Time to fill out your brackets again and be reminded of the fun and futility of March Madness. (Jump ahead to the List of Free Bracket Contests.)
I do this every year. It’s amusing to feel like a genius for a couple of days (“Hey, look, one of my 17 brackets only has 3 missed picks through Sunday!”) only to come crashing back to reality later. All of my brackets are usually shredder-ready by the second Friday.
The odds of picking a perfect bracket are way worse than winning the lottery — not even in the same ballpark, probably not even the same galaxy.
|Contest||Odds (1 in)|
|Mega Millions lottery jackpot||175,711,536|
|Perfect bracket (choosing higher seeds)||35,360,000,000|
|Perfect bracket (randomly selected)||9,223,372,036,854,775,808|
That’s why everybody and their grandmother can offer million dollar (and billion dollar!) prizes for their online bracket contest. It would be hilarious if some common bracket combination came true and they would have to pay up. On the last weekend, we would know a lot of people would be so close to the big prize. Shares of the company offering the prize would take a dive. What if all higher seeds did win? On several sites that would be the default pick set. Hundreds of people could win on computer or user error.
At least, in office pools you are only competing with mere mortals instead of perfection. They can be more exciting since you are still in the hunt longer. Of course, in office pools you probably know who the winner is, which could lead to more of a humiliated feeling when you are smoked by the guy who based his picks on which team had the cooler mascot or the woman who only picked teams from blue states.
Have no fear. You, too, can have a winning wacky bracket. Here are some suggestions on how to decide between two teams.
- The old coin flip.
- Which team is first/last alphabetically
- The team with the fattest player
- Mascot fight!
- Oldest university
- Ask a toddler to pick
- Assign them sections on a dartboard
- Lowest SAT scores
- Uniform color/design
If you have any more suggestions, share them in the comments section. For a more rational approach, you can get some insight based on what the seeds have done historically. As you can see teams are given the seeds for a reason.
Free Bracket Contest List
Finally, for your convenience, here’s a list of free bracket contests. Add your own in the comments section, and I’ll try to update the list if I find some new ones. [*] Needs a link update from 2014.