There are a lot of things to love about this time of year, but one of my favorite traditions is also one of the newest on my annual docket: The NCAA Tourney Draft.
The draft is pretty simple. Myself and three of my ESPN.com colleagues — this year my competitors were Myron Medcalf, Jason King and John Gasaway — pick teams one by one in the hopes of developing the strongest NCAA tournament portfolio. The rules (a snake draft, with scoring similar to your average Tournament Challenge itself) are pretty simple, and the strategy is basic to anyone who's participated in even the most remedial of fantasy sports draft formats. But it's also a lot of fun.
On Tuesday afternoon, the four of us convened with our chat moderator Emily and a host of variously approving and disapproving commenters and completed the 2013 draft. The first pick went to Myron, who selected Louisville, and we were off from there. Here's a look at each team's portfolio (teams were drafted in the order listed):
Myron: Louisville, Georgetown, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, UNLV, Colorado St, Bucknell, Temple, NC State, Minnesota, South Dakota, Valpo, Akron, Iona, Northwestern State, Southern, James Madison
Jason: Duke, Gonzaga, Miami, Saint Louis, VCU, Arizona, Kansas State, Colorado, Wichita State, Iowa State, Davidson, Villanova, Oklahoma, Montana, Florida Gulf Coast, LIU Brooklyn, NC A&T
John: Indiana, Kansas, Michigan State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Creighton, Missouri, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Saint Mary's, Illinois, Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss, Boise State, New Mexico State, Western Kentucky, Liberty
Eamonn: Florida, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Marquette, Memphis, San Diego State, UCLA, Cal, Belmont, Oregon, Butler, Cincinnati, La Salle, Harvard, Pacific, Albany
I have to say, I like my group. I also like John's. I did not like Myron's. In my view, he started fine but started reaching pretty quickly into his draft, and actually took two first-round opponents (Temple and NC State) with his eighth- and ninth-round picks. Myron immediately regretted this decision, and his draft never really recovered.
There is good news for Myron, though. The national champion is awarded so many points that it is very difficult to draft the correct national champion and lose, a fact vindicated by my Kentucky Wildcats-fueled (and otherwise nondescript) win in the inaugural 2012 edition. Myron had the first pick and chose Louisville, the consensus favorite and the smart money pick (that defense really is that good), and if the Cards come through it probably won't matter what the rest of our lists looked like.
Finally, my gut view on our selections was supported by none other than commenter Patrick in Seattle, who crunched some quick numbers after everyone was drafted and descended upon the chat like a nerdy Archangel Gabriel: "FINAL MATH ALERT! Per Kenpom's Log5 numbers, John's 17 picks should be expected to win 17.38 games, Eamonn's picks to win 16.71 games, Jason's to win 15.34 games, and Myron 13.57 games." John and I are essentially co-favorites, give or take, and Jason isn't quite as far behind as Myron. Which is basically what I thought.
But enough about what I thought. What do you think? Who drafted best? Or worse? Beyond sheer enjoyment, one added bonus to drafting NCAA tournament teams in this manner is that it offers a slightly different way to look at the bracket; when you're drafting on an S-Curve, value comes into clearer focus. So, who won?