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March Madness Actions, 2021

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

These are some of my favorite actions I've observed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We'll keep a running Blog Post to keep them in one place.

The NCAA Tournament is the Super Bowl for basketball coaches obsessed with the X's & O's of the game. Over the course of four weekends, you are getting exposed to every conceivable style of play across the nation. We will witness teams finding success in a variety of ways including; 5 Out Spacing, Ball Screen Actions, Space & Pace, Elite Zone Offense, Inside Play, and so on. If you are anything like me you are watching these games looking for any interesting actions that might catch your eye. Over the next four weekends, I'm going to use this post as a central location to keep all the actions that I put into diagram form.

Most coaches probably have a short checklist for the kinds of actions they are attracted to when watching these games. As a high school coach, I'm always going to be more attracted to simple concepts that could be easily taught instead of the really complex actions with lots of false movement. My short checklist for an action catching my eye would probably include:

  1. The Action is Simple

  2. The Action is Hard to Guard

  3. It is done with 4 or 5 Out Spacing

  4. Fits Seamlessly into that Team's System

Fast Model Play Diagrams

If you have a Fast Draw account you can find all of these sets draw up in my Fast Draw Profile. All you have to do is click on the play and then download it to your own Fast Draw Playbank.


Colorado put on a three-point clinic with 16 3FGM vs Georgetown in their first-round victory. They used their transition game alongside the Spread Ball Screen and DHO elements to really give Georgetown's defense a hard time. Several actions really caught my eye in this game including an ATO, BLOB, and a Horns Entry into Spread Ball Screen.

Colorado Actions:

Double Back Screen -

This was a really slick ATO that Colorado used to get a lay-up right before the half.


1 - Slot to Wing DHO

2 - Single Down on Backside

3 - PG off Pin Down

4 - 2 Clears out

5 - Swing Pass

6 - Back Screen Lay-Up

Colorado picked up a really demoralizing lay-up off this set.

Horns, Spread P/R -

Colorado employed a ton of Spread P/R and this Horns Set was a great way to disguise the entry into that action.


1 - Horns Cross-Screen

2 - Slot to Wing DHO

3 - Spread P/R

Box, Spread P/R BLOB -

This was a great BLOB set that flowed easily into one of their main offensive elements; the Spread Ball Screen. They started in the Box Formation and then flowed in a 14 Low Lob to initiate the action.


1 - Box Formation (Corner Cuts)

2 - Lob Entry

3 - Back Screen for Inbounder

4 - 1/5 DHO

5 - Roll & Replace Action

Wichita State Action:

Point, Post Isolation -

Really liked this action from Wichita State to get their post player isolated on the backside.

They used Point Action as the entry into the play, and then used one of the most popular actions in this year's tournament, Chicago Action. From there they cleared the backside and isolated their 5 Man with his defender.


1 - Point Entry

2 - PG Down Screen

3 - Chicago Action

4 - 2 Clears Out

5 - Ducks In

On this possession, Wichita State was able to get a deep post touch and a trip to the free-throw line.

Liberty Action:

Horns Flare, Give & Go -

This Horns Set that flows into 5 Out Action was really interesting to me. This was a way to get a shooter a look at a three and if it is not there flow into give & go action with the 5 Man.


1 - Horns Alignment

2 - Ghost Screen

3 - Flare Screen

4 - *Check for Shot*

5 - Give & Go with 5

On this possession, the 5 Man was able to hit the 1 Man on his cut to the rim for a layup.


Michigan is one of the nation's best teams, and their interior size and use of NBA-inspired actions really stood out. I particularly enjoyed how they designed actions to get touches for their superior post players in their first-round matchup. Here were two that stood out.

Michigan Actions:

Motion Weak -

Michigan used this variation of Motion Weak to get their 5 Man a Post Up opportunity and then get their PG coming off of the pin-down screen.


1 - Wing Entry

2 - Corner Cut by PG

3 - Perimeter Swing

4 - Cross-Screen by PG

5 - Pin Down from 4

On this possession, they hit the 5 Man for a Post Score.

Stack, High/Low -

This play really struck me as one that would be really effective at the high school level.


1 - Stack Formation

2 - Wing Entry

3 - Check the Post

4 - Hit the High Post

5 - 5 Man Seals!

Michigan used a stack alignment as a way to get their post players isolated around the rim. On this particular possession, the 5 Man was able to seal his man for a deep post touch.


The Razorbacks marched into the Sweet Sixteen this weekend with an athletic attacking style that proved very difficult for Colgate to keep up with. Arkansas used a mix of Ghost Screens, Ball Screens, and Dribble Drives to effectively break down the Colgate defense.

Arkansas Action:

3 High BLOB Series -

They used this three high BLOB series on several occasions and showed different wrinkles to the action.

Curl Option:

1 - Middle Man Curls

2 - Last Cutter Curls

3 - First Cutter uses the Flare Screen

The goal is to hit one of the curls, and if none emerge then enter the ball to the corner.

Reject Option:

1 - Middle Man Basket Cuts

2 - Last Cutter Rejects to Rim

3 - Last Cutter uses the Flare Screen

The goal is to hit the reject cutter for a lay-up and then enter the ball from there.

Colgate Actions:

Colgate showed some great actions in their matchup with Arkansas. Most of their actions used screening actions and an athletic 5 Man to move the basketball.

Horns, Iverson -

Here is an interesting Horns action to get an advantage for the PG.