March Madness pools

March Madness pools are a form of sports betting based on the annual NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship each spring in the United States. The public's increasing interest in this event is fostered by March Madness pools, or brackets. A bracket is a form that can be completed on-line or printed out and completed by hand whereby the participant predicts the outcome of each game in the tournament. His or her predictions are compared against others in the pool, and whoever has the best prognostication skills wins the contest.
Tournament bids
Sixty-eight different teams line up with a shot to win the national title. It's not just the best 65 teams from among the more than 300 teams that play Division I basketball, though. Teams are split into 31 conferences, and each of those conferences has an automatic bid. Every conference except the Ivy League plays a season-ending conference tournament, and gives the automatic bid to the winner. The Ivy League plays no tournament[1], so they give their bid to their regular season champion. The other 34 teams are chosen by a selection committee. They are called at-large bids, and they generally go to the 34 most deserving teams. Obviously it is a very difficult job to pick the 34 best teams, and the process is very subjective and can be very controversial.
The NCAA is exploring the idea of expanding the field of 65. This would make the process of selecting teams even more difficult.[2]
The two worst teams in the tournament play in a special play-in game on the Tuesday before the tournament.[3] The rest of the field is split into four groups of 16 teams, and those groups are seeded from one to 16. The top team in each group plays the 16th team, the second plays the 15th and so on. The winners of each game goes on to the next round and so on until only one team is standing. A team is knocked out of the tournament and has to go home as soon as they lose once, so the pressure is incredibly intense.
The tournament takes place over three weekends starting soon after the middle of March.
Perhaps the biggest key to the tremendous popularity of the tournament is the bracket. The March Madness bracket is the grid of all the teams in the tournament and the path they have to follow to the Final Four and the championship game. Filling out a bracket with the winners of each of the 63 games in the tournament is an incredibly difficult task, but it is very fun to try to do, and it creates endless debates and competition. Every year there are more and more places for you to fill out a bracket online to compete against everyone else out there. It's a great competition because the person who knows the most doesn't necessarily have an edge on winning the tournament because upsets are so common and the results are so unpredictable. Virtually every office, school or other workplace has some sort of pool where people fill out a bracket and throw in a few bucks at a chance to win the big pot.
Some March Madness contests are free to enter, others require an entry fee. Many businesses utilize pool hosting services to run their pools, allowing them the flexibility to customize the pool rules and display.[4]
In March 2011, Best Damn Pools will offer the first cash-to-enter pool for March Madness that is free to manage.[5]

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