The 2021 Palestra Back Fantasy Shootout

UPDATE: March 31

We’ve reached the Final Four and there are still a host of teams in the running for the prizes at the top. There’s really four groups of teams still alive:

  1. Teams currently at the top but with only one player left standing. This group might be able to hold off the charge if the games are low scoring or points are coming from lesser known names.
  2. There’s a pack of teams with two players left but needing 60-70 points to make up ground. If they get three or four games out of their guys next weekend, it’s not crazy to see them make the move up the standings.
  3. There’s two teams (B-b-b-b-basketball and briand50) way back, sitting around 25th place, but with three players remaining. Three is the max for Final Four picks this year (Since Gonzaga and Baylor are both top seeds). These two teams are guaranteed three games this weekend and could get to four. It might not be enough.
  4. It would be plenty though for Ryan Cleary, our interloper at the top. Surrounded by teams with just one man left, he’s snuck into 6th place with Corey Kispert, Quentin Grimes, and Johnny Juzang still left. All three will play a semifinal game, he’s guaranteed another game from the UCLA-Gonzaga winner and could get one more if Houston wins. That might be enough for him to charge all the way to the top spot.

That’s all for now. Good luck to those in the mix. Here are the current standings for this year’s contest.

UPDATE: March 23

Two rounds down and we’ve seen the craziest tournament in recent memory. We have the highest combined seeds ever for a Sweet Sixteen, which we were damn due for after a year without a tournament and the lowest combined seeds ever in 2019.

I won’t hold you up any longer. Here are the current standings for this year’s contest.

For those in the running for the cash this year, I went back and ran a little analysis on the five previous contests to help you gauge exactly where you’ll need to reach to grab a win.

To feel like you have a shot at the prizes, you probably need three of your players to win their Sweet Sixteen games and two of those players to win again to reach the Final Four. If there’s a path for your team to get to 700 points, you have a chance.

Not sure if that’s you? Look at my team, currently in 60th place but with 5 players remaining. Let’s say my five players play their maximum possible remaining games, which would give me a total of 14 more games played. For me to clear 700 points, my guys would need to average about 21 points per game collectively. That’s a lot….but I like that math! If you’re hanging around the middle of the pack, you might still have a prayer.

Good luck to those of you in the hunt. Let’s have another fun weekend full of games!


Losing March Madness last year was a legitimate gut punch. A year later, seeing everything else that we’ve lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of a basketball tournament is an afterthought, but in the moment, it was crushing.

No March Madness? No buzzer-beaters or Cinderellas? No bracket to fill out?

And for a special lucky corner of the world, it meant no Palestra Back Fantasy Shootout. If you’ve played our little contest before, you were surely heartbroken. If you haven’t well, fear not – the Shootout has returned.

No, this is not simply a bracket contest. Everyone already does a bracket and you’ll lose to some lady in Human Resources. The Palestra Back Fantasy Shootout goes a level deeper for the diehards and the crazies. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about basketball but it is surely my best idea.


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 Friday 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.

Now, it’s even easier to play and to understand. Go to the handy-dandy entry form and simply choose one player from each of the dropdown menus. THAT’S IT. Well, except you need to pay.


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 (, message me on Twitter (@OnTheShaneTrain or @PalestraBack), or comment on this post down below. We’ll try to figure it out, but only players who have paid before tip-off on Friday will be in the contest.


Entries are open! Go to the entry form and submit your team whenever you’re ready.

All of this must be done before 10 AM on Friday, March 19. 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.


Of course. In the interest of fairness, here’s my team:


Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and senior writer at He has also contributed to, The Action Network, Rush The Court, Larry Brown Sports, RotoBaller, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. You can find every post from this blog on Twitter by following @PalestraBack.

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