College basketball’s equivalent to the World Cup, the NCAA March Madness tournament provides excitement, thrills and surprises to millions of fans around the world.
With the first games just around the corner, and the actual team off this week for the international break, it’s a good time to indulge in some speculation. Let’s take a look at how our star players’ skills would transfer to the hardwood.
The Chicago Fire’s on-field captain, Dax McCarty, assumes the role of point guard. A great facilitator capable of maintaining possession and putting his teammates in great spots, Dax is never afraid to dig in on defense and make life miserable for the opposition. McCarty resembles a cross between Georgia Tech’s Chris Paul and Jevon Carter of West Virginia, able to read the whole field and pick out the right pass, but also able to lock in defensively and slow the opponent’s tempo. The Men in Red will be able to rely on his toughness and professionalism, setting the tone for the team.
At shooting guard, Aleksander Katai brings great speed and an ability to slash in from the perimeter. The Serbian always looks capable of putting points on the board, and can punish teams in a heartbeat if they lose track of him. Shades of collegiate Steph Curry or Jimmer Fredette, Katai is able to get to the net or launch shots from long range, making him the dynamic scorer the Fire need.
Playing the small forward role is 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic. A smart, creative box player, Niko is able to disguise his runs and get behind the defense, putting himself into great positions for easy tap-ins or to be there for a rebound. The concern for the Hungarian is he tends to run hot and cold with his scoring, but when he is on, he is among the best in the league.
Bastian Schweinsteiger takes up the power forward for Chicago. A tough, intelligent player with a storied career that has proven his ability to take a game by the scruff and will his team to victory. A rallying point for the rest of the team, Schweinsteiger’s composure and understanding of the game allows him to put his teammates in the best positions to win the game. Similar to the NBA’s Dirk Nowitzki, Basti is able to cause match-up problems for his opponents and seemingly pass or shoot out of any coverage.
A 6’4 defensive stopper, David Ousted, is able to anchor the Fire and keep points off the board. Capable of swatting shots away and covering a lot of ground defensively, Ousted is the key for Chicago’s defensive efforts. His game experience and maturity are also key for this club, which features a lot of youth and inexperience, while the Dane has been there and done that.
With most teams using an eight-man rotation come March, the Fire will have three subs able to come in and make a difference.
Young and dynamic with excellent field vision and boundless creativity, Djordje Mihailovic provides a potent punch off the bench, adding a new dimension to the Fire’s attack. Mihailovic’s development has been key for the Fire, and the more he plays the better he will get.
Also coming off the bench is Raheem Edwards, the Fire’s Swiss Army Knife of a utility player. Able to contribute on offense and defense and capable of playing a number of different positions, Edwards gives the Fire flexibility and reliable options. When he is in, he gives his team an emotional and playing level boost and seems to up the tempo of their attacks.
Our final bench spot goes to the man that lives and breathes his #grindset mentality every day— Brandt Bronico. Bronico will come in and play his heart out, closing down passing lanes, challenging for every ball and putting his teammates in great positions on the offensive end. A fierce competitor whose motor is running the whole game, Bronico will make sure the opposition does not get to take a play off.
What this team lacks in physicality and height, they make up for in versatility, skill and passion. Many of these players are able to take on different roles for Chicago, adapting to whatever is necessary to gain the win. With a lot of focus on improving the offensive output, this team will go as far as Katai and Nikolic will take them, as they will rely on their experienced players to deliver key performances throughout. This team could realistically win a game or two in the tournament and sneak into the Sweet Sixteen.