Buck Back Gack

We had our annual Buck Back draft the other day, and I think I gagged big time.

Long-time readers may recall that I play in an alternative approach to NCAA pools called the Buck Back.  Rather than trying to forecast the results of every game, eight of us put in eight bucks each, select eight teams in a serpentine draft, and then get $1 — i.e., a buck back — every time one of our teams wins. The Buck Back during March Madness is now a time-honored tradition.

This year the draft was the hardest ever, because it’s impossible to have great confidence that any team is going to do well in the tournament.  Every school has struggled at some point during the season, and every team has weaknesses.

I drafted fourth, and I look at my teams and wonder whether I’ll win even a few games, much less break even.  My first pick was Indiana, which stumbled to the finish line, and my second pick was Michigan, which also struggled in the last half of the season.  Both have talented players, but which teams will show up — the early season world-beaters, or the battered squads that limped home?  My third-round pick was Memphis, which plays in one of the weakest conferences in the country, and my fourth selection was Wichita State, which has to start the Tournament against a tough Pitt team.  My later round picks — San Diego State, Cincinnati, Montana, and Iona — all are question marks.

So I sit, waiting for the Big Dance to start in earnest tomorrow, and I wonder whether my entire Buck Back draft was a choke.  I’ll bet I’m not the only one who feels that way — and I can’t wait for the Tournament to start.

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Epic Fail In The Buck Back

Norfolk State’s epic victory over a shell-shocked Missouri basically guaranteed that I will have my worst Buck Back performance ever.  Although my picks have been dismal and the results embarrassing, it’s impossible not to enjoy — a little bit — a huge underdog’s win, especially when they are led by a guy named Kyle O’Quinn on the day before St. Patrick’s Day.

In any case, this classic footage from Monty Python aptly captures the state of my Buck Back team.

The Buck Back Is Back

When NCAA Tournament time arrives, that means it’s time for the Buck Back — the greatest pool in the history of organized sports.

Well, okay — that may be an overstatement, but the Buck Back is a lot of fun.  Just recruit seven friends who like college basketball and don’t take things too seriously, ask everybody kick 8 bucks into the kitty, and then have a serpentine draft of all of the teams on the 64 lines of the NCAA Tournament grid.  The eight players will end up with eight teams (we don’t count the four play-in games).  Each time one of your teams wins a tournament game you get a buck back — hence the pool’s name.

I’m not a gambler, and I never enter the standard NCAA pools or on-line bracket contests.  But I can spare 8 bucks to participate in the draft session, where insults and self-deprecating humor rule the day, and then follow my teams as they try to make their way in the Big Dance.  This year I drafted seventh and ended up with Missouri, Baylor, San Diego State, Gonzaga, Southern Mississippi, Ohio U., Davidson, and Loyola (Maryland).  I’m a bit skeptical of my roster of teams, but by drafting Loyola I at least ensured that, if my beloved Buckeyes gag and lose their first-round game, I get a buck out of it.

Let the Buck Back begin!