The March Madness Draft – An Alternative to the Bracket

March Madness is upon us. Due to the NCAA Basketball Tournament “First Round” (commonly referred to as play-in games) starting on Tuesday, everyone is frantically trying to fill out and submit their brackets for their office pools today. I’ll be filling out a bracket or two this year as I always do because it’s fun, but over the past handful of years I’ve spent less time on my brackets and more time preparing for something different: a March Madness draft.

The basic idea is that each person involved drafts a group of teams in a fantasy-style draft and then receives a point for each time their team wins a game.  The person with the most points wins.

More specifically:

  • Figure out how many teams you’ll each draft.  Take 68 and divide it by the total number of people participating and round the answer down.  Generally this works great with 8 – 12 people but any number can work.  If you have 8 people, 68 divided by 8 is 8.5, so you’ll each draft 8 teams.
  • Randomly pick a draft order out of a hat or using a spreadsheet.
  • Conduct the draft as a snake draft, meaning that the person who picks last in the first round picks first in the second round.  So the draft order for an 8 team league would go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8…
  • After each game the owner of the winning team is awarded a point.  68 games = 67 total points.  Yes, play-in games are included, which makes for some interesting draft strategy.
  • The person with the most points at the end of the tourney wins!

This year my business partners and I decided to do one of these for our company.  Our draft is Tuesday afternoon.  In years past I’ve done one with my friends as well.  In many ways I like this more than the traditional bracket.  You get to enjoy a draft just like in a fantasy league (which, let’s be real, is the most fun part of the entire season), and then you have a clear list of teams to root for.  Unlike in a bracket where after the first round you end up rooting for all sorts of crazy scenarios, you can simply root for your list of teams to win.  I always become big fans of the teams I pick, similar to how you become a big fan of someone you draft in a fantasy league.

Maybe the most enjoyable aspect of the tournament – the upset – is far more entertaining because there’s always a head-to-head matchup in every game.  Instead of everyone’s bracket getting screwed, you have one person who has one of their top seeds lose and another who has one of their bottom seeds win.

I’m posting this Monday evening, which gives you ample time to round up a group of friends and give the draft a try in the next 24 hours or so 🙂  Once you try it I bet you’ll be hooked like I am!

9 comments on The March Madness Draft – An Alternative to the Bracket

  1. Dale says:

    Adam… ever think of doing a fantasy league amongst us who met in the blogosphere? I think it’d be fun. Some bragging rights for sure.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      I’d love to do that Dale, it would be awesome. I’m game for doing a football league this fall. I’ll shoot you an email when the time gets closer and we can plan it out.

  2. Doug says:

    I am setting up this type of league this year…do you have a website you use or do you keep score yourselves ?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Hey Doug –

      I don’t know of any website to keep score…we do it old-school with a Google Spreadsheet 🙂 At least there’s only one point awarded per game so it’s much easier to score than traditional brackets where you’re scoring every game for everyone involved. Would make a great little web app though! Certainly if you find anything let me know.

      Good luck!

      – Adam

  3. Doug says:

    That’s what I was thinking…I will keep my eyes open

  4. Ethan says:


    I have been doing the march madness draft with 8 people for the past 4 years, and you are right, it becomes way more exciting than any brackets that I fill out! We actually had our draft tonight and I was googling to see if there was any online variations of this draft style march madness league when I came upon your blog….
    Good luck with your teams!


    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks for the comment Ethan. Ironically this is the first year I haven’t put a draft together, just didn’t have the time. My friends and I are just doing a bracket but I would like to bring the draft back next year. Best of luck with your teams!

  5. tyler says:

    Adam, I’ve been doing this with my friends since 2001. It is without a doubt more entertaining. We do scoring a bit differently. Round 1 is 1 pt, Round 2 is pts and the points keep increasing as the rounds go. You also get points for upsets. If a 12 beats a 5, that team earns 1 pt for the win and 7 for the upset. It makes for interesting draft strategies. I just built a site for this. You can check it out at

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