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2014 NCAA Tournament player draft

A tradition unlike any other.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

It’s time for our annual NCAA Tournament player draft. Here’s Amilian with the rules…

• We each pick 5 players in the NCAA tournament in a snake-style draft.
• The team with the most total points scored at the end of the tournament is the winner.
• Players on teams with a double digit seed get double points
• Points scored by players in the Final Four & Championship game are worth double points
• And yes, if you pick a player on a double digit seed and they play in the Final Four, his points are x4
• Losers buy the winner a $20 SI Cover ($6 per loser).

The draft order, chosen at random, is as follows:

1) Pistolsboy
2) Carson
3) Mason’s Brother (Nolan Cox)
4) Amilian
5) OKC Dave

Captain Pistols is on the clock!

Porter: Captain Pistols, I like that. Better than what Wilbon calls me.

I sort of have to go with McBuckets (Creighton), I guess. I swear, if Wisconsin beats them in the Sweet 16…let’s just say I will not be jumping around. By the way, how many white guys will play in that game? Actually, the real question is how many black guys will play in that game? The White Bball Pains Twitter account might have a meltdown. The degree to which I want a Wichita State-Creighton Final Four matchup (once we’re eliminated) is not healthy. All of the under-the-jersey t-shirts!

Amilian: Our division is filled with teams showcasing white-boy stars: McD at Creighton, Pangos at Gonzaga, Wisconsin’s top 3 scorers, Spangler at OU and of course Cox with the Pokes.

Quick rule note: The “First Round” does not count. So if you take T.J. Warren, you take a risk that he might not play in an eligible game.

Carson: Was there any doubt Kyle was drafting McBuckets? Wally Szczerbiak 2.0.

I really have no choice here: Jabari Parker (Duke). He has a real chance to pull a Carmelo and just go bonkers (like, second-half -Virginia-bonkers). The Midwest is frightening but they are on the weaker side of the region. I think they at least make the Elite 8.

And while I genuinely despise Duke come tournament time: Coach K’s smug, Wojo’s doing annoying Wojo things, the floor-slapping…but there’s no allegiances allowed here. Fill it up Jabari!

Nolan: Sorry, guys. I’m nursing a rather large SXSW hangover while trying to put together my draft board. With my first pick I’m going to take another freshman capable of taking his team to the final 4 and beyond. A guy who, with a solid performance in the tournament, might even jump Justin Bieber on my list of favorite Canadians. I’m going with Andrew Wiggins (Kansas).

Amilian: I’m not going to act like I’ve been studying New Mexico, and I know KU beat the Lobos earlier this year, but KU is a risk with Embiid out. I went with a Canadian last year (Olynyk) and his squad let me down in the second round. Oh, and Olynyk has much better hair than Wiggins so good luck with that pick.

I hate to say it, but I like Arizona’s path to the Final Four. I select Nick Johnson (Arizona) with my first pick and I won’t complain if I lose him after two tournament games as long as it’s Marcus performing back flips rather than (insert athletic Gonzaga player if one exists).

Dave is up with back-to-back picks…

OKCD: C.J. Fair (Syracuse) – this is an efficiency pick. He’s played at least 35 minutes in all but three of his team’s games this year, so he’s always on the floor. He’s good for 15 every time out, but he’s capable of getting into the upper 20s.

Russ Smith (Louisville) – yeah, I’ll take the guy that dropped 42 on James Dickey’s squad three days ago and has an axe to grind thanks to the selection committee’s decision to drop the Cardinals to a No. 4 seed. Russdiculous, welcome to the squad.

Nolan: Ugh. Who invited the stats guy? I doubt Jay, Digger, and Jalen give Nate Silver a call and invite him to join their bracket pool.

Porter: I doubt Jay and Jalen even call Digger.

Amilian: Forgot what I was getting myself into by inviting Dave into this thing. I’m surprised we didn’t get an efficiency graph along with each of those picks showing C.J. Fair and Russ Smith as dots in the top right separating themselves from the rest of the 338 starting players in the tournament.

I’m probably picking Virginia over Michigan State, which seems to be the unpopular pick for that potential Sweet 16 matchup, but there’s no star on that Cavalier squad. Given Izzo’s March Magic, I’ll take Gary Harris (Sparty).

OKCD: Not to worry, everyone. The NCAA Tournament is the annual reminder to every “stat guy” out there that the powers of Excel are nothing compared to the coin-flip nature of March Madness.

Carson: Speaking of, Digger has OSU in the title game. Did the former Fighting Irish coach start St. Patty’s early?

Nolan: “Having said that, I put together a coin-flip pivot table just to be safe. I can send it over to you guys when the draft is over.” –Dave

I’m going to bring the pain with this next pick. Major pain. So much pain that you’ll be staring out the window pane wondering what went wrong. Adreian Payne (Michigan State). That’s my guy.

(Kyle, can you forward this email to CBS? I feel like it could score me a writing gig. Thanks.)

Carson: You should try for TMZ, SXSW bureau reporter. I mean look at these gems:

I’m not sure if they’ll make the Final Four, but I’ll take Melvin Ejim (Iowa State). He falls out of bed and scores 18 points. Hilton will travel with the FunClones wherever they go. Their regional could be in Alaska and it would be Hilton Northwest.

Porter: Eff it, I’m going with the whitewash. It’s going to be like the ’66 title game but the opposite. And fantasy. So not really like the ’66 title game at all.

Nik Stauskas (Michgan) with my second — between Satuskas and Kate Upton’s boyfriend from last year, Michigan is going to light Duke on fire in the Sweet 16.

I’ll take Joe Harris (Virginia) with my third. I’m all in on Virginia. Which means they’ll probably lose to Coastal Carolina in the first round.

Amilian: Typical Porter. Taking the leading scorer on a No. 2 seed and prefacing it with an “eff it” to make it sound like he’s going out on a limb as if he’s taking a huge risk.

Carson: Phil Forte is offended, Kyle. He was on the phone with his agent, he thought he was coming off the board.

I’ll go back to the “teams I sports-hate” with the Florida Gators. They have a very clear path to the Final Four, I’m taking Scottie Wilbekin (Florida). Even though I loathe the Gators (lifelong Florida State fan) and even though he looks like the offensively challenged Thabo Sefolosha.

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Nolan: Virginia would be way cooler if they warmed up in quarter zip Brooks Brothers pullovers. I agree with Carson that Florida has a relatively easy path until they get to the Elite 8, but luckily I’m not a Thunder fan so I have no interest in drafting a Thabo Sefelosha doppelganger over the Gators’ leading scorer. I’m taking Casey Prather (Florida).

Amilian: You guys are going all in on my Gators. I love it! My No. 1 rule in the draft is make sure you draft a guy on your pick to win it all, and that’s Florida. Prather seems like the best choice because he averages the most points on the team, but he built that average toward the beginning of the season. He’s all yours, Nolo.

Michael Frazier II (Florida) is the third Gator off the board. Hopefully in the Final Four he can replicate his eleven 3-pointer game he had earlier this year.

Carson: I forgot Amilian liked the Gators. Gross. I have sources saying you dance like this at Groovy’s on the weekends:

OKCD: What’s better than having one player on your national championship winner? Having two players. I’ll take Montrezl Harrell (Lousiville). Yes, it’s dangerous to have two players from the same team, but I like the risk/reward ratio on this pick.

With my second pick, I will become the first person in recorded history to have a guy named Montrezl on the same team as a guy named Frank: Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin).

Amilian: The only region I’ve left out so far is the Midwest. Duke or Wichita State? My brain or my heart? For the sake of defending my title, I’m going with Rodney Hood (Duke) because I think Duke gets out of the region. That was tough because I really want to pull for Wichita State all the way through.

I need to figure out who my double-digit seeded player is going to be. I’m becoming less confident in my Cinderella pick every minute. To be continued.

Carson: Did Nolan give up and head to 6th Street? It is St. Patty’s…

Amilian: [Day 2]

Nolan called me at 3am hammered with an Irish accent and said he’ll be sleeping off a hangover so just give him Spangler with his next pick and move on.

Nolan: Just because I’m a young, single Irish Catholic guy living in Austin doesn’t necessarily mean I went out for St. Patty’s Day.

I’m going to take a guy on the No. 2 seed nobody is talking about. Darrun Hillard (Villanova) has scored double digit points in all but four games this year. He’s also only scored over 20 on four different occasions, but that type of consistency is going to help me out big time until Kevin Ollie’s UConn team knocks them out in the second round.

Carson: The funny part is I thought Matt was serious. With Nolan in Austin …

Did I mention how much I love the FunClones? Hoiberg’s team is a blast. I picked them to win the Big 12 Tournament, so I hopped on the bandwagon early. I’m concerned with how full the FunWagon is getting, but I’m still picking DeAndre Kane (Iowa State). I’ll gladly take another Big 12 first teamer who averages 17 ppg. And have I mentioned Hilton will be coming with him?

OKCD: My man-crush on DeAndre Kane – and really, that entire team – intensified in Kansas City. Their fans were beyond thrilled to beat Kansas on Friday night. I really hope the Clones have a deep run in them.

Porter: Can I just draft Wisconsin and get the points for whichever of their white guys scores the most in a given game?

No? Ok.

With my fourth pick I’ll take Ron Baker (Wichita State). Call me nuts (and I probably am) but I believe in Wichita State. The best thing that could have happened to a 34-0 team was a middle finger from the selection committee. It takes them away from the 40-0 narrative and puts them in “crap, we have to figure out how to beat three NBA guys in the second round and THEN we get the defending champs” mode.

Plus, Baker has tasted the Final Four before. He’ll add some solid experience to my squad.

With my last pick I’m going with the Belgian Bomber (no idea if anyone has ever called him that) Tyler Haws (BYU). He averages 23 a game and dropped 32 against Oregon earlier this year. Guess who BYU has in the first round? Yup.

The whitewash is complete, it is finished — I don’t even care what place I get.

Carson: You’re right, Wichita State is a No. 1 seed AND gets to play the “Nobody Believes In Us!!!” card. This is perfect for Gregg Marshall.

I have to go with a safe pick here: Aaron Gordon (Arizona). He’s not a volume scorer, but he’s second on the team in points and he’s Blake Griffin Lite. Everything from the dunks to the free throw percentage (43 percent. Woof.) is Blake-like.

But I’m most confident in Arizona making the Final Four of all the teams in the field.

Which probably means Marcus Smart will be doing backflips into the Sweet 16.

Nolan: With my last pick, I’m going to take a guy who just won the Big East tournament and knocked off McBuckets’ Creighton squad two out of three tries this year, including the Big East championship game. More importantly, this player also gives me the ability to say “Wow, that’s a bold strategy. Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for him.” I’m taking Bryce Cotton (Providence Friars).

Amilian: I wanted Cotton!! I think Providence can make a run and I was going to roll the dice on him.

Since he’s gone, I might as well give myself another reason to root against OU. Let’s go with Taylor Braun (North Dakota State). Probably a terrible pick but GO BISON!

OKCD: Too pressed to provide commentary, but I’ll take Kyle Anderson (UCLA) with my last pick.

Nolan: The more I think about it, with all the differing storylines each year, there’s no way this draft will ever not be fun.

Amilian: Now Kyle posts it for us to look back on and enjoy while every other PFB reader is now wondering why they dedicated time out of their day to read it.


Porter: McBuckets, Stauskas, Harris, Baker, Haws

Carson: Jabari, Ejim, Kane, Wilbekin, Gordon

Nolan: Wiggins, Payne, Prather, Hillard, Cotton

Amilian: Harris, Johnson, Frazier II, Hood, Braun

OKC Dave: Smith, Fair, Harrell, Kaminsky, Anderson

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