Skip to content

How to run the perfect NCAA Tournament pool

Mar 17, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

source:

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 we at CBT have 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.

College Basketball Talk will also be hosting an NCAA Tournament Pool over at Yahoo!’s Bracket Games, and you can join it right here.

PREVIEWSEast Region  |  South Region  |  Midwest Region  |  West Region

WHAT SHOULD YOU PLAY FOR? This is a question I receive from friends all the time. If you’re catering towards a casual audience that includes your relatives and co-workers that know little about college basketball then $5 is probably your best bet. If you’re more into the college basketball scene and want to weed out that co-worker that knows nothing from winning your pool and embarrassing you, then $20 might be best to scare away the pretenders.

Not into gambling for money? That’s cool, there are plenty of other ways you can gamble in an NCAA Tournament pool besides putting your hard-earned dollars on the line. Maybe bet some push-ups and sit-ups since beach season is approaching (you should probably do them anyway, that Holiday weight is still gripping those love handles), or a lunch or dinner, or tickets to a game next season. You can always get creative when it comes to bragging rights after beating everyone in a bracket pool.

WHAT SHOULD THE SCORING SYSTEM BE? Some pools feature straight scoring for most overall correct picks — one point per game, all games — or the standard escalating points that doubles for each round.

Some have even gotten creative with the escalating points system over the years and changed around the numbers to reflect more importance on certain rounds.

I prefer the escalating points that double for each round:

Round of 64: 1 point

Round of 32: 2 points

Sweet 16: 4 points

Elite Eight: 8 points

Final Four: 16 points

Title Game: 32 points

This is the easiest way to escalate scoring with casual fans while also fairly giving people who predicted champions or Final Four teams a fair shake if they have a poor first-round showing.

Want a unique tiebreaker besides picking the final score of the title game? Force people to get their picks in on Tuesday before the First Four games in Dayton and make each of those games worth 1/2 of a point. With those four games, that’s two potential bonus points given to people who put their bracket in early and then you don’t have to text them an hour before tip-off on Thursday asking for their picks.

MORE8 teams that can win it all  |  TV times  |  Bracket contest

SHOULD YOU ALLOW PEOPLE TO BUY-IN WITH MULTIPLE BRACKETS? No.

Never.

People that enter multiple brackets — besides joke entries like mascot brackets — are people who you shouldn’t associate with. Period. These are the same people who sandbag your evening plans by waffling on which restaurant to go to or which movie to see. They can’t make decisions so they waste everyone’s time. This is America’s event and you should be overconfident to a fault with your single bracket like everyone else.

HOW SHOULD YOU SEND THE INITIAL EMAIL/WELCOME LETTER? NCAA Tournament pools have reached such epic proportions that half the time it feels like you have no idea which pool you’re even entering. We’ve all entered that friend of a friend’s pool and you quickly have no idea who anyone is or what your connection is to the pool itself.

If you’re running a pool, take a second to introduce yourself and what you and your pool are about before you demand total strangers to send $20 over Paypal or Chase Quickpay.

Put a contact email address or phone number, maybe even a Twitter handle. Explain when people can expect payouts, how they’ll receive payouts and what the payout breakdown will be. Tell people when they can expect scoring updates or any other vital messages. A little communication and common courtesy never hurt anybody and the people in your pool that don’t necessarily know you will have a higher comfort level in joining and staying in your pool in future years.

Well, there you have it. Some tips on running an ideal NCAA Tournament Pool.

Have some creative ideas of your own? We’d love to hear them in the comments section. And best of luck in your March Madness Pool endeavors.

Latest Posts
  1. The Ray Kasongo saga takes another turn on Wednesday

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    kasongo

    Ray Kasongo was denied admission from Oregon on July 30, reopening his recruitment.

  2. Northern Illinois unveils its new basketball floor (PHOTO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT

    Twitter/NIUAthletics Twitter/NIUAthletics

    This new court design is interesting to say the least.

  3. Report: Wichita State to play in early season tournaments in 2015, 2016, 2017

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Take a look at what tournaments the Shockers will appear in over the next few years.

  4. Four-star 2015 guard Jimmy Whitt commits to Arkansas

    Aug 19, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT

    Under Armour Under Armour

    Jimmy Whitt is ranked just outside the top 50 in the Class of 2015.

  5. Highlights from the 2014 Nike Global Challenge (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Stephen Zimmerman averaged 17.5 points, 11.5 boards and 2.2 blocks per game in four games at the Nike Global Challenge.

  6. Nicholls State adds the son of a Syracuse legend to their 2014 class

    Aug 19, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Nicholls State may have a large, orange-clad fan base these days.

  7. John Calipari on whether Kentucky will use platoons this season: ‘I think so’

    Aug 19, 2014, 3:04 PM EDT

    Kentucky Athletics Kentucky Athletics

    It’s how they played through their six games in the Bahamas.

  8. VCU lands a commitment from talented local guard

    Aug 19, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT

    Nike/Jon Lopez Nike/Jon Lopez

    Shaka Smart brings in a perfect piece and that was a priority recruit.

  9. Photos and videos from Team USA’s trip to West Point

    Aug 19, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 12.32.00 PM

    It looks like everyone had a great time.

  10. Short film on an American basketball player in the AFL (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 11:09 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 11.08.20 AM

    Jason Holmes is a pro athlete in a sport he never heard of.

  11. Mixtape of high-flying 2015 guard Christian James (VIDEO)

    Aug 18, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    christian james

    Christian James is one of the better dunkers in the 2015 class.

  12. Former Vanderbilt player releasing book exposing sex, drugs and parties in college basketball

    Aug 18, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    kyle fuller Getty Images

    A former Vanderbilt player is hoping to release a book discussing the dirtier side of college basketball.

  13. Ohio State releases non-conference schedule

    Aug 18, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT

    Thad Matta AP

    Ohio State has some interesting games in the non-conference slate.

  14. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery: ‘We have great kids. We don’t have thugs’

    Aug 18, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    Fran McCaffery AP

    Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery defended some of his player’s recent offseason troubles.

  15. Sexual assault lawsuit filed against 2014 NCAA Tournament team, alleging Title IX violations

    Aug 18, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    swilling Getty Images

    Some more disturbing allegations are levied against a 2014 NCAA Tournament team.

  16. College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

    Aug 18, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    This week’s CBT Recruiting Roundup features some thoughts on Noah Dickerson to Florida and a couple of 2015 guards cutting school lists.

  17. Report: There’s ‘a chance’ Georgetown will play Maryland

    Aug 18, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT

    John Thompson III AP

    The two programs haven’t played on one another’s home court in two decades.

  18. Nebraska lands two players on Monday, including a Kansas transfer

    Aug 18, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

    Andrew White III AP

    Nebraska has added a player in the Class of 2017 and a top 50 recruit from 2012 in the span of a few hours.