Last year I wrote a bit about the Buck Back, the weird, hybrid pool and fantasy-type draft we have when the NCAA Basketball Tournament begins. The linked post explains the rules, to the extent they exist. Basically eight people put in eight bucks and select all of the teams in the NCAA Tournament through a serpentine draft, and each time one of your teams wins you win a buck back.
This year I drew the ace from the deck and got the first pick — which is good and bad. You get to pick what you consider to be the best team — or at least the team most likely to win it all, given the draw — but then don’t draft again until the 16th selection. I chose Kansas for my first pick, and then followed two simple rules for my remaining picks: (1) choose the best available school, preferably from a tough conference, that has some prior NCAA experience; and (2) try to balance your teams to end up with two teams in each bracket. I did a decent job following the first rule, but failed miserably on the second. In order, my draft was Kansas (pick 1), Texas A&M (pick 16), Xavier (pick 17), Texas (pick 32), Florida (pick 33), Washington (pick 48), Murray State (pick 49) and East Tennessee State (pick 64). (When you draft first, your last pick is the last team left.) I ended up with 1 team in the Midwest regional, 1 in the South regional, and 3 each in the West and East regionals, which makes me uncomfortable.
In retrospect, I’m a bit skeptical of my drafting approach, but this year’s draft was complicated by the number 4 seed given to Purdue. With the gut-wrenching season-ending injury to Robbie Hummel, and E’Twan Moore coming up gimpy in the Minnesota game — a game where Purdue was able to put up only 11 points in the first half — Buck Back participants were very skeptical of the Boilermakers’ ability to win even one buck by beating Siena. The Boilers fell all the way down to the 24th pick whereas, if you were picking strictly by seeding, a number 4 seed would be picked no later than number 16.
I should know early whether my Buck Back team blows. Florida plays the first game in the tournament tomorrow, with a 12:20 p.m. tip, and 6 of my 8 teams play Thursday games.