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Monday, March 19, 2012
ESPN Tourney Draft: Schlabach trails pack

By Eamonn Brennan

Could a full-time college football writer who only seasonally moonlights in the world of basketball really draft a better portfolio of NCAA tournament teams than three guys who live, breathe, eat and sleep college hoops? The answer -- thankfully, for our own sense of self-worth -- appears to be a resounding no.

That's the verdict from the first weekend of results in the ESPN Tourney Draft (obligatory hashtag: #ESPNTourneyDraft), wherein Mark Schlabach, author of seven books on college football, fell behind yours truly, John Gasaway and Jason King in rather decisive fashion. After the first two rounds, the results were as follows:
  1. John Gasaway: 21 points, five Sweet 16 teams
  2. Jason King: 20 points, five Sweet 16 teams
  3. Eamonn Brennan: 17 points, four Sweet 16 teams
  4. Mark Schlabach: 10 points, two Sweet 16 teams

Yours truly was hurt by upset losses to Florida State, Georgetown, UNLV and Temple, but having Kentucky, Marquette and Louisville helped, while Ohio -- my 14th pick! -- shocking the world and ending up in the Sweet 16 kept me in the hunt. John, meanwhile, drafted well, retaining his top four picks (Ohio State, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Indiana) and value-pick Florida. After Missouri's shocking first-round loss, Jason got help from some of his later round selections; his remaining teams are North Carolina, Baylor, Cincinnati, Xavier and NC State.

As for Schlabach? His entire hopes rest on his top two picks, Kansas and Michigan State, after Vanderbilt, Duke, Michigan, Long Beach State, Notre Dame, Murray State, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, Davidson, SDSU, Southern Miss, Alabama, Western Kentucky, Miss. Valley State and LIU Brooklyn all lost in the first weekend. Yeah: Ouch.

Can Schlabach make a rousing comeback? It doesn't look likely. Can I? My UK ace in the hole remains viable. But John is the clear front-runner, after Jason's most viable Final Four/national title contender, UNC, suffered the potentially season-changing Kendall Marshall injury Sunday afternoon.

May the best team portfolio win.

And, if I may: In your face, Schlabach.