The Ultimate College Basketball Draft Pool

A few years ago, the merry band of fools that run this site put their heads together to try to come up with the ultimate college basketball contest – something would combine our love of college hoops, wagering, and proving who was the best human through silly contests.  We wanted something that would test the limits of our sanity and encompass the entirety of college basketball.  What was born from that impressive brainstorming session is the Ultimate College Basketball Draft Pool.  We’re here to share it with you, in the hopes that it sweeps the nation, and maybe we hear of some cool variations that our fellow degens come up with.

Basic Format

The basic idea of the pool is pretty simple.  As you can guess from the name, it is a draft.  This isn’t like a fantasy football draft where you’re drafting players to make your own super team of elite players that would never possibly play together.  College basketball is truly a team game, so we draft teams.  There are four of us in the pool, so it seems like a reasonable number of teams to draft would be 10 each, right?  That gives you 40 teams total, requiring you to go past the blue bloods, and into the next level of teams.  No chance.  How about 20 teams each?  Now we’re talking 80 teams.  We’re past the blue bloods.. past the new bloods.. we’re into the who bloods?  Still child’s play.   30 teams?  40 teams?  Do you even know how many Division I college basketball teams there are?  Well, we have a pretty good idea, and it’s more than that!  We went back and forth and settled on a nice round number of… 65!  Each person drafts SIXTY-FIVE teams.  That’s 260 of the (currently) 350 Division 1 teams.  Why not?  We’re talking the “do they even have any blood”s.  You haven’t lived until you’ve projected the MEAC conference standings in the middle of the summer.

Point System

The point system is loosely based on the now defunct Season Long Pool that was a pretty big contest on the internet in pre-covid days.  We’ve modified it somewhat for our pool, primarily to end the pool on Selection Sunday.  We end our pool on Selection Sunday because of what we are playing for, and the bigger and better wagers that will happen during March Madness.   But that is for a different post.  Here are the points that your teams can accrue:

Non-conference win = 1
Conference win = 2
Conference tournament win = 2
Conf. Reg Season/Tournament Champ = 5
Madness #1 seed = 8
Madness #2-#4 seed = 6
Madness #5-#8 seed = 4
Other seed = 2
KenPom Top 10 Off/Def = 11 – position

Each win in the regular season is a point.  A conference win is an extra point.  Conference tournament wins are two points each.  Winning (or sharing) the conference regular season championship is worth five points, as is winning the conference tournament.  Just making the NCAA Tournament is only worth two points.  But a 5-8 seed is worth an extra two points, a 2-4 seed is worth an extra four points, and a #1 seed is worth an extra six points.  We added bonus points for having a top 10 KenPom ranking in offense and/or defense.  The #1 KenPom offensive and defense teams get 10 points, then 9 points for #2, etc.  The KenPom points are only final as of the March Madness Selection Show.  As you can see, having the #1 offensive or defensive team is worth as much as a team winning both the regular season and conference tournament.  

2021-22 Draft Results

Now I know you are curious how we drafted.  More likely you just want to see how poorly we did.  Keep in mind that we do the draft throughout the summer.  This is before conference projections, and team previews.  This is even before all the transfers are finalized and non-conference schedules fully set.  Although, those schedules were pretty worthless again this year anyway.

For reference the teams in blue were the pre-season top 25.  Let’s get some thoughts from the drafters on how things went.

Sim: I’m not ashamed I lost last year.  I’m ashamed I didn’t order the spiciest diarrhea inducing hot wings made from just carolina reaper peppers for their “reward” since I took the giant “L” when I wasted my first two rounds last year on Kentucky and Duke.  Going into this year knowing I had the number one pick, I knew I needed to pick a team that had an easy conference schedule and was consistent, so I went with the obvious pick, Gonzaga. I also created a spreadsheet to track all the other donkey’s picks by conference so I knew when it was my turn to pick, I would have a small advantage vs. going in blind (ie. last year).  For round 2 and 3, I wanted to pick up strong backcourt teams as they tend to do well in conference play so I went with Alabama (round 2-pick 8) and Baylor (round 3-pick 9).  The transfer portal was strong this year so KenPom be damned on any guessing at “Four Factors” and when we conducted our draft, ESPN was still a shit-show at prognostication on who they expected to wind up in the Big Dance.  Rounds 4 – 10 were “best available” while rounds 11-16 I tried to grab a few sleepers.  Still too early to tell, but Texas Tech (round 11), Missippi State (round 12) and Oral Roberts (round 13) may serve me well this year.

Berger:  Last year I ended up with 3 of the final 4 teams (Zags, Baylor and UCLA), but still didn’t win.  This year I focused a bit more on getting better teams in the power 5s vs chasing so many lower-level teams trying to win their conference (although this was still a focus).  I was fine ending up with Purdue and Ohio State in my first 5 picks.  Last year, I would have not done that.  I also focused my early non power 5 picks on teams that could still make the tourney as an at large (Co St, Louisiana Tech).  Overall I was pretty happy with my draft, and given what we know now…am very happy to have taken LSU even though I already had Arkansas and Tennesse already.    

Dom: Do you remember the scene in The Jerk when Navin R Johnson (Steve Martin) is stumbling around the mansion mad because he was getting kicked out, and he kept saying “I don’t need ANYTHING… nothing else. I have EVERYTHING I need right here. I don’t need anyth… I need THIS!” And he picks up a lamp. That was one way of describing how my first round pick went, when I was able to snag my fourth-favorite basketball team, the University of Michigan Wolverines. I never had hoops season tickets when I went to school at U-M.  I was a hockey and football fan.  Growing up I rooted for the Glen Rice team, but my March Madness teams were always Villanova, North Carolina, and West Virginia.  But when last year’s champ was sitting there with 100% confidence he would have Michigan fall into his lap, there was a voice that was calling me, saying “you gotta do it… He will be on full tilt!!”  And Sim was right.  This had to be done.  “I don’t need ANYTHING els… I need MICHIGAN!” Sadly the rest of my top four ended up being poorly executed after that.  While I did like Texas, I found myself flailing a bit to grab the next big thing from the American and A-10 conference, since Memphis and St Bonnie’s could both finish with a conference title and a 4 seed if things all broke right.  That’s not playing out at all like I’d hoped. Maybe I am a jerk.

Jaimie: I drafted last because I won last year (humble brag).  I wasn’t unhappy with that position.  I felt like first was a big advantage with a no-brainer pick.  If you look at the point system, Gonzaga, the big-fish-in-a-tiny-pond, is almost certain to earn the most points by destroying the WCC.  I figured at #4, I could overpay for Michigan and be happy.  Three of the drafters went to the University of Michigan, and I’m the one who never left Ann Arbor.  When Dom stole Michigan at #3 I almost lost my mind.  It was such an egregious pick, just meant to hurt me.  It certainly did.  In the end, he saved me from myself, allowing me to pick Villanova and Kansas, which both look like they will end up with more points than Michigan.  I still think Michigan will figure things out by conference tournament time, but they aren’t going to be worth a first round pick in this pool.  I was pretty happy with my top four until Houston lost Sasser and Mark.  That was a crushing loss.   

Sim:  We absolutely colluded to have Dom pick Michigan and set in motion what I like to call, the “Jaimie Tantrum of 2021”.  Normally I don’t like seeing grown men cry, take their ball and go immediately home, but this shit was epic.  We all knew what was going to happen and still pushed through for the desired effect that was so graciously granted to us by Sir Jaimie.

Berger:  As we got deeper in the draft I was just taking flyers on the lower conferences.  The 2 points per conference and tournament wins can generate a lot of points so I was looking for teams I felt could get to 10 wins in conference and maybe would have a chance in the conference tourney.  South Alabama, UNI, James Madison, Monmouth were some examples.  I also started to grab some of the power 5 lower ranked teams, but who had upside (Colorado, Miami, Utah, and Marquette).  As the draft started to wind down, I started wondering if I should try and leave teams I liked to get them in my bottom 10 since we have that side bet.  I knew that I really liked Utah Valley, Valpo and VMI as end of draft teams, but do I take them in the early 50s or hold out and hope they would be there in the final 10?  I ended up taking all of them before my final 10, which may end up costing me on the final 10 bet.  I love that dynamic at the end though.  Do you take the teams you feel are the best for the overall bet or do you leave them and try to snag them later as part of your final 10.  

Dom:  Over the summer I prided myself on listening to Greg “Hoops” Petersen on his podcast (now titled “Coast To Coast Hoops”), whether mowing the lawn or walking the dogs, or just winding down after work. And I prided myself on being the picker of mid round sleepers, finding the advantage through transfer portal moves between the 5th and the 25th pick, and dominating this draft.  And largely I think I did just that.  Grabbing Auburn in the 6th round was my favorite pick of the draft, after Walker Kessler has announced he was transferring. Getting a conference-dominant UAB squad at 8, Southern Cal (who only lost one of the Mobley brothers) at 10, Ohio (losing Jason Preston but gaining Mark Sears) at 11, Indiana and a new attitude coaching staff with maybe the best player in the B1G returning in Trayce Jackson-Davis, and a slew of senior led teams with strong individual talent like BYU, Chattanooga, and Utah St.  My bigger disappointments include Florida at 13, Bowling Green at 27, Mercer at 31, and LIU Brooklyn at 34.  But in the latter half I picked up solid plays like Delaware, Boston U, and Dunk City FGCU right after Kevin Samuel transferred from TCU. I’m happy with my Last 10 side bet picks, though a little bummed that I didn’t wait on Seattle to fall, and honestly thrilled I got DePaul at number 57. All in all, decent but my top 5 is killing me (PS just kidding about Michigan… they’re my favorite).

Jaimie: After the first several rounds of top-tier teams, I started trying to target the teams that I thought had a good chance to win their conference.  Belmont is always a good choice there.  I also went for Loyola-Chicago, San Diego State, Vermont, and South Dakota State.  I was able to slip in a relatively late pick on Arizona that is looking pretty great now in January.  After that it was a lot of hoping with teams like Irvine, Montana, Toledo, Grand Canyon, etc.  As of right now I have the latest top-25 pick with Providence.  I also have the worst pick of the draft with Prairie View A&M in round 25.  As of this writing they are 0-10!  After this date last year, however, they won 15 straight and went undefeated in the SWAC.  Hopefully they can find some magic again this year.

So, what do you think?  Who drafted the best?  Who was terrible?  What was the best/worst pick?  Let us know in the comments.  Also, stay tuned for standings updates, and a post about what we’re playing for!