The best of the best: Deandre Ayton vs. Marvin Bagley III, Collin Sexton vs. Trae Young and more

College basketball has always thrived on high-profile, one-on-one matchups. Some even altered the history of the game.

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of Elvin Hayes and Lew Alcindor (later to be known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) facing off in 1968's "Game of the Century" at the Astrodome in Houston. Hayes blocked a few of Alcindor's shots and his Houston powerhouse beat the future Los Angeles Lakers legend's UCLA squad by a bucket in the nationally televised game. But Alcindor had the last laugh when UCLA beat Houston by 32 points in the Final Four that year.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson commenced their storied rivalry when Bird's Indiana State team suffered a loss to Johnson's Michigan State squad in the 1979 national title game.

Larry Johnson faced Christian Laettner as a member of Jerry Tarkanian's small-ball lineup in a 1991 national semifinal game, but Johnson and his UNLV teammates couldn't stop the Duke superstar that night.

And Jay Williams and Juan Dixon fueled some of the ACC's most exciting years as Duke and Maryland scrapped in the early 2000s.

We hope that tradition continues.

With the talent anchoring the 2017-18 campaign, we've considered a few fantasy matchups we'd love to see this season.

Deandre Ayton vs. Marvin Bagley III

For nearly a month in 2015, Arizona's Ayton and Duke's Bagley played on the same squad at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, before Bagley's father pulled him from the school amid controversy related to its academic profile.

In their first action together, they each scored 30 points in a come-from-behind win for Hillcrest Prep over a junior college that had won a national title two years prior.

The union did not last. But now the two revolutionary big men are vying for the Wooden Award and the No. 1 spot in this summer's NBA draft.


Duke's Bagley throws down alley-oop

Marvin Bagley III gets the half-court lob from Grayson Allen and stuffs it in with two hands.

Ayton (20.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game) is a 7-foot-1 monster described by one NBA scout as "Dwight Howard with a 3-ball." He's a 260-pound center who could carry Arizona to coach Sean Miller's first Final Four.

And Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski recently called Bagley (22.5 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 1.2 BPG) "the most unique player I've ever coached." The freshman's polish and versatility are even more impressive when you realize he reclassified into the 2017 recruiting class and should be a high school senior preparing for prom.

An Arizona-Duke matchup in the NCAA tournament would pit the former high school teammates against one another in the most jaw-dropping one-on-one matchup the game is capable of producing.

Trae Young vs. Collin Sexton

How special is Oklahoma's Young? In any other season, the national spotlight would remain locked on Bagley and Ayton. But Young is the face of college basketball.

He's not just having a good season. He's making history. In last Saturday's overtime win over TCU, he became the first Big 12 player shorter than 6-6 to record a 40-point, 10-rebound game, per ESPN Stats & Information.


Young mesmerizes defender, nails step-back 3 to start game

Trae Young shakes TCU's defense and hits a 3-pointer for the game's first points.

Young started the season as an overlooked five-star prospect with a program that won 11 games last season. Now he's an icon chasing Bagley and Ayton for the top slot in this summer's NBA draft.

Sexton will join them in the green room. Sexton is a strong, athletic -- sometimes wild -- 6-3 guard who lacks Young's finesse but does his damage with his explosiveness and aggression. He's averaging 19.3 PPG and shooting 37 percent from the 3-point line for Alabama. In a December loss to Arizona, he scored 30 points in front of 30-plus NBA scouts and executives. A month earlier, he dropped 40 points and nearly led Alabama to a win over Minnesota with just him and two other teammates available to play the final 10 minutes of the game.

The two NBA lottery-bound guards will put on a show when their teams face off in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Jan. 27 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Miles Bridges vs. Mikal Bridges

Michigan State's Miles Bridges (16.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.2 assists) is on-court proof that leaving while you're hot often is the best move for a freshman to make. And Villanova's Mikal Bridges is building a case for a spot in the first round of this summer's NBA draft with a successful junior season.


Bridges caps off steal with high-flying dunk in transition

Villanova forward Mikal Bridges gets the steal and takes it the other way for the dunk, giving the Wildcats a nine-point lead.

Miles Bridges is not the offensive threat from beyond the arc that he was a year ago -- 34 percent so far this season, as compared to 39 percent last season. But he's still a high-level athlete with a diverse skill set and above-the-rim highlights.

You could say the same about Mikal Bridges (17.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 1.8 steals).

They're both 6-7 high-flyer and forces off the bounce. You don't see many players their size with their combination of tools.

Let's all hope we see a one-on-one matchup between these two for the "Best Bridges in America" title.

Jaren Jackson Jr. vs. Mohamed Bamba

They're both all arms. Texas 7-footer Bamba and Michigan State's Jackson round out a promising season for collegiate big men.


Miami's Walker slams home posterizing dunk

Lonnie Walker IV gets the inbound pass, drives to the bucket and rocks the rim with a one-handed jam.

Bamba has used his nearly 8-foot wingspan to become a defensive game-changer for the Longhorns. He's second in the country with 4.4 blocks per game. Jackson, a 6-11 forward, is not far behind with 3.3 BPG. But Jackson also has connected on an uncanny 43 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Jackson and Bamba lack the physical maturity that Bagley and Ayton enjoy. But these raw talents are both fun to watch.

Landry Shamet vs. Jalen Brunson

Two of America's smartest point guards, Villanova's Brunson and Wichita State's Shamet, don't produce viral highlights each night, but they've helped their respective squads pursue a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Brunson is a 6-3 junior point guard with the mind of a 10-year NBA veteran. He's averaging 5.2 APG and just 1.2 turnovers. He also is connecting on 48.1 percent of his 3-point attempts. He's the catalyst for a Villanova team that is capable of earning its second national title in three years.

Shamet also wants his veteran group to reach the Final Four stage in San Antonio. He's shooting 52 percent from beyond the arc for a Shockers squad that could win the American Athletic Conference title in its inaugural season with the league. He's ranked ninth in offensive rating on KenPom.com.

Against Young and Oklahoma earlier this season, Shamet struggled and finished 1-for-6 from the 3-point line. He's eager for another shot on the national stage to prove his value.

A matchup against Brunson and Villanova would present that shot at redemption.

Isaiah Wilkins vs. Vincent Edwards

You'd have to play this one on a playground. Relax the rules a bit.

Wilkins (6.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 1.4 SPG) is a strong Virginia forward who anchors a team ranked No. 1 in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom.com. Wilkins, a member of last year's all-ACC defensive team, is a physical defender who can soar and block a shot if his teammate gets beat off the dribble or intercept a crosscourt pass and rise for a dunk on a fast break. He also is built like a free safety.

He's the defender coach Tony Bennett's opponents hate to see.

But Edwards, a 6-8 forward, is driving a top-10 offense at Purdue. Edwards (14.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.7 APG, 44 percent from the 3-point line) can hurt you anywhere on the court. He's big enough to score on easy putbacks and drive against contact in the paint. But he also is a sharpshooter from the 3-point line. You can't get lost on ball screens because he's dangerous with his midrange game or if he decides to penetrate.

And Wilkins, who has halted the dreams of the ACC's best players in recent seasons, is the perfect player to shadow Edwards in what would be a balanced matchup between two of the game's best players on each side of the ball.

Rawle Alkins vs. Lonnie Walker IV

Yeah, we're just here for the dunks.

We're not even sure we would want these two to play any defense.

Just clear the court and let them dunk.

Miami's Walker is doing a lot of mean things at the rim right now. And a healthy Alkins is throwing down vicious slams for Arizona.

Again, we're not here for defensive principles. We just want to see them dunk.

They would not disappoint in a one-on-one affair.