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Fantasy NCAA Tournament: The Gunner Draft

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Doug McDermott #3 of the Creighton Bluejays is the leading scorer entering the tournament, but is he worthy of a first round Gunner Draft pick?
Doug McDermott #3 of the Creighton Bluejays is the leading scorer entering the tournament, but is he worthy of a first round Gunner Draft pick?

Year after year, I have blogged about what I consider the premier Fantasy game of the year, the NCAA Tournament Fantasy Gunner Pool.

The idea behind it is simple, but the strategy is complicated. Basically all you're looking for are total points scored during the tournament. No rebounds. No assists. No steals. Straight points.

This means that what you want to draft is a player that not only will score a lot of points per game, but also make a deep tournament run.

So while the leading scorer entering the tournament is Creighton Bluejays Doug McDermott, as an 8-seed with a possible matchup against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the second round, common logic tells you that he'll play 2 games max. With an average of 23.2 points on the season, McDermott is probably good for 46 points, a ton in a Gunner but probably not worthy of a first round pick. (I don't want to give too much away, as our draft is tomorrow evening). Same with Lehigh Mountain Hawks's CJ McCollum or South Dakota St. Jackrabbits' Nate Wolters. They both average 21 ppg, but are likely first round knockouts.

Instead, you will want to look at teams projected to go far in the tournament, and snatch up their players. Take the Kentucky Wildcats Marquis Teague for example. He's sixth on the Wildcats, averaging 9.4 ppg - roughly 14 points per game less than McDermott - but everyone expects UK to cut down the nets, so in that scenario Teague would play 6 games. If UK does advance that far, Teague's 9.4 ppg would net him 56 tournament points, or 10 more than McDermott.

So the ideal combination you're looking for is highest ppg on a team that will advance the furthest in the tourney. Make sense?

As far as Big 12ers go, the Kansas Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers are the highest seeds and projected to go the furthest. Say each make a Final Four. That would mean that Thomas Robinson, Marcus Denmon and Tyshawn Taylor would all get 5 games in. With all averaging over 17 ppg, you're looking at 85 points each from the trio. And while J'Covan Brown led the conference in scoring with 20.1 ppg, as an 11-seed, they're underdogs in their first game, so in all likelihood, he'd only net you those 20.

Now obviously two things happen in March, there are upsets and sleepers. Last year the Butler Bulldogs and Va. Commonwealth Rams both made the Final Four, meaning whoever had Bradford Burgess (nobody) got 85 points and whoever had Shelvin Mack (nobody) would have wound up with 122 points. Meanwhile with VCU's upset of he Georgetown Hoyas, Austin Freeman, who was averaging 17.6 ppg, was held to just 10 in the first round loss.

How It Works

The draft works like any other. We use a snake draft and don't count any of the play-in games, so it all begins on that first Thursday.

We have eight guys and go 10 rounds, so 80 players are chosen. We all put in a modest amount of money, with second place getting their money back and first netting six shares.

Questions? Ping me and I'll be happy to answer. I don't want to reveal too much here, as our draft is tomorrow and I'm still forming my MATRIX.

I'll post draft results and updates throughout the tournament, but get on the phone now with your friends and schedule something. Like any other fantasy game, it adds an additional level of rooting interest to an already exciting month.