UPDATED: The 2nd Annual Palestra Back March Madness Fantasy Shootout

March Madness attracts so much attention from casual fans for a variety of reasons. Sure, the excitement and emotion are nearly unmatched in the world of sports, but what really gets everyone juices pumping is those brackets. Everyone wants to enter and win their pool, and really, everyone has the chance to do so. Even if  they have not watched a single second of basketball this season, every person in your office has an equal shot of submitting a winning bracket.

As a basketball fan, that probably bothers you. You studied! You know about RPI and KenPom and mid-major conferences. You read Palestra Back, dammit!

Why can’t there be a better way to prove your basketball prowess? Why can’t we take things a step further? Can’t we have more fun that a boring old bracket?

We can! Last year, the Palestra Back Fantasy Shootout proved it. And now, the PBFS is back for more. Hit it!

For those unfamiliar with the contest, it debuted last year and was a rousing success. You can scroll through the post from last year to get a bit of a better idea of how it works, but I’ll rehash it here as well.


To enter, you’ll chose one player from each seed line. One player from any of the four number 1 seeds, one player from any of the four 2 seeds, and on and on, all the way down to the lowly 16 seeds. You’ll finish with a 16 player team (with each playing for a different seed). The team with the most total points (and only points, no rebounds or assists or other statistics) is the winner. Everything will kick off next Thursday with the round of 64, so no bonus points from guys in the First Four/play-in games.

It’s a bit like playing Daily Fantasy Sports on FanDuel or DraftKings, but instead of choosing based on fictional player “salaries”, you are limited by their team’s seeding. But in tournament play, it’s more than just points per game because we don’t know how many games each player will play. Take a solid scorer from the team you think will win it all or the high volume shooter on the team that could be bounced after a few games? That’s the decision you’ll need to make.

UPDATE: Here’s a handy spreadsheet with every team’s top scorers. Pick players from the alternating 16 gray and white sections. It’s that easy!


Entries will cost $20, with payouts being made to made to the top finishers (exact payouts and number of winners to be determined once all entries are received). Only one entry will be allowed per person.

Payment can be submitted in any of the following way:

Paypal: Click RIGHT HERE to submit your $20. If you don’t have a PayPal account, it’s free and easy to set-up.

Venmo: Send $20 to Shane-McNichol on the Venmo app. If you don’t have Venmo, it’s free and easy to set-up.

If either of those options doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, send me an email (palestraback@gmail.com), message me on Twitter (@OnTheShaneTrain), or comment on this post down below. We’ll figure it out.


Entries are open! Send in your team when it’s set. I even gave you a handy spreadsheet to help out (Thanks to Evan Gallagher for the tedious work on that)!

To enter, simply send the information below to PalestraBack@gmail.com:

  • Your Name
  • A team/entry name (if you choose to remain anonymous)
  • Proof of payment (screenshot of your PayPal or Venmo transaction)
  • Your 16 player team 

All of this must be done before 10 AM on Thursday, March 17. This is a hard deadline. If your team is not in yet, your money will be refunded. If you have not paid, your team will be removed from the contest.


Uh…everyone? At least everyone who loves basketball and is super excited about March Madness. Do you know anyone like that? Tell them about the Fantasy Shootout. Tell all of your friends, via Facebook or Twitter or whatever mode of communication suits you. The more the merrier!



We’re off and running. What a first round. Buzzer beaters, blowouts, and big upsets all over the place. It all adds up to an exciting Palestra Back Fantasy Shootout.

HERE is the spreadsheet with every player’s scoring, every team breakdown, the leaderboard (2nd tab), and the ownership percentages (3rd tab). Remember, your place on the leaderboard is as important as the number of players you still have alive. Let’s run through some highlights from the first two days of action.

  • The 15 seed line may have been the most crucial so far. Weber State’s Jeremy Senglin was the most popular selection of the entire Shootout. He was taken by 31 of the 45 participants, a total of 68.9 percent. He finished with 7 points in a losing effort. Meanwhile a bit further down the bracket, fellow 15 seed Giddy (!!) Potts scored 19 points in MTSU’s win over Michigan State.
  • Speaking of Michigan State, the “Denzel or Buddy Dilemma” was the most interesting part of picking your lineup this year and it’s already been decided. Valentine ended up with a 23-20 win on selections, but Hield moves on to play another day while Valentine heads home.

  • The 14 seeds provided some drama as well. Thomas Walkup with 33 points in Stephen F. Austin’s win over West Virginia. Meanwhile, the three people who chose Carrington Love from Green Bay were treated to 3 points in a loss.
  • Somehow, believe it or not, Mr. Love did not submit the worst performance of the Shootout. That distinction goes to Texas big man Cameron Ridley. He scored 2 points in 5 minutes of play and was sent home by the thrilling half-court buzzer beater by Northern Iowa. Thankfully, only one player chose Ridley. I won’t shame him by calling him out.
  • HOW DID NO ONE PICK A PLAYER FROM XAVIER? The only team without a selection is surprisingly a two seed.
  • The most important takeaway so far is how close it is. Only 30 points separate 33rd place from 12th place. It’s still anyone’s ballgame. Except maybe Michael Brinkmann, who is 16 points behind even second to last place. Sorry, Mike.
  • I’ll also use this space to announce our payouts and winning jackpot. With 45 participants we have a total purse of $900. Here’s how that will be distributed to our top 5 finishers.
    • 1st Place: $600
    • 2nd Place: $150
    • 3rd Place: $75
    • 4th Place: $50
    • 5th Place: $25


Well, recency bias be damned. That may have been the greatest weekend in March Madness history. We had a halfcourt buzzer beater, a putback buzzer beater, a called-off-because-it-was-a-nanosecond-too-late dunk buzzer beater, Providence beating USC on a late bucket, Notre Dame using devil Irish magic for a winning tip-in, Arkansas-Little Rock doing whatever they did, Buddy Hield, Thomas Walkup, Bronson Koening hitting one of the wildest game-winners in memory, the greatest comeback in the history of college basketball and one of the three biggest upsets ever. Did I miss anything?

Oh right, the Palestra Back Fantasy Shootout has been insanely wild so far.

We’ve got 27 people within 100 points of the lead, with 12 of those people having as many or more players remaining than the leader. The tournament’s three leading scorers (Buddy Hield, Georges Niang, and Thomas Walkup) were all picked by only one player (the guy who specifically tried to pick players with Biblical names. The rest of us are heathens.)

The most popular player selected (Jeremy Senglin) will go down as the 4th lowest scorer in the damn contest. Amazingly, everyone made it to the second week with at least one player left, but Tim C. is hanging on by a thread, only a Kansas upset away from being empty-handed.

All of this and a million other details can be found here at the spreadsheet. Here’s the top 16:

pbfs top 156

That 16 is a very arbitrarily chosen number, specifically selected to point out that if you don’t appear on the list above, you’re losing to my fiancee who falls asleep during 80 percent of the games she watches. She’s a real Cinderella story.

Double check your own team, just to make sure everything looks OK. Even the refs need to go to the monitor once in a while (or every single stoppage, in the case of UNI-Texas A&M).

Your players will start to play each other. Upsets and mayhem will continue. Points will be scored, you can only hope they’ll be yours.

UPDATE, March 28: Two Weekends Down

The Final Four is set and the PBFS has barreled through the brackets, but only some lucky players have survived. Let’s run through the leaderboard to see who still has a chance to take home the big money.

1. Andrew Korz (Johnson, Hield remaining)

After grabbing the leader a few rounds ago, Andrew has held on to the top spot. Now he’s a UNC win away from nearly guaranteeing the victory.

2. Brendan Goes Biblical (Johnson, Hield remaining)

Our only themed team rode Easter blessings as far as they could, but with the same players left as the only person ahead of him, the Holy Brendan can’t move up to #1. If you’re entry is near the top, count the number of teams ahead of you with the same players remaining. If it’s more than 5, you’re out of the money.

3. Barry Bonds Is God (Hield, Gbinije remaining)

Despite the blasphemy of the team name, Mr. BBIG still has a prayer. A Syracuse win over UNC is probably the most surefire way for Michael Gbinije to outscore Brice Johnson by the 13 points he would need to win.

11. Dr Van Nostrand (Johnson, Gbinije remaining)

No entry higher than the team named after Cosmo Kramer’s alter-ego has the same players remaining that he does, but Johnson and Gbinije will square off in the semifinals, eliminating one of them. If the UNC-Syracuse game is a wild 122-118 game where those two players each go for 45, maybe he can get back into it, but even then, there are plenty of teams with either Johnson or Gbinije who would benefit. The sad thing about Dr. Van Nostrand is what could have been. He texted me this morning after realizing he’d be in the lead, if not for opting for Denzel Valentine over Buddy Hield. Oof.

12. Michael Brinkmann (Hart, Gbinije remaining)

Remember in the first update when I shamed Mike as the only player without a chance to win? He’d getting the last laugh. As one of only two Villanova owners in the contest, he’s riding the Cats up the leaderboards. A Villanova-Syracuse final would at least put him in contention to cash, especially if Hart has two big games.

The rest of us are just fighting for bragging rights.

UPDATE, April 3: One Game Remains

Well, the dust is slowly starting to settle and the top of the PBFS leaderboard is taking shape. Here are the scenarios that will determine the payouts:

Barring a miracle, first and second place have been decided. 

Andrew Korz, our leader since the Sweet Sixteen has done enough to hold that spot until now. His top seed, Brice Johnson, still remains. The closest player behind him who owns a player other than Johnson is Michael Brinkmann (with Josh Hart). Unless Hart magically scores 95 points more than Johnson, Andrew will be our winner.

Brendan Goes Biblical sits in second, also with Johnson, unable to make up the three points between he and the top spot. When I saw how close they were, I expected them to have very similar teams. Quite the contrary, as the two leaders only chose seven of the same players for their sixteen man teams. The other nine players on each squad were separated by only one possession, a lone three ball. But that will be the difference between $600 and $150 dollars.

Third, fourth, and fifth place will be determined by a game of catch-up. 

The rest of the purse is still very much up for grabs. People’s bank accounts will be affected by how many times Brice Johnson can put the ball into the basket Monday night.

Here’s a breakdown of scenarios (ignoring ties, which we’ll address in moment):

pbfs winners

There are, of course, other scenarios in play if Johnson scores more than 50, Josh Hart has more than 45 points, or Ryan Arcidiacono or Justin Jackson are turn into some kind of super hero in the next 48 hours.

As for a tie, they’ll work in standard fashion. If two teams share 4th place, they’ll split the winnings for 4th and 5th place, each receiving $37.50.

If you’re name is listed above, congratulations and good luck.

UPDATE, April 6: Final

Well, the Madness has ended, the dust has settled, and the Shootout comes to a close. Six winners (including a tie for 5th place) will hear from me soon to distribute their deserved winnings. The leaderboard spreadsheet also now includes the best possible outcome team, which even our winner finished 200 points short of.

Here are the final standings. Congrats to the winners. See you next March!

2016 pbfs final final


Header image via Getty images.

Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org, Rush The Court, ESPN.com, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to palestraback@gmail.com.

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