship or would North Carolina (with Dwight Howard, J.R. Smith and Marvin Williams) or UConn (with Rudy Gay, Charlie Villanueva, Andrew Bynum, Marcus Williams and Josh Boone) cut down the nets? That's up to you.
Welcome to SIOC's third annual What If Tournament, where we imagine what the 64-team bracket would look like had high school players never been allowed to enter the NBA early and everyone had to spend four years playing college ball. Last year, you voted for a Dwight Howard and Marvin Williams-led North Carolina squad over LeBron James and the Buckeyes in the finals. Who will win this year's crown? Vote now for your favorite team.
Final Four Pick Winners
1 North Carolina North Carolina
Adds: Dwight Howard ('08), J.R. Smith ('08), Marvin Williams ('09)
How would the addition of Howard, Williams and Smith help the Tar Heels? Says PG Bobby Frasor: "It's kind of funny to think about how good they would be. I don't know if we would have lost a game yet. With Tyler [Hansbrough] and Brandan [Wright] coming off the bench, that's pretty amazing right there." We have to agree. Both Smith and Williams are an upgrade over Reyshawn Terry, whose athletic body usually doesn’t overcome his poor decision-making. Add Tyler Hansbrough and ACC tournament MVP (and frosh) Brandan Wright, speedy point guard Ty Lawson, and sharp-shooter Wayne Ellington, the young Tar Heels would be a nearly impossible squad to defend. --Nicki Jhabvala
1 Ohio State Ohio State
Adds: LeBron James ('07)
With the addition of King James, Ohio State is about a No. 3 seed...in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Buckeyes already have at least four future NBA players in Greg Oden, Daequan Cook, Mike Conley Jr. and Ron Lewis -- and now you add the most hyped basketball player ever? People in Columbus would forget about their football team if this squad ever set foot on a court together. --Matt Dollinger
6 Duke Duke
Adds: Luol Deng ('07), Shaun Livingston ('08)
While an NCAA bid for the Blue Devils baffled some as their 22-10 record and No. 7 seed heading into the ACC tournament hardly seemed satisfactory for a top D-I school, the addition of Shaun Livingston (sans the injury) and Luol Deng would quash any doubts. Livingston, a 6-7 guard, would add versatility and speed to the Duke lineup, while the real help would come from 6-9 Luol Deng, who's averaging 7.1 rebounds (second to current Duke forward Josh McRoberts who averages 7.8) and 18.7 points per game for the Chicago Bulls this season -- more than any player for the Blue Devils. Adding Deng down low and Livingston at the point (benching Greg Paulus), keeping Jon Schcyer as a shooter, putting Gerald Henderson on the other wing and keeping McRoberts in the post would give Duke a clear advantage over its opponents. --Nicki Jhabvala
6 UConn UConn
Adds: Charlie Villanueva ('07), Andrew Bynum ('09), Marcus Williams ('07), Josh Boone ('07), Rudy Gay ('07)
This is a team made for March with NBA-quality players across the court. Villanueva and Bynum form a dangerous inside tandem. Then there's slashing forward Rudy Gay on the wing and cool-as-ice point guard Marcus Williams. Anything less than a championship would be a disappointment for coach Jim Calhoun. --Dakota Rubin
So who do you think would win with the assortment of players they could have if players hadn't jumped to high school and if they stayed four years?