As you may or may not know, a week ago -- just after the bracket was announced -- I and my colleagues Myron Medcalf, Jason King and John Gasaway gathered for our second-annual ESPN.com NCAA Tourney Draft. Unlike the usual bracket structure, the object of the game is to build a portfolio of teams and then earn an increasing number of points the further teams progress in the tournament. It's pretty straightforward, and always very fun, stuff.
After two rounds, where do we stand? I'll tell you where: On the precipice of destroying the game altogether.
OK, so I'm being overdramatic. But we do have a pretty remarkable situation on our hands. After just two rounds, Myron's entire portfolio has been wiped out ... save the No. 1 overall pick, Louisville. During the draft, after Medcalf took first-round opponents Temple and NC State back-to-back (and after we finished making fun of him for it), Gasaway made a valid point: The rest of your draft can be really bad, but if you have the national champion in your ranks, you're still in awfully good shape. Last year, I got the No. 1 pick. I took Kentucky. That was pretty much the end of the suspense.
Then again, the rest of my teams weren't eliminated after just the round of 32.
Myron Medcalf: Louisville,
Georgetown, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, UNLV, Colorado St*, Bucknell, Temple*, NC State, Minnesota*, South Dakota State, Valpo, Akron, Iona, Northwestern State, Southern, James Madison+
Jason King: 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 Gasaway: 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 Brennan: Florida, Ohio State, Michigan,
Wisconsin, Marquette, Memphis*, San Diego State*, UCLA, Cal*, Belmont, Oregon, Butler*, Cincinnati, La Salle*+, Harvard*, Pacific, Albany
Key: Players listed in draft order, teams listed in order of round drafted, strikethrough denotes elimination, asterisks denote number of tourney proper wins before elimination, pluses denote wins in the First Four
Scoring: Scoring is simple and straightforward: Rounds 1 and 2: 1 point; Round 3: 2 points; Round 4: 4 points; Round 5: 8 points; Round 6: 16 points; Champion: 32 points. (Yes, we're assigning a point to the winners of the play-in rounds. All part of the drafting strategy.)
We all made fun of Medcalf's draft at the time, but I don't think any of us could have anticipated that he would lose everyone but Louisville on the first weekend. And now we will make fun of him some more! (And yes, we'll let him defend himself in this space before the tournament is over.) Really, a good portion of it is just flat-out bad luck. The two most shocking upsets of the tournament came against Myron's second (Georgetown) and third round (New Mexico) picks. He picked wrong on the two Pac-12-inflicted No. 12/No. 5 upsets (Oklahoma State, UNLV). The end result is pretty straightforward: Medcalf needs a Louisville national title to win.
There are only so many teams in the bracket, and King, Gasaway and I have reaped the benefits of Medcalf portfolio's carnage. King jumped on the Florida Dunk Coast bandwagon in the third-to-last round and has been laughing all the way to the bank. But losing two of your top four picks before the Sweet 16 isn't ideal. Gasaway is in enviable shape, with all four of his top picks still in the running (and all of four of them potential Final Four and arguably even national title candidates).
As for me, well, I'm feeling good. Not only did I steal a First Four point with La Salle's win over Boise State, but the Explorers kept knocking people off. When their upsets of Kansas State and Ole Miss put them into the Sweet 16, they left me with a surprise six teams still in the hunt. And I still have my top three, all of which could very easily get to the Final Four (and let's not discount Marquette here, either).
Then again, it might not matter. Save Medcalf, Louisville. You're his only hope.