How to Win Your March Madness Pool

The Madness will soon begin…

People everywhere have started working on their March Madness Tournament brackets, determined to finally win that office pool or earn bragging rights over their friends.  Last year, some estimates suggested that March Madness “activities” during work hours accounted for up to $1.9 billion worth of lost wages (Challenger 2015 March Madness Report).  Surprisingly, many companies out there actually view this as a positive event that boosts employee morale and encourages employee interaction (or maybe they’re just afraid of an employee riot if they tried to stop it!). 

If you want to get in on the action but don’t know where to start, you’re in luck!  We’ve laid out the basics for you below, including some essential online resources that will get you ready for the madness!

What is March Madness?

March Madness is a 64-team NCAA basketball tournament (not counting the “First Four” opening round, which is not part of the traditional 64-team bracket).  All 64 teams are given a ranking, or seed, based on their performance during the regular season, and this seed and bracket spot is announced on Selection Sunday.  The format is single-elimination, meaning after each round the number of teams remaining is cut in half: From 64 to 32 (Round of 32), to 16 (Sweet Sixteen), to 8 (Elite Eight), to 4 (Final Four), and to 2 (National Championship).

An office pool usually consists of each person submitting their own “bracket,” showing their predictions of which teams will win and which will lose, all the way through to the National Championship game.  The person who earns the most points for correct predictions wins.  While this may sound simple enough, 64 starting teams means there are 2^63 (over 9 quintillion) possible bracket outcomes!  Since all teams weren’t created equal, a little research can go a long way…

Online Resources

  • Odds: Odds Shark, The Spread – Vegas has some experience setting the lines for games, so it never hurts to factor those into your decisions.
  • Stats: NCAA.com, TeamRankings.com, kenpom.com, statfox.com – If you love digging into the data, or if you have way too much time on your hands, many websites have the team and player statistics from the regular season.  This may help you decide some of those tougher matchups.
  • Analysis: ESPN.com, CBS Sports – ESPN and CBS will have LOTS of analysis and predictions of game outcomes, but keep in mind, almost everyone with a bracket will see these same predictions.  Sometimes it helps to separate yourself from the crowd.
  • Bracket: Printable Bracket (ESPN) – Because sometimes you want to use a pencil and paper.

How to Watch

Once you have your bracket finalized, all that’s left is to stream the games.  Here’s where the Spontaneous Pop-Up Display really comes in handy: you can connect to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone and stream the games to a high resolution, 24-inch screen!  For streaming options, check out:

  • March Madness Live App – Official NCAA app for iPhone/Android/Windows.  Live streaming of all games (paid TV subscription required for TBS, TNT, truTV games, no subscription required for CBS games).
  • CBS Sports – Free to stream the games on CBS.
  • Sling TV – Free 7-day trial, $20/month after.
  • ESPN Gamecast – Not a video, but a play-by-play text/graphical feed of every game.  It’s free, so great for keeping track of other (less interesting) games.

Good luck, and remember: when in doubt, always choose the team with the best mascot!