The 2015 Palestra Back March Madness Fantasy Shootout

April 8 – UPDATE!

Well, we’ve reached the end. Every point has been scored, accounted for, and triple checked, so I can now announce our official final standings. Check out the spreadsheet for all of the details, but here below are your final results:

final standings


Our winner is, sigh, my father, who has yet to stop talking about it and had guaranteed victory as early as the Sweet Sixteen. He rode Frank the Tank and Travis Trice to the big prize. Congrats to him and the rest of our top 5 finishers. I’ll be in touch with you individually to discuss payment (though for the most part, I’ll pay you however you paid me).

I hope that everyone enjoyed the Shootout. All of the feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone agreed it was a step above a bracket, for the real basketball fans watching the tourney. I will definitely run it again next year, making any necessary tweaks to make things run as smooth as possible. I hope you all come back next year and bring some friends too.

Speaking of which, I hope that you clicked around my site here while participating in the Shootout and I hope this won’t be your last visit to Palestra Back. I’ll keep posting tons of fun things throughout the NBA season and into the summer months. If you like what you see, bookmark the page/click the follow button/LIKE Palestra Back on Facebook/tell everyone you’ve ever met/go on to the roof of your home or office and scream about how much you enjoy this basketball blog. Any of those would be great. 

If you’ve got any questions (Shootout related or otherwise), reach out to me by emailing or on Twitter (@OnTheShaneTrain).

Thanks for playing and congrats to the winners! A special shoutout to Evan Gallagher, who deserves second place for sending along the backbones of that monster of a spreadsheet. 

March 30 – UPDATE!

We’ve reached the Final Four. Only a handful of hopefuls still have a shot at the cash. Head over to the spreadsheet to see if you’re one of them (I am!).

Before we move on, I have to apologize to our former leader, Daddy Swag. He’d been winning after each round so far, and now it seems obvious why. When I went to write this update, I was curious who from his team had contributed. It was then that I noticed his total was including 57 points for Providence’s LaDonte Henton. Other Henton owners will remember the Friars losing their first game and LaDonte scoring 18. Well, one slip of my chubby little fingers on the keyboard resulted in Mr. Swag receiving points from Jerian Grant (J60 in the sheet) instead of Henton (J69). I feel terrible for giving him so much hope throughout the tournament and not checking sooner, though I am glad I caught this mistake now rather than post-tourney. I will absolutely be going back through everyone in contention’s totals to make sure all is well and if you have the time, give your team and anyone you’re battling with for position a second glance.

With that out of the way, there are only a few teams capable of winning the big money. Here’s how each can do so:

(Others can win money, this is just the people who can still technically finish 1st)

The Leaders

Ben Fagan: 607 points, Jahlil Okafor (Duke) remaining

Evan Gallagher: 602 points, Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin) remaining

Ben probably should have been our leader earlier thanks to the clerical error, but he now correctly finds himself atop the standings. Our top two are locked in a battle of big men. Okafor has a better chance at playing two games, but Frank is the better bet to score points.

The Leg-Up

The Blogfather: 591 points, Kaminsky and Travis Trice (MSU) remaining

Our highest ranked person with two players remaining just happens to be my dad, who is already planning what he’ll do with the winnings. It’s not that simple. If Wisconsin and Sparty both lose, I don’t think he can keep up. Two games by one player is just as good as one game from two players. Don’t tell my dad, though. He’s been circling items catalogs and ads like a 6-year-old leading up to Christmas.

The One Man Longshots

Team Palestra Back: 563 points, Karl-Anthony Towns (UK) remaining

Walkup the Leaderboards: 530 points, Quinn Cook (Duke) remaining

The Girlfriend: 511 points, Denzel Valentine (MSU) remaining

Are Mr. Walkup and The (read: my) Girlfriend eliminated? No, not technically. They just need their remaining guys to go Wilt Chamberlain next weekend.

I, on the other hand, am totally still in this thing. When KAT goes 41-39 and leads Kentucky to the title, I’ll be counting all of your money.

The Miracles

Colin: 542 points, Okafor and Trice remaining

He doesn’t feel out of it, sitting in 9th place with his two guys left, but I’m not sure there’s a scenario when Okafor and Trice both score enough for Colin to pass the Okafor and Trice owners ahead of him. Though he’s technically still afloat with no one ahead of him owning both of those guys.

Andrew Korz: 472 points, Kaminsky and Valentine remaining

Chris Bodkin: 400 points, Towns and Valentine remaining

Again, not officially eliminated, but they’d need a weird Space Jam virus to take down half the players this weekend to be in the conversation.

The Booker

Kevin Carson: 384 points, Devin Booker (UK) and Trice remaining

My favorite scenario remaining involves Devin Booker channeling Klay Thompson, making 18 threes in back-to-back games and leading Kevin’s team from 33rd (out of 34th) into the money.

And that’s it. No one else can finish first. That being said, let’s look at the rest of field.

The Coattail Riders

Daddy Swag, Mike Herron

Both currently sit in the money, but behind someone else who has the same players remaining. So even though they can’t take the big prize, they can sneak into a decent payday.

The Walking Dead

Everyone else. 

People who know a lot about hoops? Out.

People who know nothing about hoops? Out. (Someone chose Iowa State’s Georges Niang because he went to the same college as former New England Patriot Ellis Hobbs. Can’t make that up).

Old friends, new friends, friends of friends? Out.

People as young as 20 and old as 56? Out.

Guy with two teams?  BOTH OUT.

MOM?!? Sadly, out.

Better luck next year everyone.


March 23, 9 AM- UPDATE!

The first weekend has come and gone. Is your team still in the hunt? CLICK HERE for the spreadsheet.

Points Leader: Just as he was at the end of round one, Daddy Swag is our leader. He still has his top four seeds, but that’s all he’s got.

Most Players Remaining: Five teams moved seven players into the second weekend. That group is led by Gabe Armando who sits in 6th place.

My Team: I’ve got you all where I want you. My team is like a champion racehorse, just waiting to make my move. I am one of the people with 7 players left.

No eliminated seeds today. 1-8 and 11 are all still alive. 

March 22, 10 AM – UPDATE!

Three days down. Today we’ll separate the contenders and pretenders.

The spreadsheet has been rigged to now update live as I plug in the scores. CLICK HERE to keep tabs on your team throughout today and the rest of the tourney.

Highlights through yesterday:

Points Leader:  Ryan Oakes with a narrow one point lead, begging for an Iowa victory today.

Most Players Remaining: 5 people still have 8, but that’s a misleading stat. Many of those players just haven’t played their 2nd round game yet. What is important is how many players you advance to next weekend.

My Team: A Butler victory late last night would have been huge for me, but I’m still totally going to win this thing.

As I did yesterday, let’s take a look at some of the seeds that are now completely eliminated, and the best or worst you could have picked.

Best 10 seed: More than 73% of our players went with D’Angelo Russell, and they were right to do so. He was the only selected 10 seed player to win a game and had 28 in the first round.

Worst 10 seed: Tyler Kalinowski, usually a big scorer, battled foul trouble and managed only 5 points.

Best 14 seed: Nearly as popular as Russell, RJ Hunter came up big for most of us. Hot shooting helped, but it was the second game that made him really worth it.

Worst 14 seed: Well, the second game didn’t do much for Hunter’s teammate, Ryan Harrow. He didn’t even play in their first game. I want to feel sorry for the 2 people who chose Harrow over Hunter, but it’s your money. Do your homework!

March 21, 11 AM – UPDATE!

The first round is in the books and there was some serious late movement at the end of last night.


First Round Highlights:

Points Leader: The man choosing to be called Daddy Swag made a LATE charge. His top 3 picks all played last night and scored 15+.

Most Players Remaining: 5 people still have 10 players left. Today and tomorrow will be the big days for eliminations.

My Team: I’m among that group with 10 remaining, but behind on points. I still have my top 8 seeds alive. HOPE!

Several seed lines are now totally dead. Here’s the best and worst picks you could have made for those lines.

Best 9 Seed: The 8s went 4-0 against the 9s, leaving some promising prospects heading home. The top scorers on the 9 line were D’Angelo Harrison (St. John’s) and LeBryan Nash (Ok State). If you were one of the 10 people who didn’t have either of them, you fell a little behind.

Worst 9 seed: A tie between Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte and LSU’s Jordan Mickey with 12 points each. Not too bad.

Best/Worst 12 seed: The trendy 12 over 5 upset didn’t happen this year and every player picked from a 12 seed scored between 12 and 16 points. This line didn’t make or break anyone’s roster.

Best 13 seed: The nation’s leading scorer, Tyler Harvery, did his job. He put up 27 points in a loss. Harvard’s Wesley Saunders was right behind with 26.

Worst 13 seed: Only one person, Chris Bodkin, believed in the UC-Irvine Anteaters and it came back to bite him. The late-no call by the refs sent Will Davis home with only 14 points. Not a bad day, but well behind Harvey and Saunders.

Best 15 seed: CJ Bradshaw from Belmont scored a valiant 25 against one of the nation’s top defenses.

Worst 15 seed: Oh no. Chris Bodkin burned by another low seed. He went on a limb with New Mexico State’s Daniel Mullings and the limb snapped after a 7 point effort. Mullings teammate Pascal Siakam wasn’t much better for his owners. He only managed 8.

Best 16 seed: Rodney Pryor from Robert Morris was the standout, notching 23.

Worst 16 seed: A lot of swings and misses. The biggest miss was the six people who went with Lafayette’s Nick Lindner. He only managed 3 points in a blowout loss.

Worst 16 seed:

March 20, 11:30 AM – UPDATE!

The spreadsheet has been updated to include all of yesterday’s games. Click HERE to view it.

Some highlights from the first day of action:

Best Pick:  Has to be Gabe Armando as the only person to snatch up Bryce Alford and his 27 points.

Worst Pick: Chris Bodkin tried to stray from the crowd by picking a different Ole Miss player than the crowd. He went with Jarvis Summers, who took 8 shots, missed all of them, didn’t score, and is out.

Points Leader: Eddie Lockhart is out to a fast start, but he had 11 players already play…and 7 of them lost.

Most Players Remaining: That would be @seandoherty, who yes, submitted his Twitter handle as his team name. Gotta plug that #brand.

Dead Last: My uncle, who never really understood the rules and submitted his team well after the deadline. KARMA.

My Team: I’m glad you all participated, but I’m clearly going to win. Kellen Dunham is the secret weapon, but Karl Towns is carrying Team PB to victory. Also nice to have luck on my side (Robert Morris guard Lucky Jones).

Also check out the bottom of the spreadsheet where I ran “ownership” percentages. Your best bet for winning this thing is having unique players succeed. D’Angelo Russell is great, but everyone has him. If you don’t, root against him. If you’re one of the Davidson backers or the only person with a Georgetown player or one of our members of Nova Nation, that could be the difference.

Good luck in Day Two.

Oh, and I’ll be tweeting occasionally using #PalestraBackFantasyShootout. Join me.

March 19 -UPDATE!

Rosters are in and can be found at the link below. If you see any problems with your roster (or the formulas dealing with your team’s points if you really want to dive in), send me an email and I’ll fix it.


Today’s scores have yet to be added, but I’ll do so soon. Tomorrow morning at the latest.

I’ll do my best to keep this as updated as I possibly can. I’ll update the link here and send out emails to anyone involved as often as I can.

The section at the bottom calculating how many people picked each player is still a work in progress.

We’ve got 34 teams in for a total pit of $680. Payouts will be as such:

Winner: $410

2nd Place: $120

3rd Place: $80

4th Place: $50

5th Place: $20 (Hey! You got your money back!)

Any questions? Drop an email.


I can’t wait to fill out a bracket. As soon as the 68th team slides out of Greg Gumbel’s mouth, I’ll put pen to paper and start figuring out what I think about the match-ups. Without a doubt, this is one of the best parts of March Madness.

It is not, however, the most fun way to have a little tourney fun. Bracket contests can’t even sniff fantasy drafts in terms of excitement. There’s so many more levels of knowledge and luck and strategy that add up to such an enjoyable experience.

The problem with a fantasy draft is its limitations. There is only room for 10-15 entrants in a good fantasy set-up…until now.


Here’s how it works:

You pick one player who plays for a number one seed, one from a number two seed, one from a number three seed, and on and on (all the way through the 16 seeds). You’ll have 16 total players. Whoever’s 16 guys score the most total points (for scoring and tracking purposes, this means just points, no rebounds or any other stat) is the winner.

It’s simple, yet so SO intriguing. Should you pick someone you think will last several rounds or go for guys who get shots up and will score more points per game? That’s the decision you’ll need to make…16 times.

UPDATE: To make everyone’s life easier, I (along with a lot of help from the great Evan Gallagher…he did almost all of this) put together this spreadsheet that features the points per game averages for top players on ALL 68 teams. That should help!

SECOND UPDATE: If you want more than just numbers, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman ranked all 340 starters in this year’s tournament. Plenty of stats and info to help with your picks.

Think you can assemble the best team? Put your money where your mouth is.

Because, yes, money is involved. $20 per entrant. You can send your payment via PayPal/credit or debit card by clicking below or by sending your payment to from your PayPal account. (UPDATE: When you pay via PayPal, it will prompt you to send $21. The extra buck covers PayPal fees.)

Once I have a grasp on the number of entries, I will layout how the winnings will be distributed.

Buy Now Button

(If you don’t seen the button above, try refreshing your browser. Still having issues? Drop me an email and I’ll help you out. Worried about clicking weird  “Buy Now” buttons on the internet? I know, weird. Trust me, it actually works!)

If you know me personally, we can discuss other forms of payment (Venmo, Cash, etc.), but I will not be more lenient with you. No entries without payment will be allowed to participate.

To make things easier for me to keep track, you can send in your entry any time between now and tip-off of the first game in the round of 68 (Thursday, March 19 at noon Eastern).

To enter send the following information to

Your Full Name (First and Last)

Entry Name (optional, if you don’t want your name to appear on this site, provide a nickname, Twitter handle, or other APPROPRIATE name for your entry)

Proof of Payment (a screenshot of your PayPal payment will do)


Once the bracket has been announced, I will update this post and email anyone who has already entered, reminding them to select their teams.

Good luck!

Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. 

If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to

2 thoughts on “The 2015 Palestra Back March Madness Fantasy Shootout

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