A New Way to Enjoy the Big Dance: Pick the Players, Not the Teams

Want another way to enjoy the Big Dance? Check out FantasyFeud's March Madness Survivor Contests.

Most of us have been filling out NCAA Tournament brackets for years, and while it’s one of the most entertaining times for a sports fan, why not make the experience even better?

Well, fortunately, you can.

Our friends over at are having awesome March Madness Survivor Contests, and they’re much different from your traditional office pool. You see, instead of picking teams to win within the tournament bracket, your goal is to select three players in each round of the tourney – one guard, one forward and one flex guy – who will yield the highest number of points based on points scored, assists and rebounds. If your three guys outscore at least half of the 64-person playing field, you’ll move on to the next round. If not, you’re cut from the competition.

But there’s a catch – you can only use the same player once. After each round, scores are wiped clean, and participants aren’t allowed to select the same players they did in previous rounds. The last team standing wins, while the top four teams see cash payouts.

If you’ve never played at FantasyFeud, why not give it a shot? Every first time depositor will get a free entry into the March Madness Survivor Contest, so there’s plenty of incentive to join. You’ll be watching plenty of the NCAA Tournament already, so why not make it even more enjoyable?

Maybe you’re new to college basketball though, and only casually watched games this year. If that’s your hesitation to signing up, have no fear. Our strategy and analytics can help give you an edge against competition, as well the chance to create your own Cinderella story.

Choosing the Right Strategy

With any sort of fantasy sport, strategy is key. And when it comes to something survivor-related, having the right approach is even more important.

We know that March Madness can be full of surprises – we’ve seen a 13 seed win at least once in each of the last six years, and a 12 seed beats a 5 seed all the time as well. As a result, we see outcomes that are, quite frankly, unpredictable.

And the erratic nature of the NCAA Tournament needs to be tamed, at least from the start. You don’t want to enter the March Madness Survivor Contest with risky selections, because that will only add to the inherent risky nature of the tournament.

Instead, start to see how things play out a bit before you become a risk-taker. While you’ll want to use the Bryce Cottons of the world when it matters most – later in the contest – what happens when a stud player gets knocked out of the tournament? It’s not as though, like a football pool, you’re guaranteed a game later in the season.

That’s why it’s smartest to pick the sure things early on, and worry about the tough decisions when you run out of studs to use.

What’s the best approach in picking these players? You have to take a look at the analytics, of course.

Metrics to Analyze and Players to Choose

It’s just as important to worry about a player’s opponent in fantasy as it is the actual player. If Jabari Parker is going up against a top team that plays good defense and plays even slower than Duke, why would I want to use Jabari Parker?

Your best friend in this competition is quantity, not necessarily quality. And there’s one statistic that can really help you out with regards to this: pace.

Our pace metric, quite simply, looks at how fast or slow a team moves the ball on each possession. Some teams like to eat up clock, while some are forced to play a slow game because of a solid defense. Other squads, however, like to just run up and down the court as fast as they can, out-hustling their opponents.

When pace is high, players see more possessions in a game. And when there are more possessions, there are naturally more chances to score points, get assists and grab rebounds – the three statistics needed to win FantasyFeud’s March Madness Survivor Contests.

In this year’s tournament, the fastest team in terms of pace is Brigham Young. Let’s start there.

BYU is a surprise 10 seed, and will be facing off against the number 7 seed, Oregon, in the first round. Oregon’s not necessarily a slow team either, ranking 41st in pace, the 12th-highest score in the tournament. It’s a prefect recipe for BYU star Tyler Haws to have a big game, as he averaged 23.4 points and nearly four rebounds per contest during the season. And it’s not like Oregon’s defense is strong, ranking 148th according to our metrics.

Haws would be a top player to use in Round 1, as his team may not even make it past their first game in the tournament.

To give you an example that isn’t as attractive, look at Iowa State, who will face North Carolina Central in their first game. Led by senior forward Melvin Ejim, the Cyclones are a strong offensive team that saw more possessions in college basketball this year than all but five teams. However, North Carolina Central is a slower-paced team (242nd-ranked) that’s defensively sound, so using a guy like Ejim may be better for later rounds, as his team will more than likely advance. The second round against what could potentially be North Carolina could be a better time to use the senior.

As you can see, doing this type of exercise can help pinpoint upcoming opportunity. While Ejim is always capable of being fantasy relevant, he may be even better when he faces a faster-paced, bad defensive team. And the pool of players available is large enough early in FantasyFeud’s contest, so there’s no reason to force the issue.

Though, to be honest, I would still consider using Creighton’s Doug McDermott early, who could put on a show against Louisiana Lafayette’s 18th-ranked pace (5th in the tournament) and 135th-ranked defense. No team in the country scores more effectively than McDermott’s Bluejays, and he should be able to give you consistency to get through the first round.

For reference, below is a list of the top-10 teams in the tournament in relation to pace. I've included the numberFire team rank - based on our nERD metric - to help show how good the team actually is. When you know that, you can begin to forecast how far they'll go into the tournament, planning your potential players in the contest ahead of time.

TeamPacenF Overall Team Rank
Brigham Young0.99040
Iowa St.0.96914
Louisiana Lafayette0.946114
Virginia Commonwealth0.91522

Join the Madness!

It's a completely different way to look at the NCAA Tournament, and it's bound to make your experience that much better. So while you're here at numberFire getting information to beat your co-workers in an office pool, why not take the metrics we use to the next level and win some cash over at FantasyFeud? Again, if it's your first time playing over there, you get to enter the contest for free. What's there to lose?