Underground Basketball League to crown champion at the 2017 NCAA Final Four in Phoenix

mgr-games-finalManager Games (@ManagerGames_) will return for the 2016-17 season, continuing to build on the growth and success the league saw during its inaugural 2015-16 campaign.

The new season, which began October 12 when St. John’s faced off with Iona, will again culminate with the Manager Games Postseason Tournament in March 2017.  The 64-team field will be announced on Monday, March 13, 2017.  Up to eight teams will qualify for the second ever Manager Games National Championship in conjunction with the NCAA Final Four in Phoenix.  Times, dates, travel plans, and potential sponsors and broadcast plans will be announced at a later date.

To qualify for the 2017 Postseason Tournament:

  • Teams must play at least five (5) Manager Games prior to their conference tournament.
  • A conference may qualify for an AQ (automatic qualifier) bid to the Postseason Tournament by collectively playing a minimum of twice the number of games as teams in the conference (i.e., a 14-team Big Ten would need to play 28 conference games to qualify for an AQ bid). The AQ will go to the regular season champion (team with best conference winning percentage and minimum of five games played), or, if the conference has a conference tournament of four or more teams, the conference tournament champion.  Five conferences would have qualified for an AQ in 2015-16.
  • Remaining at-large spots will be determined by KPI rankings. KPI rankings, a ranking system developed by Michigan State Assistant Athletic Director Kevin Pauga that assigns values to the quality of each win and loss on a scale of approximately -1.0 to +1.0, will be updated regularly throughout the season at
  • The 64-team bracket will be strategically drawn so teams that qualify for the same first weekend NCAA Tournament site will be placed in the same 8-team pod to increase chances of playing the postseason games during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
  • For postseason games unable to be played, online voting will again be used to determine a winner. Details of that process will be announced at a later date.

Featured on ESPN College Gameday, the New York Times, and, Manager Games is an organized league of underground basketball games played by men’s basketball student managers, staffs, and the occasional “ringer” at colleges and universities across the country.

Games are typically played the night before scheduled matchups between two schools. Rules include:

  • Player eligibility is limited to those involved in any capacity past or present within the men’s basketball program at a given university. The preference is that teams are comprised of managers, while understanding that is not always possible to field a full roster.
  • Games are played in two, 20-minute halves with a running clock.
  • The clock will stop for the last two minutes of the second half. All common fouls will be 1-and-1 during the same last two minutes of the game.
  • Any overtime period will be five minutes in length.
  • All other rules should revert to the Division I Men’s Basketball rule book or common sense.

Results and scores are kept to track standings and KPI rankings for each participating school.  The season culminates with the Postseason Tournament where teams advance through both fan votes and competition.  While the games are competitive, they are intended to celebrate student managers and their hard work and dedication, while also allowing them to enjoy some relaxation and competition themselves.

To take part in Manager Games, each school needs to register via e-mail at and designate their school’s “Managing Manager.”  Game scores should be reported to the same e-mail address or via direct message on Twitter to @ManagerGames_.  Please report the visiting and home team, final score, and date and location of each game. Scores, team resumes, and KPI rankings will be available at

mgr-games-champFirst established in 2014 by Michigan State student managers Ian May and Andrew Novak and Michigan State Assistant Athletic Director and former manager Kevin Pauga, the first Manager Games Postseason Tournament took place in March 2016.  During the 2015-16 season, 278 games were played by 137 schools representing 25 conferences.  Nearly 150,000 votes were cast in advance of the semifinal matchups.  Iowa State, Kansas, Michigan State, and Tennessee competed at the NCAA Final Four in Houston, Texas, with Kansas defeating Michigan State 44-42 to win the first ever Manager Games National Championship. More than $2,000 was raised through a GoFundMe account to assist in travel expenses for each school.  Game production and referees at the NCAA Fan Fest were kindly provided with assistance from the NCAA, Turner Sports, and on-site manager, 3 Point Productions.

Student managers are a valuable asset to college basketball teams across the country.  They volunteer their time to assist student-athletes, coaches, and schools in positions that are often unpaid.  They assist in practices, the video room, on gameday, and in many other aspects of the day-to-day operation of college basketball programs. The work ethic learned while serving as a student manager helps graduates become successful in jobs in both professional and intercollegiate athletics, as well as positions outside sports.  The student manager position has become one of the best internships in intercollegiate athletics.

The Manager Games logo was created by Thomas Northcutt, student manager at Auburn University.  The “MG” stands for “Manager Games” while adding an outlined R to acknowledge “MGR” as an abbreviation for manager.  The logo colors can be customized to represent each school’s colors and add to the identity of each competing team.

Follow the Manager Games on Twitter at @ManagerGames_ and on Facebook at


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