Every year in March, college basketball takes over every major TV network with the March Madness National Tournament. The March Madness tournament starts with 64 very talented teams that come together and play for the title of National Champs. It’s really fun and exciting, and fans from all over the nation watch and root for their favorite teams. The other fun part about March Madness is getting to create a NCAA March Madness Bracket.
What is a March Madness Bracket?
The March Madness Bracket is a table of all 64 teams, broken up into their respective regions. The teams are organized into their individual games, and fans can choose the winners of each round. With your bracket, you can guess who is going to win each round and then predict the overall champions.
About the NCAA March Madness Bracket
The teams are placed against each other based on rank, or seeding. There is an overall #1 team that is generally the favorite to win the championship. They are included with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best teams for the #1 spot in each of the four regions. From there, teams fill in the rest of the regional spots based on how good they are compared to others. There are 16 teams per region, making 64 teams total.
The March Madness Bracket is set up so that the best teams are playing each other at the end. So, for the first round including 64 teams, the top seeded team plays against the lowest seeded teams. The #1 teams play the #16 teams and this continues until the rankings meet in the middle with the #8 and #9 teams.
The tournament is one and done, meaning that once a team loses, they’re out of the tournament and the winner moves onto the next round. There are six rounds total: a round of 64, a round of 32, the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, the Final Four, and the National Championship. They will all follow this schedule so fans can keep up with their bracket picks.
As you fill out your bracket, you’ll predict who moves onto each subsequent round, playing against your friends, families, coworkers, and other fans. Some fans just fill out brackets for fun while others bet on their brackets for a chance to win some serious cash. There are even national competitions that you can play in if you want a shot at winning a large cash prize and the chance to play against fans from all over the country.
How Do I Fill Out a March Madness Bracket?
Filling out a NCAA Bracket can be fun, but it can also be fairly intimidating. There are so many slots to fill, and if you don’t know much about the teams, it can be hard to decide which team to choose. Here are some tips to help guide you through filling out your bracket:
1. Watch basketball
It will be so much easier for you to fill out your March Madness Brackets if you watch basketball. You don’t have to be an avid fan or anything, but watching basketball will give you an idea of who is in the March Madness Tournament. It’s difficult to predict winners without knowing who the teams are or what they can do.
The other advantage of watching basketball is being able to listen to the analysts. They will give viewers a good idea of who the teams are, their normal behaviors/patterns, and their likelihood of advancing far in the tournament. Their predictions aren’t bulletproof, but they have watched and studied a lot of basketball and are at least a good starting point.
Watching basketball is also a good idea because some teams have WOW moments that can sway bracket makers. Bracketology is the study of how to put brackets together and predict who will move onto the next round. NCAA Bracketology takes into consideration how teams normally operate and excludes random happenings, upsets, and unfortunate circumstances like injuries that make a good team bad in a matter of seconds. These factors can negatively impact your NCAA March Madness Bracket if you aren’t familiar with the teams and get caught up in the emotions that can happen with big moments that garner a lot of attention, but are completely abnormal and rare.
2. Mix up who advances
March Madness is called such because of the upsets and unexpected wins. The greatest moments in the NCAA March Madness Tournament are the unexpected underdog wins.
The tournament is not going to follow a pattern where lower seeded teams always lose to the higher seed. Account for this in your bracket picks. The closer ranked the two teams are, the higher the likelihood that an upset is possible. It’s very rare that a #1 seed will get beaten by a #16 seed, but a #5 seed is knocked out by a #12 seed 35% of the time.
Throw these upsets in the bracket to differentiate it from others and increase the odds for a more valuable win. When fans pick the underdog and the underdog ends up winning, that win is much more valuable because less people had that pick on their bracket. If you are playing for money, upsets are highly beneficial if you bet on the right team. Don’t miss out on the sleepers that everyone else counts out but could actually make a pretty successful run, like Harvard’s Basketball Team.
3. Be realistic about who advances
The #16 has never won the NCAA championship, so unless your bracket is a joke or just for fun, it’s not a good pick. The seeding is selected by a committee that has studied these teams and placed them meticulously where they feel each team deserves to be. It’s not always a perfect system, but it’s fairly close. Use the seeds to guide picks to a certain degree. But, it’s also not realistic that all #1 seeds make it to the Final Four. This has only happened once, so account for that as well.
When Does the March Madness Bracket Come Out?
The March Madness Bracket comes out after all conferences have finished their individual conference tournaments. The teams that make the bracket automatically are those that finished the season in the top 25, regular season champions, and all winners of the conference tournaments. After that, the selection committee looks at performance, strength of schedule, improvement over the season, and a myriad of other factors to determine who fills in the rest of the spots. Therefore, they must wait until all conference winners have been confirmed. This normally happens the first or second weekend in March.
After the final game, there is a selection show where the selection committee reveals the teams one by one. Teams and fans have viewing parties and it is a really exciting moment, especially for teams who have not made the tournament in a long time.
After all teams are announced, the NCAA March Madness Bracket will be released for fans to begin choosing teams. Look out for the date and time of the selection show and then note the date and time of the first game. Printable brackets are still available after the start of the first game, but pools and contests may be closed by then, so it’s important to double check deadlines. There are normally a couple of days in between the selection and the start of the tournament to fill in the bracket.
Where Can I Find the Official NCAA March Madness Bracket?
This year there will be different rules and regulations due to COVID-19, and all games will be played at a single site, but the process of filling out a bracket should be very much the same.
NCAA March Madness Brackets will be redistributed on many outlets, but the first place they will be available is the official NCAA website. Both men and women’s brackets will be available for print and download. ESPN Fantasy Games also has electronic versions where fans can tap which team they want to advance to the next round until their bracket is filled out. The electronic version will count points based on the number of correct picks and rank that bracket on a national scale. The winner of that is eligible for a large cash prize.
How Many NCAA March Madness Brackets Can I Make?
You can make as many NCAA March Madness Brackets as you would like. Simply print several copies of the printable March Madness Brackets and fill them out to your heart’s galore. Online versions normally have a cap at about 10 per account, but you can simply make more accounts.
Making more than one bracket is actually a good idea because it increases the odds of having a bracket do really well. It also gives you brackets to play with and predict unlikely or goofy scenarios. For example, maybe one of your brackets has all of the top seeds advancing forward, or you could do the opposite and have a complete underdog bracket. Brackets can also play with different realistic upsets so you can maximize your chances of having a correct bracket. These different NCAA March Madness Brackets can be entered into different pools as well.
The most important part about making your NCAA March Madness Bracket is to have fun while doing it. This is a fun and exciting time in sports, so try to make the most of it. Throw on some home team gear and good luck this season!