Earlier this week, in celebration of NCAA March Madness, the 68-team tournament that crowns the national champion of college basketball in the United States, Men in Blazers (the soccer-centric British podcast featuring Roger Bennett and Michael Davies) tried to deliver comparisons between the top 10 teams in the Premier League table to college basketball teams. The question they asked: which college basketball team in the 2016 NCAA tournament is most similar to each team at the top of the table? As an avid fan of both the English Premier League and college basketball, I decided that I would also have another crack at it; but this time, I’ll attempt to do it for all 20 teams in the 2015-16 Premier League. A daunting task, sure, but since it’s March, why not?
Here we go…
AFC Bournemouth – UNC Wilmington
- Welcome to the show, guys! You guys haven’t been here alltooften, but that’s ok. Both teams are simply just happy to be here.
Arsenal – Syracuse
- Both squads are led by their long-time, legendary coaches (Arsene Wenger and Jim Boeheim). While they are led by Hall-of-Fame coaches, these teams have struggled to live up to expectations in the past decade and never seem to win the big one. These programs are based in the largest cities in their countries (London and New York City). A sexy team to follow.
Aston Villa – Arizona
- Two clubs that consistently feature in “The Big Dance” for each of their contests (Aston Villa has not been relegated from the Premier League since its inception in 1992, Arizona has been selected in 30 of the last 31 NCAA tournaments). While they may not win too many titles, each squad is always in the mix and can never be counted out.
Chelsea – Kentucky
- Fans are unbearable. Every offseason, these two teams reload and snag the best young prospects that eventually blossom into superstars. Each program has an infinite amount of resources that their coaches can use at their disposal. Every year, it’s trophy or bust. Winning is an expectation every season.
Crystal Palace – Texas
- Both of these programs’ historical archs resemble a roller coaster; you never seem to know what to get each season. They could end up being one of the top teams, but at the same time, they could also lay flat and fail to live up to their potential. Additionally, both Crystal Palace and Texas have the tendency of playing down to inferior opponents, which costs them gravely. Also, both sides produce top talent for the English national team and the NBA
Everton – Louisville
- Teams often overshadowed by their arch rival (Liverpool and Kentucky, respectively), but nonetheless, always are near the top. Fans will often be crying to reporters, “But what about us? Have you been watching our games?” Solid, dependable. Rarely will win awards, but will always be a threat.
Leicester City – Any of the 16 seeded teams
- If Leicester City wins the Premier League this season, it would be the equivalent of one of the 16 seeds winning the NCAA tournament. Hell, it may be even more impressive. What the Foxes have achieved this season will never be forgotten.
Liverpool – Indiana
- These programs were unquestionably the cream of the crop in the 1970s and 1980s. However, in recent years, both teams have experience instability and turmoil, causing their squads to fail to reach the heights that their previous squads reached many moons ago. The fans are similar, too; both sets of fans will always be quick to remind one of their history and their past successes when debating which program is the greatest. Some may call it living in the past. They would say otherwise.
Manchester City – UCONN
- Two teams that have exploded onto the national scene in the past few decades. With little to no history, both squads have forged a new identity based on championships and titles. On the other hand, both teams have been criticized (and even punished by UEFA and the NCAA, respectively) for the way they do business.
Manchester United – Duke
- The most hated (and most popular) teams in their leagues, these two teams experienced unprecedented success in the 1990s under their legendary head coaches, Sir Alex Ferguson and Mike Krzyzewski. Since then, these programs simply continue to win and be amongst the best seemingly every year.
Newcastle United – Maryland
- Both teams are celebrated for their rapid fan-bases. Loyal following for both squads.
Norwich City – Baylor
- Both teams are green and yellow?
Southampton – Wisconsin
- The 2014-15 season was a dream for both of these teams. Can their recent success be sustained in the long-term?
Stoke City – West Virginia
- Both of these squads are famous for their style of play (Stoke City’s “Route One” tactics and West Virginia’s “Press Virginia” tight defense).
Sunderland – Gonzaga
- These two teams have built solid, robust programs in the past decade on the coast. The public criminally underestimates these sides.
Swansea City – VCU
- A hot, up-and-coming franchise that has recently broken into the ranks of the best in their respective sports. Both of these squads have had success in league tournaments as of late (Swansea City in the FA Cup and League Cup)
Tottenham Hotspur – Michigan State
- Loyal fans, great coaching and management, superb facilities, and a reputation for success every year. What’s not to like? These two teams always are in the mix as a top club when it matters as the season winds down.
Watford – Oregon State
- I think fans of both sports will recognize these teams as forgettable and irrelevant. No offense.
West Bromwich Albion – Temple
- Meh. Blah. Pretty good squads, but really never a threat to the blue bloods.
West Ham United – Villanova
- Historically solid. Located in the heart of big cities.
What are your thoughts? What comparisons did I make that are totally off? Any other comparisons that may be apt for these teams?