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2012 NCAA Tournament: March Madness Brackets and Fantasies

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So, everyone knows the most popular way of getting into March action is lay the teams out, pick the winners, and let it ride. Everywhere you turn, there's another pick'em game you can sign up for. They're a ton of fun, no doubt, and in fact, Yahoo! Tourney Pick'em has teamed up with SBNation to give away a $5 million Perfect Bracket and $10,000 Best Bracket Sweepstakes that you should probably sign up for.

But we also wanted to give you another option, for the daring types. Some friends and I for the past four years now have run, for lack of a better word, Fantasy Madness. Basically, eight commissioners draft eight teams each in a snake-style draft.

  • Once you get your eight, you get points based on your teams' wins. The way we score it is that we ignore the play-in games and award one point for each first and second round win. You get two points for each Sweet 16 and Elite 8 win. You get three points for a Final Four win, and you get four big ones for owning the champions.
  • Bonus! If at any time during the tournament your team lands a big upset -- defined as a 5-seed differential -- you get a bonus point! So you'll get bonus points for any upset in a 6-11, 5-12, 4-13, etc. matchup, but not a 7-10 matchup. So if you picked a 14 seed, say, Belmont, then you've got potential for lots of bonus points (over Georgetown, over SDSU, not over Purdue, but over Carolina, etc.).
  • Tiebreakers are determined by the total number of wins all of your teams had. So while your bonus points will help you climb to the top, in the event of a tie, they won't be any use.

Pretty simple, pretty straightforward, and not sure why more people don't do it. It also means you don't have to spend the week hounding down people to join your pool!

We went ahead and conducted our draft tonight. I had the option of picking the winner of Iona-BYU when Iona was up 25 in the first half, but luckily I passed on that offer. Here's how the results played out. In the first round, Alexis selected Duke as the overall No. 1. At the end of the round, Kenny received back-to-back picks and got steals with Syracuse and Missouri -- or at least, with Missouri. Mr. Irrelevant 2012 goes to the winner of Lamar / Vermont.

Final draft board follows the jump, and I'd love to get your thoughts.

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7 Round 8
Alexis Duke Murray St NC State Harvard Ohio Long Beach St Iowa St Lamar / VT
McKenzie Kentucky Michigan Cincinnati Notre Dame Alabama West Virginia Davidson LIU Brooklyn
Kirby North Carolina Louisville Indiana Gonzaga Southern Miss Colorado St Colorado W. Kentucky
Roger Kansas Memphis Georgetown UCONN VCU Florida BYU Loyola (MD)
Brian Ohio State Marquette Temple VIRGINIA Xavier St. Louis New Mexico St Detroit
Kevin Michigan St Wisconsin Wichita St New Mexico Texas Belmont St. Bonaventure UNC Ashville
Brady Florida St Baylor Vanderbilt Kansas St Saint Mary's Creighton Montana Lehigh
Kenny Syracuse Missouri San Diego St UNLV Purdue Cal/USF S. Dakota St Norfolk St

How did we do? Whose team looks most poised to make a run? Who had suspect choices? What were the bargain picks and who is overrated?

First, let me explain my picks. I can't speak for the others, but hopefully they'll offer some words in the comments here.

I was a little dumbfounded when my first pick rolled around. Alexis is a Duke grad, and it was no surprise to any of us that she would be picking with her heart (easy to do when your team is a perennial top-ten squad), but a Kansas top-four pick surprised me. I was all set to pick Missouri, if available. But when news broke that Syracuse's Fab Melo would not be playing in the Tournament, that suddenly made the East Region look a lot more attractive. Plus, knowing that I wanted to snag Virginia if I could, I didn't want to shoot myself with both Mizzou and UVA possibly meeting that early. That's why I ended up with Ohio State.

Jumping on to the third round, I like Temple a lot -- and I might be overrating them -- but I am definitely hoping that USF tops Cal tonight. I like Cal's chances over Temple, but I like Temple over USF. In any event, I also like the potential Temple-Michigan contest. Michigan's PPG is lower than Temple's opponents' PPG, though obviously they're in a much better conference. Michigan had a notable 5-point win over Ohio State, but when they lost to them, boy did they lose (15 and 22 points, respectively). Temple on the other hand lays on 76 points per game and join Ohio State as the only two non-conference teams to beat Duke.

Virginia in Round Four was an easy pick, because with seven of the eight of us being UVA grads, I didn't think they'd last much longer on the board. I would have picked Notre Dame in the fifth round, because I like their chances, a lot, over Duke, but since they got snagged, I did the next best thing -- I picked their opponent, Xavier. At this point, I had no one in the South Region and knew I needed to find points somewhere in there. I think / hope Duke will pull a Duke with an early exit.

While some people go for an even distribution, I decided that, since I think Ohio State has a good shot at winning it all, I'd just have one pick in that Region and add a bonus pick to another region. B happenstance, that was the West region (Marquette, St. Louis, UVa), but it could easily have been from either of the other two.

Teams I wish I had been able to get? As mentioned above, Notre Dame, possibly Mizzou (though I passed on them, so it's my own fault). I really like Belmont's chances of pulling off a first-round upset and beyond. I also like San Diego State to reach the Sweet 16 and maybe even the Elite 8. Harvard I definitely would have picked if they were still available -- anyone over Vandy, really. But I like Wisconsin, so I didn't want to use a high pick on Harvard.

Last thing, because I think this post is getting entirely too long. Right after Kevin picked Wisconsin, he made a trade proposal. He wanted to offer me Michigan State and Wisconsin for Ohio State and whoever my next pick was going to be. I never did find out who he would have drafted with that choice, but I turned it down, namely because I think Michigan State is vulnerable every step of the way. What would you have done?

Definitely want to hear your thoughts on this! I'll update this as March progresses, so you can see how I did and perhaps run one of your own next year.

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