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You’ve filled out your bracket. You’ve submitted it to your co-worker assembling the office pool. You’re fully prepared to rip up your bracket when your Iowa State-Virginia-Harvard-South Florida Final Four pick goes horribly wrong.

We do the same old song and dance every NCAA Tournament, hoping to garner workplace bragging rights for the next year.

And it is awesome.

We’re in no way suggesting you shouldn’t keep it up. But if you’re up for an alternative way to match wits for March Madness, here are suggestions of how to spice up the competitive spirit (Note: don’t worry yourself with the First Four last night and tonight. Wait until Thursday to start playing.)

Player Pool

This is a Quad-City Times newsroom favorite. For each of the tournament’s three weekends, you must choose five players, who will accrue scoring based on how many points, rebounds and assists they tally during their one or two games that weekend. You may only select each individual once during the tournament.

Two pieces of advice: don’t use up the players from the best teams until later (i.e. Anthony Davis of Kentucky is a likely Final Four participant), and try to grab players whose teams are likely to play twice; in other words, who has favorable round of 64, Sweet 16 and Final Four matchups.

Pick 10

There are 68 teams in the bracket. Your mission is to pre-select 10 teams who you believe will overachieve based on their seed.

Once you have your 10 teams, they accrue points throughout their tournament run. For each victory, you multiply the winning team’s seed by the round in which it won. (Note: for easy math, count the round of 64 as the first round and the round of 32 as the second round. The Sweet 16 is the third round.)

For instance, if you pick No. 1 North Carolina, and the Tar Heels win it all, UNC is worth a total of 21 points. (1x1, plus 1x2, plus 1x3, etc. up to 1x6.) If you pick No. 10 Purdue, and the Boilermakers advance to the Sweet 16, that’s worth a total of 30 points. So don’t only choose the favorites — take some risks!

Reset button

Instead of filling out your traditional bracket before the tourney tips off and praying your long-shot upsets pay off, you make picks round by round. After Friday’s second-round games are completed, you then tab winners based on which teams made the round of 32. This is a way to bust the notion of busting your bracket.

Scoring is flexible; it could be a point for each correct pick, or you could even integrate a confidence aspect, where you assess more points to the games you’re more sure you have right.

Against the spread

For the Vegas-minded, you parcel off a group of games and choose against the oddsmakers. You might be certain Missouri will knock off Norfolk State, but will the Tigers prevail by at least 22 points? You get a point for each game you peg correctly, if the final score agrees with you.


Similar to NFL games, you pick one and only one winner on each day of the tournament (of which there are 10, from Thursday’s second round to the championship on April 2.) You’d better be confident in that one team, because if they lose, you’re out. If they win, you go on to the next day.

Here’s the catch: Just like the player pool, you can only pick the same team once. Therefore, if Michigan State battles Ohio State in the title game, and you already used up the Spartans and Buckeyes, you’re done by default!

Happy picking, and enjoy the Madness.


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