Fantasy College Hoops 101
by Rick Young
Fantasy College Basketball is upon us, once the clock stuck midnight on Midnight Madness baby! Ah Yes! The thrill of searching for those ‘hidden’ gems no one else knows about, compiling useful stats, waiting up late to get those West Coast box scores that are so vital to your team’s success. Finally, “College Basketball is back!”
The key to any successful league, whether it’s fantasy or real, is having great members. You will need to find the right amount of players that the statistician can handle, and have the ability for league changes to be voted on my league members. Here’s a tip: don’t dominate ideas with your own ideals of how it should be run, let it be a group effort. Whether you plan on setting up a league web site (using free pages from your ISP, going full throttle and purchasing a site), or going as simple as using e-mail as your communication format – you need to keep it running in familiar fashion to all league members.
Attempt to keep continuity by not changing members every year. Keep in mind that you also do what you have to do for the betterment of the league. You want competitive people, as nobody likes playing the “Duke” of any league, most people enjoy good competition, especially being a part of it. Another key is that you have ‘active’ people who are looking into their team weekly. No one likes a dormant team owner! Lastly, you want to create an atmosphere of fun; if you find people with the same passion for the sport, it’s amazing how much fun it becomes! It makes the “real” games much more interesting and of “value” to you.
Below is Hoopville’s step-by-step guide on how to create your own college basketball fantasy league.
Setting Up A League:
Step 1: Determine Number of Teams in the League.
It really depends on how many friends you have who would be interested in joining, and how accessible they are. The beauty of the internet is, you don’t have to have just local friends, it’s a lot of fun with your internet friends, bantering back-and-forth over the Instant Messaging/Chat Rooms about your successes or failures. To keep things interesting, I would suggest a minimum of six teams, with no potential maximum, so long as your statistician can handle the load.
Step 2: Choose your Conferences. Wisely.
This can be a tough issue, but it just depends on your likes and dislikes. If you want a full college experience, you should try all Division I players, which is quite a challenge. If time is of concern, you might what to try using the “Top 15 Conferences”, or if you’re in a particular region of interest, you may just use your local conference, or your alma mater’s conference. Either way, you can’t lose; but it will determine what type of challenges you desire. You’ll find that by using all conferences you learn a lot more about the “smaller” and “mid-major” schools, which should be of value to you when March Madness and the Hoopville Tournament Challenge comes upon us.
Step 3: Identify your Scoring Format
There is no set way of doing this, but most leagues will use the usual statistics, such as field goals made, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Set up a scoring format so that all will know going into the draft what type of player they should be looking for, and make it very clear how the scoring will be done, so there is no confusion later on. One of the most common scoring systems it the Plus/Minus scoring. Here’s how it works:
First, add the positive statistics. So for a player it would be Points Scored + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks. Second, subtract the negative points, such as FG Missed + FT Missed + Turnovers. The net is the total points for that player for a game.
As an example, here’s a stat line from Kansas’ Drew Gooden from a game against Ball State last seson (November 19th). Drew had 31 points, 10 boards, no assists, 2 steals, and a blocked shot. Add them up, and you get 43. But, he also had 9 missed field goals (going 12-for-21), as well as 6 missed free throws (7-of-13), and 5 turnovers. Tally the 9 misses from the field, 6 misses from the stripe, and 5 turnovers, and you get 20 “negative” points. Finally, put the two figures together, and you get 43-20= +23
Step 4: The Draft
Usually, you select a Draft Order, whether it’s by the previous years rankings or if a new start-up league, randomly. This can be done by drawing straws or pulling numbers out of a hat, or you can just go around the room. You can select the draft to reverse order by round, this way it’s balanced, so the 10th guy in a ten team league also gets the 11th pick. Ahh, the choices!
The three most notable types are:
1. Live Draft: Using an Internet chat room, or it’s a local group getting together. Conference calls also work well.
2. E-Mail Draft: Self explanatory, using e-mail as your draft conduit, setting a time limit between pick submittals. Tests of the technology should be done prior, to ensure that no one’s email is lagging.
3. List Draft: Probably the least favorite is the list draft; this is because in a sense, you don’t have control over your own destiny, and what coach like that!
Step 5: Redraft annually vs. Keeper Leagues
To Keep, or not to keep, that is the question. Another decision for your league is to make the league a “keeper” league, or subject the league to clearing the slate annually. In a “keeper” league you get to keep the players who were on your roster at the end of the previous season, going into the next. A regular league will re-draft every year. A “keeper” league is more like the real sport in a sense, because players you’ve “recruited” will stay with you until they graduate, transfer or go pro. It makes your draft interesting, because do you select someone you won’t keep but one year, or someone you can have for 2-3 years. There are specific strategies that come into play for this, which will be discussed more in a future article.
Step 6: Get your Statistics
You can get your statistics via the Internet from many different sources, such as school web sites, ESPN, CBS Sportsline, Stats Inc, and the USA Today, just to name a few. Depending on the resources you use, and the bandwidth of your statistician, you can determine if the league will have updated standings on a daily or weekly. I prefer weekly, so you don’t have to change lineups as much. Some leagues opt for collating stats directly from the web, so daily updates aren’t a major constraint.
That’s basically it – now you’re ready to wreak havoc upon your social life and gain an incredible amount of insight into College Hoops. Caution: it’s addictive.
When is an All-American not worthy? In fantasy hoops.
In the ‘fantasy world’, the person you think is a star just might not be all he’s cracked up to be. A fantasy star might never play in the NBA, or NBDL for the matter, but he can be the difference between you sipping champagne, or crying in the corner at the end of the season. Most people go for the “name” players, these are the players they hear about on a daily basis, whether it be on SportsCenter or around campus. Although they might be the catalyst for their actual college team, they could actually be your downfall.
As an example, looking at the list below of pre-season talent, you would want them on your ‘real’ team for sure, but fantasy-wise, you have to be much more selective. Don’t let your heart make your choices, this meaning if you love North Carolina, don’t just pick their players because of your love, you might love them at the start, but by season’s end, you could be cursing their ever being born!
Choose wisely, a great fantasy player is any player who can amass an average of 25 or more fantasy points per night, this is a stud who can lead you to victory; in all, any player that’s a 20+ fantasy player is of value, if they’re equal, you can choose your favorite school. Have a good balance of players. Let’s take some of the likely pre-season All-America honorees, and see how I value them as fantasy players.
Chris Duhon, Duke – Point Guard. Ranked as the 120th best fantasy PG. Last year, he was a dud. This year?
Kirk Hinrich, Kansas – Shooting Guard. Ranked as the 9th best fantasy 2-guard. He’s basically a good compliment player, but you can do better.
Luke Walton, Arizona – Small Forward. Ranked 23rd. Nice off your bench, nothing more.
David West, Xavier – Power Forward. Ranked 3rd at the position – Alert! Fantasy Stud!
Chris Marcus, Western Kentucky – Center. Ranked 3rd at Center – again, this is someone to try to get on your squad.
Now, that you saw who the ‘experts’ say are the best players in the land, let me tell you my pre-season “Fantasy” All-American team. The stats don’t lie, these guys are genuine studs in the fantasy game! This list is from all Division I schools, not just the big boys.
Henry Domercant, Eastern Illinois – Point Guard. Ranked number 2 at the position. A stud, 2 years in a row.
Ricky Minard, Morehead State – Shooting Guard. Number 1 fantasy shooting guard. You want this guy. You need this guy.
Jason Conley, VMI – Small Forward. Number 1 overall, not just at the position.
David West, Xavier – Power Forward. Ranked 3rd at the position – Two-time fantasy stud. Most familiar guy on the list.
Adam Sonn, Belmont – Center. Ranked as the nation’s top fantasy center. Visualize him on your squad.
As you can see, no major conferences or players involved, David West being the only one who was on both lists.
In preparing for the season, I usually don’t think of it as college hoop season until the preseason magazines come out, my personal preference in the Sporting News pre-season annual. In my opinion it’s the most up-to-date and accurate (I have every issue since 1991). There are others but for stats, player information and current schedules, TSN is simply the best. There are plenty of statistics available out on the web, as well, and for insight and commentary, don’t forget our hometown – Hoopville. The best draft is one you’re prepared for. If you just looking at the All-America section and attempt to ‘wing’ it during the draft, you are doomed for failure. Preparation is needed to succeed in this competitive world.
Remember to have fun, as there’s nothing like a little ‘trash’ talking with your mates. It gives it some realism and makes the season go better. I hope to keep you informed of my passion, College Basketball, from a ‘fantasy’ perspective! The next article will be on Draft Strategies, Top 25 players for each position, my “hidden gems” for your draft. See you soon!