The time has come for our final post on college basketball and European football doppelgangers. Because after all, there are two sporting competitions, in tournament format, captivating us this time of year: college basketball’s NCAA Tournament, also known as “March Madness,” and the UEFA Champions League.
Our final pairing is Manchester City and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. After we cover them, we’ll briefly go through the link-ups we ended up not having time to cover this week.
To be honest, we originally paired Paris Saint-Germain here, and you could honestly put either PSG or Man City up with the Gonzaga Bulldogs. It’s the “younger” more emerging power in Europe, who went from nothing to near the top of the sport’s food chain.
(Well PSG is a young club, but City have been around a long while, it’s just that their modern history didn’t begin until 2008). The Zags didn’t really become a thing until the mid-1990s.
They pretty much dominate their league/conference (West Coast Conference/Ligue 1/Premier League) and then often go very deep in the big tournament.
However, Gonzaga has yet to win it all, while City and PSG haven’t won the UCL.
However, you can’t call them “underdogs” given their wealth and power. Both City and PSG are basically owned by extremely wealthy petrol states and Les Parisiens spend the equivalent of the GDP of a G7 country on their player rosters.
As for Gonzaga, I don’t know if they’re actually rich, but it is a private, Jesuit school. And typically, private Jesuit schools are pretty expensive to go to.
Now it’s time to move on to the other analogies, the ones we cannot flesh out and fill out more, because our business model prohibits it.
Juventus & Michigan Wolverines
Both excel at making deep tournament runs, and often find themselves in the final. However, both have real problems closing the deal once they get there. Juve won it all in ’84-’85 and ’95-’96, but also lost the title game seven times (’72-’73, ’82-’83, ’96-’97, ’97-’98, ’02-’03, ’14-’15, ’16-’17).
Michigan claimed the 1989 national title, but finished runners-up on six occasions (1965, 1976, 1992, 1993, 2013 and 2018)
Arsenal & UCLA Bruins
Then came drought, and some lean times, but that’s going to end this year, right?
Chelsea & Michigan State Spartans
They typically do best in the tournament when you don’t see them coming. It’s rare when they win it all, but they almost always go deep!
AC Milan & Indiana Hoosiers
A very rich history, pretty deep in the past, and it’s not coming back. ever. Well, maybe with Milan, someday, but definitely not for IU.
Bayern Munch & Villanova Wildcats
Look at stats and numbers, they sync up a bit.
FC Barcelona & North Carolina Tar Heels
Who can not just keep up, but also beat Duke and Real Madrid? Their arch-rivals, who are very strong in their own right.
March Madness and Champions League Doppelgangers Series
In a similar vein, the 2014 World Cup Round of 16 nations-college basketball program doppelgangers.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.