So you thought you had it in the bag this year with your March Madness bracket. You spent hours deliberating over who to put where, optimizing your March Madness bracket so that you might win some cool prizes… just to have your predicted champions disappoint you and lose in their first game.
Or maybe you have no idea how to make a March Madness bracket, didn’t care all that much, and just filled it out randomly.
Either way, your March Madness bracket is busted — worth less than the piece of paper (or set of pixels) you filled it out on. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Some 70 million brackets are made every year, and not all of them guess the winner correctly, let alone align perfectly with what happens on the court.
Lucky for you, that doesn’t mean your March Madness has run out of possible uses. Here are some other ways you can use your busted March Madness bracket.
1. Turn it Into a Bucket List
It only makes sense that you’d turn your basketball championship bracket into a “bucket” list, pun fully intended, once yours is busted. To do so, just turn the bracket over and make a list of everything big, cool, and interesting you hope to do in life. Maybe you want to travel to try skydiving, or perhaps you hope to travel to Europe one day.
Whatever it is, that open space on the flipside of your March Madness bracket is an excellent spot to write it all down. You can always transfer that list to your phone or computer later, too.
2. Turn it Into Any Other Kind of List
Already got a bucket list? Your bracket’s still pretty useful for any other kind of list. For example, use it as your shopping list the next time you’re headed to the grocery store or to shop for school spirit apparel.
Another option — make it a wish list. Write out everything you want for your birthday or the holidays and send a pic to your mom and dad.
3. Tuck It Away as Scrap Paper
Pieces of scrap paper are lifesavers when it comes to writing down vital pieces of information but being too lazy to find the proper place to save said information. Tuck your bracket away in your desk, kitchen drawer, or glove box. It’ll wait patiently until you need to write down a customer service phone number or confirmation number.
4. Create a Pen and Pencil Holder
Losing pens and pencils is almost as frustrating as a top-seeded team getting destroyed early on. At least you can get rid of that frustration by turning your bracket into a pen and pencil holder. As a bonus, it doubles as a piece of scrap paper, per the previous tip.
If you’re interested in following through on this advice, here’s a quick YouTube tutorial on making a pen and pencil holder out of paper.
5. Use it to Keep Score
One more use as a piece of paper… consider using your bracket to keep score in whatever game you might be playing. Maybe the next time you’re having a tailgate party at your home, you can keep track of people’s Cornhole or Kanjam scores.
Even better: maybe you cross out every basketball team’s name and re-use the bracket for a March Madness Cornhole tournament at your tailgate.
6. Start a Yearly March Madness Bracket Collection
Wait, don’t toss your bracket out the moment you’re let down. Why not hold onto it for posterity? Start a collection of your yearly March Madness brackets and track your performance every year. See if you notice any patterns. Plus, a decade or two later, you can look back at all your failed (and hopefully one or two successful) brackets and reminisce.
7. Cheat and Try Again
Full disclosure: we’re not fans of cheating. We don’t endorse cheating. But if your bracket crashed and burned, you could, in theory, create a new one with all the correct outcomes and keep going. If that one doesn’t work, you could, again, in theory, make yet another bracket.
Obviously, this won’t work if you’re playing for money. You’ll be caught and kicked out of the competition, most likely.
8. Play Out Your Desired Result in a Video Game
Is basketball in the real world not doing it for you? That’s what the digital world is for — meaning video games. Unfortunately, with no new NCAA March Madness/Basketball or College Hoops titles out in the past several years, you won’t be able to play a fully accurate March Madness tourney. The best you’ll get is the same teams.
That said, it can still make for a fun game night to boot up an older NCAA March Madness/Basketball or College Hoops game once all your friends’ brackets are bunk. Just make sure that you’re good enough to win with the teams that you want to win. So grab whichever game you or a friend has, and play out the tournament how you predicted in your bracket.
9. Play Around With an NCAA Bracket Generator
Here’s an idea that’ll be fun for a few minutes but get old fast: search online for an NCAA bracket generator or something similar, and randomly generate brackets until you get an exact match to your own. Alternatively, you can use one of these after the championship and see if you can randomly generate the correct bracket — although you might be there a while if you’re serious about it.
10. See If You Predicted Any Upsets
A busted bracket doesn’t mean you didn’t guess some games right. Take a look back at your bracket — see if you can take solace in the fact that you went against the grain and guessed a winner where others saw a loser. Who knows? This year, you might predict the next massive March Madness upset.
11. Follow Someone Else’s Bracket
Get invested in one of your friends’ brackets. Pretend like you made it — or at least helped them (even if you didn’t) — and share in all the glory if they win. If they don’t get very far, well, now you have someone else to join you in being salty.
No matter what happens, though, compare your bracket against theirs and see where they went right — and where you went wrong.
12. Recycle It
Ok, so you don’t want to hold onto your failed bracket for any reason. Don’t crumple it up and shoot it at the trash can, though — do your part for the planet and hit the recycling bin.
13. Light it On Fire
Recycling your bracket might be the most environmentally friendly method of disposal, but it isn’t really the most satisfying way to express your dissatisfaction with this year’s March Madness. Instead, consider finding a safe environment to light it on fire, then set the bracket ablaze.
Here’s an idea: have a bonfire with friends, but use all your busted brackets as kindling. You’re making maximum use of the trees the paper came from if you do this.
14. Pretend Like Nothing Happened and Keep Going
Lastly, and most certainly not least, you can always keep going and see what the end result is. Just because your championship pick didn’t make it doesn’t mean you got the whole bracket wrong. Just keep paying attention to the games and see what you got right, then compare with friends or whoever you’re competing against.
Don’t Ditch Your Bracket Once You Lose
Plenty of people rip their brackets in half the moment it’s bunk. It’s tempting to join them, but no longer do you have to toss out your ruined March Madness bracket when the same happens. You’ve got plenty of uses for it listed above.
Of course, you can always buy some of your school’s swag to ease the pain of losing.