One of the best things about March Madness is that it sweeps across the entire nation and gets all of the casual sports fans involved. For a few weeks every year, the country turns its complete attention to the NCAA Tournament, and a lot of it has to do with filling out a bracket and entering a pool.
Since the CBT staff has been in dozens of different NCAA Tournament pools over the years, we decided to help guide you in the right direction on the ways to make your pool the best that it can be.
WHAT SHOULD YOU PLAY FOR? Pride.
Just kidding. Money. Play for money.
If you’re looking to get as many people as you can get, likely go with a $5 entry fee. If you’re in a group of high rollers than double it to $10. If you and a small group of friends are just plain, degenerate gamblers looking for a big payout, make it an even $20, and keep the pool of entrants small.
Not into losing money? That’s cool. You can come up with a prize for the winner, or better yet, a punishment for the loser.
Again, you’re not playing for pride, your playing to humiliate others. Are you tired of your co-worker constantly forcing his uniformed hot takes into every daily conversation? How about your friend who only cares about college basketball when your alma mater loses? This is your opportunity to shut them up.
In a way, a bracket pool is simply one’s pursuit to become Danny DeVito’s character from Matilda.
WHAT SHOULD THE SCORING SYSTEM BE? This is up for debate.
It all depends on what you value more. If you believe predicting the Final Four and national champion is a greater accomplishment than having a perfect first round, then go with this scoring:
First Round: 1 point
Second Round: 2 points
Sweet 16: 4 points
Elite Eight: 8 points
Final Four: 16 points
Title Game: 32 points
Did a few teams you had going to the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight get upset, or did a few Cinderellas never pan out? No worries, you can still make up ground if you have your Final Four still intact.
The other approach is to just increase the points by one each round, like this:
Round of 64: 1 point
Round of 32: 2 points
Sweet 16: 3 points
Elite Eight: 4 points
Final Four: 5 points
Title Game: 6 points
With scoring like this, it adds value to first round on Thursday and Friday. And we all know those are the best days of the NCAA Tournament, so why not make them more enticing?
SHOULD YOU ALLOW PEOPLE TO BUY-IN WITH MULTIPLE BRACKETS? I’m going to let Lawrence from Office Space answer that question.
Never be the guy who justifies having their entire Final Four bounced by Sunday by saying, “Well, in my other bracket …”
First of all, I want to hear about your other bracket like I want to hear about your fantasy football team.
Now there is an exception. Submit as many brackets as you’d like to online contests. I, too, want that Warren Buffett money. Just don’t talk about your other brackets. Make one of them public and ride or die with it.
HOW SHOULD YOU SEND THE INITIAL EMAIL/WELCOME LETTER? We’ve likely all seen an email, received a group text or have been @’d in a tweet from a friend, classmate, colleague, asking us to join their bracket pool.
I’ve already ignored one group text, and it was sent from one of my best friends, so that’s how effective those can be.
If you’re in an office or on a campus, the best way to get people in your bracket pool is to do it face-to-face. If email or texts is the only way to get it done, you have to be persistent. Be clear about, what buy-in is and the potential payout is, what the scoring is etc. If you’re not using an online site that automatically updates the score, you best keep your entrants up-to-date, round-by-round, on the scores and the leaders.
When someone submits a bracket, get their money. I can’t stress that enough. I’m not advocating for you to do your best Tony Soprano’s impression while you hunt down Steve for his $10. Be more like a university calling alumni asking for donations … annoyingly nice and tireless until they get that money.
There you have it, the guide to successfully running an bracket pool. If you have any advice or any ideas of your own, leave them in the comment section.