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Try something a bit different for March Madness

Want to try something different when March Madness rolls around this spring instead of just filling in a bracket like you have done for years? How about doing an NCAA Tournament ‘team draft’ instead?

This idea came about back in my university days, when looking for ways to avoid doing anything actually productive. Back then there were 64 and then 65 teams in the tournament field – the play-in game was introduced for 2001 – and myself and three others decided to divvy up those teams via a draft.

So we wrote each of our four names on pieces of paper, pulled them out of a hat to determine draft order, and decreed that the draft would be conducted via ‘snake order’ – that meant whoever picked first in the first round would pick fourth in the second round then back to first in the third round, etc.

And then we just drafted teams. The four No. 1 seeds were generally taken as the four selections in the first round, usually nobody was brave enough to stray from that, but as the draft went along we would try to outsmart each other and ‘reach’ for lower seeds that we thought would be able to pull off some upsets along the way. Since there was only one play-in game at the time someone simply drafted ‘Play-In Winner’ and then took the loss when that school was bounced by its opponent in its first-round game.

Every victory earned by one of our 16 drafted teams would earn us one point in the standings, no matter if that victory came in the first round, the Sweet Sixteen, or the championship game. Most points won.

Conduct your draft after the play-in games

If you want to keep it simple in these modern times, when there are four play-in games, you can just wait for the results of the four play-in games and then conduct the draft – either late on the Wednesday night or at some point early on the Thursday. Makes a great excuse to stay up late and then call in sick to work.

Do you have more than three friends? Lucky you. You could also expand to include a total of eight people in the draft, and from there you would each draft eight teams (instead of the 16 teams each that a group of four people would draft). That cuts down your individual rooting interests but increases the number of people to which you can direct your trash talk over the six rounds of action of the tournament.

You could also make first-round victories worth one point, second-round victories worth two points, and so on, up to six points for a championship victory if you are dead set on making things complicated.

Maryland leads to the victory back in 2002

Our original group carried on our NCAA Tournament draft for a number of years, with three stalwarts and a few others rotating as the fourth person at the event. And the highlight for me was my 2002 victory, having selected eventual-champion Maryland and Final Four Oklahoma in the draft that year, with late selection Missouri (a No. 12 seed) going all the way to the Elite Eight for three key points.

The next year I also drafted the champion – it was third-seeded Syracuse – but was undone by poor performances by my top seeds Kentucky and Florida and ended up with a distant third-place result.

Selection Sunday for the 2024 NCAA Tournament takes place on March 17, with the First Four in Dayton on March 19 and March 20, and the first and second rounds running from March 21 to March 24. The Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight then run from March 28 to March 31, with the Final Four taking place on Saturday, April 6 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The title game will be played on April 8.

With zero championships between his MLB, NHL, and NFL teams over the last 30 years, Dave keeps one foot in the past while shaking his fist at the present. Having provided content to all manner of sports websites over a 20-year career in the industry, Dave brings to Attiq an eye for all things editorial and a disdain for all things New York Yankees. Click here for Dave's posts.