10 Reasons You Should Fill Out A NCAA Tournament Bracket This Year
Make Sure You Fill Out A Bracket This March
As I wrote in my articles detailing why the Clemson Tigers could make it into the NCAA Tournament and naming five potential Cinderella teams, I love March Madness. The entire tournament (particularly that first weekend) is the best time of the year. Once the bracket is released (March 16 this year) people all across the country fill out their brackets—tens of millions are filled out each year.
Some people, like myself, drive themselves nuts and have multiple brackets completed (I always have anywhere from 5-10) before settling on their final bracket. Some people just print out a bracket or log into their pool online and just start clicking without giving it too much thought. Some people submit multiple brackets for multiple pools. My pool is limited to one entry per person, and the bracket I submit for my pool is the same as the one I submit for any other pools I enter -- and I almost always enter at least one more pool. I live and die with my bracket. It’s excruciating at times when one of my Final Four teams is clawing to get out of the first weekend, but it is always unbelievably fun. There are other people who run or enter pools where they submit multiple brackets. That’s bush league. I know your odds at winning increase with each bracket you submit, but can you really feel good about winning a pool if you submitted three or four brackets? I wouldn’t.
Filling out a bracket each year is about making those tough choices, deciding who you think will win each game and then hoping your bracket is good enough to win or least place in any pool you are in. I know it stings when you don’t make it past the first weekend (has happened to me twice in all my years of running my pool and entering other pools), but there’s no sense of urgency if you fill out multiple brackets. Once the tournament starts every game should matter to you, especially that first weekend. That cannot truly happen if you fill out multiple brackets.
If this tournament is so maddening, why fill out a bracket at all? Here are 10 reasons why you should fill out an NCAA bracket this year.
10. It's Easy To Run/Join A Pool Online
I run my pool online each year (as I’m sure everyone now does), and it is easy for people to sign up and create their bracket. All of the points are calculated for you. Once you fill out your bracket you can just sit back and enjoy the games which is awesome.
9. Filling Out A Bracket Will Be Fun
This holds true every year. If you fill out a bracket then each game means something. It's always infinitely more fun to watch any game when you have a vested/rooting interest in the outcome.
8. The NCAA Tournament Is Always Unpredictable
This is part of what makes filling out a bracket so fun. There’s a reason a perfect bracket has never been submitted. It is impossible to pick each and every game correctly. Trying to figure out the upsets and when to go chalk and the unpredictability of it all is part of the fun. It's also why you don’t necessarily have to have a lot of college basketball knowledge to win a pool.
7. Bragging Rights
If you win your office pool and/or the pool you have with your friends, that’s bragging rights for an entire year. Being able to brag for an entire year is awesome. Just don’t do what I did after I came in second when the UCONN Huskies won it all in 2011. The following year I chose the name “Joe Lunardi’s Protégé” for my bracket. Whoops. I came in last place the next year when the Kentucky Wildcats won it all. Bragging is definitely fun, and if you win or place in your pool you’ve earned that right—just be smart about it.
6. You Can Win Some Money If You Place In Your Office And/Or Friends' Pool
Come on, who doesn’t like a little extra money to go along with their bragging rights?
5. You Will Have A Rooting Interest In Every Game
This particularly holds true that first weekend. Obviously in the first round (sorry, when the Round of 64 starts, that’s the first round—the play-in games are not the first round), you root for whichever team you chose to win that game. In the second round you either root for the team you chose (if they are still alive) or you root for the lower seed, knowing less people have them advancing. Either way, you care about the outcome of the game, and that makes every game more exciting.
4. Only About A Half Dozen Teams Have A Realistic Shot At Winning It All
This improves your odds of picking the eventual champion. Usually I can make a case for 8-10 teams winning it all. While there will certainly be surprises and upsets, there are about six teams that have a realistic shot at winning the whole thing. I’m not going to name those for you now; you have to do some work for yourself. And of course I want to see what the bracket looks like first, but I feel pretty confident making that statement.
3. It Helps My Wife Enjoy March Madness
My wife likes football and baseball, but basketball is not her thing. I love college basketball and in particular March Madness. Even though my wife is not a basketball fan, she is awesome and watches hours of basketball with me during the tournament every year. My wife started filling out a bracket each year, and it makes the tournament much more enjoyable for her, especially since she has finished ahead of me in my pool more often that I have finished ahead of her. She never lets me forget that, and each year we love watching basketball together.
2. You Can Pick Your Team To Win It All
Of course Clemson is my favorite team/school, but let’s be realistic; even if they get in, my Tigers have no shot at winning it all this year. But for those of you with teams that have a legitimate shot at being crowned the champion, put your money where your mouth is and fill out your team winning the whole thing. It will be even sweeter if they end up winning it all. UCONN is my second favorite college basketball team, and when they won it all in 2011 I had them as my champion—that was awesome.
1. You Could Win $1 Billion
You read that correctly. This is not Dr. Evil saying $1 billion with his pinkie up to this mouth. You actually have a shot at winning $1 billion this year. True, you have to fill out a perfect bracket and the odds of that are 9.2 quintillion to one (that’s not a typo either), but if you do, Quicken Loans, with the backing of Warren Buffet, will give away $1 billion to anyone who submits a perfect bracket. The prize money will be paid out in 40 annual payments of $25 million or a one-time lump sum of $500 million, but only the first 10 million people who enter will be eligible for the grand prize. There has never been a perfect bracket that was documented, but isn’t it worth at least trying? In addition, the 20 contestants with the most accurate (and imperfect) brackets will receive $100K to be used to buy, refinance or remodel a home. I really do not see a reason to avoid filling out a bracket for this contest. Be one of the first 10 million and give yourself a shot.