Building the best NCAA tournament champion from the field of 68
A field of 68 players is determined and in the 2022–2023 season. we had to go through a series of wonderful twists and turns to get this far. The men’s basketball selection committee said “no thanks” to the #1 AP preseason poll (who then said “no thanks” to NIT). The team, selected in the preseason and finishing ninth in the Big East, won both the regular season title and the league tournament. And did we mention the coach who ended his 47-year career, mentioning it in passing after playing the ACC tournament Wednesday afternoon in Greensboro, North Carolina?
With everything that’s happened, it’s time for our latest male fantasy project.
The basic rules are simple. Sportzshala’s Jeff Borzello, Myron Medcalfe, and John Gasaway are aiming to build a team that can win the 2023 National Championship. Each “general manager” selects eight players and one head coach from 68 players. In this snake draft, each GM must pick one average player and is prohibited from making more than one pick from any one team.
So let’s create some winners. The following is an edited for clarity conversation that took place between our GMs when selecting teams for the March Madness 3rd Fantasy Draft. Skip to final list Here.
Brackets are open! Head to tournament challenge And fill in the bracket Now!
John Gasaway: Hello! Are we all ready for fantasy?
Myron Medcalfe: Yeah.
Jeff Borzello: While I’m updating the portal, damn it.
Gas: Great, let’s do this. Eight field players out of 68, one of them is a mid-major and a coach. As for the draft order, I suggest using the finishing order from our Champions Week picks, remember those? I have the final results here.
Medcalf: I don’t agree with this.
Borcello: Yes, it works. I guess I didn’t win.
Gas: Miron goes first, he was right in 15 conference tournaments. Gasaway is second (14). Borcello third (13). In fact, Lunardi beat us all (16). Nobody tells him please.
Medcalf: I will teach you all my ways.
Gas: Obviously we have a lot to learn!
Borcello: Judging by your last pair of drafts, you need all the help you can get with the first pick!
Medcalf: LOLOL. First choice: 7-foot 4-meter juggernaut… Zach Edey.
Gas: Second pick Gasaway takes Brandon Miller.
Borcello: DUMMIT JOHN
Gas: Two choices for Borzello, snake.
Borcello: Let me ride with Trace Jackson-Davis. And Jaime Jaques Jr. of UCLA.
Medcalf: Damn Borcello
Gas: DUMMIT JEFF
Gas: He is such a warrior.
Medcalf: Quick question: how do we deal with injured guys? Markus Sasser, Timmy Allen, etc.
Borcello: Take them if you like.
Gas: Yes, I think Sasser is fair game, Myron, you’ve seen him in person, you have an advantage over us.
Medcalf: It’s right.
Gas: Whatever the case, in the second round, Gasaway takes East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek with him.
Medcalf: Great choice. Cultural guy.
Borcello: Yes, a huge fan. But for the semi-final game, he wore dress socks. I can’t trust him.
Medcalf: LAUGHING OUT LOUD
Gas: Then two choices for Medcalf.
Medcalf: I’ll start with Sasser. Then Colby Jones.
Gas: Oooh, two good ones.
Medcalf: We build champions here.
Borcello: Colby Jones is a grown man.
Medcalf: Yes, he is. Love it.
Borcello: How do you guys take my guys from the Big East? It’s so unfair.
Gas: In the third round, Gasaway takes on Keyonte George.
Borcello: The same rules apply, right? No team duplication and one mid-major?
Medcalf: Yes, these are the rules.
Gas: One mid major can’t take Tiger Campbell if you already have Jakes.
Borcello: I’ll take Jalen Pickett.
Medcalf: Damn, Borcello.
Gas: Old game!
Medcalf: He is so real.
Gas: The ultimate Illinois destroyer.
Medcalf: There were a lot of Illinois destroyers, John.
Gas: That’s for sure.
Borcello: If you two just stuck with your players on the overpass instead of poaching them from the Big East, we wouldn’t have this problem. In an argument between two guys, I’ll pick Souley Bowme.
Medcalf: Love it.
Gas: Oooh, I thought this could happen! Two of Xavier’s three literal Musketeers left.
You know what, let’s do it, I need the size and I No just under the influence of the two of you. Jack Nunj.
Medcalf: I’m amazed at the players we’ve already missed.
Gas: Take them man! You got up!
Medcalf: Zach Edie better get ready to run. Give me Kendrick Davis.
Gas: DUMMIT MIRON
Borcello: A good choice.
Gas: It’s not mid-major, right guys?
Borcello: He cooked yesterday. No, not mid-major. There must be a real mid-major.
Medcalf: He was angry yesterday. Another one of me?
Medcalf: Give me the pride of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Forgotten twin. Chris Murray.
Gas: Good! Okay, I’m moving to the intermediate level and taking Max Abmas while I can.
Medcalf: A curse.
Borcello: This was to be my strategy! Chose it twice this season, I should have the right of first refusal!
It’s crazy that the first-team All-American consensus has lasted this long, but I feel it’s time to take on Jalen Wilson.
Medcalf: Smart choice.
Gas: Listen, listen, I love this choice.
Medcalf: Another one for Borzello, right?
Gas: Yes, indeed.
Borcello: Let me find Jordan Hawkins.
Gas: Oooh, nice!
Medcalf: Yes, it’s a good choice.
Borcello: I only have two choices left, for your information. So we’re getting closer.
Gas: Right. I’m building up, Nunga needs help painting, so I’ll take Tola Smith from the top four players of the year and pray he never hits [free throw] line.
Gas: [Awed silence]
Medcalf: You know that Borcello hates your choice if he is silent.
Gas: Yes, if I don’t get a DAMMIT from Jeff, I’ll know I screwed up.
Medcalf: I’ll take Kyle Filipovsky. And one more right?
Gas: Correct. I suppose you need a mid-major, Myron? I’m right?
Borcello: Filipovsky loved it! Don’t be afraid of Tolu!
Medcalf: Everything is fine. I’ll take Rayshawn Harrison from the Grand Canyon.
Gas: Here you go. In my 7th round, I will choose D, Kevin McCallar Jr., as the penultimate player.
Borcello: I’ll take Tucker DeVries as the mid-major.
Gas: Is that eight for you, Borzello, or will you take another one?
Borcello: And my final pick is another All-American that you guys missed in the eighth round, Azuolas Tubelis. My team is BUZZSAW.
Gas: My last choice is Wade Taylor IV.
Borcello: Like that choice.
Borcello: So many good players will be left out.
Gas: Do you have another Myron?
Medcalf: Yeah. I have one more. We ended up at the same breakfast spot in Bloomington. It must have been a sign. Jalen Hood-Scyfino.
Borcello: All unselected:
I argued between Wong and Boam for about five minutes with my fourth pick.
Gas: I thought very seriously about Nowell. The rest is quite normal. Although Chibwe will likely move into another dimension of the tournament.
Gas: Right, for draft coaches, I think we’re going back to the Myron-John-Jeff order, right?
Borcello: I APPLY.
Gas: Nobody’s touching your boyfriend, Jeff, it’s okay.
Medcalf: I’ll take Shaka Smart.
Borcello: You’ll get Drew Valentine again, John.
Gas: I would have taken it (as in the first release), but, you know, they were 1-400. So Calvin Sampson.
Borcello: Love it. My move?
Gas: Rick Pitino doesn’t come through that door… oh wait, he does!
Borcello: RIKI P
Gas: Here we are! It was a great discussion.
Medcalf: They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My colleagues have strong groups. I think I have assembled, however, the best team. Shaka Smart is much more than a young energetic trainer. This season, his Marquette team has lost over 23% of their Big East rivals’ possessions and also had the most effective offense in the league. He’ll love the backcourt led by Kendrick Davis (Tyreke Hill of college basketball), Marcus Sasser and Colby Jones. My guys are selfless and collected. Davis’ speed, Sasser’s discipline and leadership, and Jones’ tenacity would make the perfect trio for Smart.
I love Chris Murray and in my smallball lineup. He returned for another year after his twin Keegan turned pro. He’s one of America’s most versatile talents, and he’ll be a huge problem in the game because every opponent will need to send help to protect Zach Edie, the most formidable force in college basketball since Zion Williamson. You have to make tough choices when you guard my team. None of them are favorable.
There are pearls on my bench too. Jalen Hood-Scifino is a professional. Rayshawn Harrison leads the Grand Canyon team, which is a sexy first round underdog against San Diego State. And Kyle Filipowski had grown into one of America’s best players by the end of his freshman campaign.
Miron’s team is ready for anything.
Borcello: My team is the juggernaut. I was actually hoping to start my team with Brandon Miller given the number of quality big men leading the sport this season, but Trace Jackson-Davies was a great option too. I think Jaime Jacquez Jr. played as well as everyone else in the country, and Jalen Wilson and Azuolas Tubelis were All-Americans for most of the season. These four give me size, versatility and depth of attack, plus Jackson-Davis is much more used as a playmaker and Tubelis is an elite in a high position. The appearance of Wilson and Tubelis in the sixth and eighth rounds, respectively, was a joke! I have a feeling that Gasaway and Myron were losing the first two picks next season.
Jalen Pickett, meanwhile, has an old-school game but presents a brutal fight, while Souley Boum is fearless and throws big punches. Both guys can also be major ball handlers. Jordan Hawkins and Tucker DeVries gave me size and elite flank shooting skills. I was thinking about taking Drew Pember as the middle choice, which would allow another point guard like Isaiah Wong and Markkis Nowell to be used instead of Tubelis, but Tubelis and DeVries provide real success off the bench.
And I also have Rick Pitino on the sidelines. In a knockout game setting, one-game scenarios, he’s still a guy.
Gas: You two…