2011 March Madness® Brackets Contests

Yeah, I know the NCAA® registered the name, March Madness®. Let the ’em sue me for using it without their permission. This not a comprehensive list. There are others designed specifically for handheld devices, and I saw at least three which could be downloaded at iTunes or the Apple App store. Nearly every sports radio station, sports website, offshore gambling casino has their own.

Before we start, courtesy of the invaluable The506.com, here's a schedule for the tournament showing each game, the network it's on, and the announcing team. For those who want a prettier listing, here's the official NCAA list of games and networks, sans the announcing teams. I redid this chart for myself, changing all the times into Pacific Daylight Time. My chart lists the teams, their seeds, region, time, network, and announcing team. [Tuesday night update: I reinserted Eastern Daylight Time. The chart now displays EDT and PDT. And I’m updating the game match-ups with the results from the play-in games. My lawyer told me to remind you all that I am human so if I made any mistakes, it's your fault for not double-checking on your own.]

All contests require registration, so I suggest signing up early. You probably want to submit your brackets early to prevent getting locked out by heavy traffic on Thursday morning. Most contests permit you to start a bracket and save it without submitting, so you can do it in parts.

Some of these contest sites provide a bracket you can print out. Here’s an Excel spreadsheet bracket, courtesy of CollegeHoops.net. They also offer a PDF version and they have their own bracket contest. [Tuesday night update: their contest appears to be closed. When I went to register, it says “Bracket Entry is now locked.“]

Let’s start with the official March Madness® NCAA Men’s Bracket Challenge, on SI.com. It doesn’t say what the prizes are without signing in. Also has a printable bracket. [Tuesday night update: this contest permits up to five separate entries, with one bracket per entry. No prizes are listed -- or if they are, they’re hidden. Deadline is Thursday, 30 minutes before tip-off. There are some nice features even if you don't enter, including interactive brackets so you can try out different scenarios. I think I may submit an entry here based purely on Mascot vs. Mascot.]

CBS Sports Bracket Challenge.
First Prize: a trip for four to the 2012 Final Four®. CBS is the official broadcast host of March Madness©. This site also has a Round by Round contest which allows you to submit new picks after each round, so you don't get eliminated early, and a Bracket Manager which you can use for your own friendly bracket contests. [Tuesday night update: this contest closes at 11 AM EDT/8 AM PDT. And don't forget the Round-by-Round contest which lets you update your brackets after each round.]

If you think you can pick all 64 winners perfectly, FoxSports.com’s $1,000,000 Bracket Challenge, sponsored by Hooter’s. Second prize is a 60" Westinghouse HDTV and a month’s worth of Hooter’s wings. BracketContest.com also offers a $1,000,000 First Prize for an unblemished bracket. [Tues... etc. This contest closes on Thursday morning Noon EDT/9 AM PDT. If you win the million, they pay it out as an annuity over 40 years.]

Yahoo Tourney Pick ’em
Looks like the best all-round site. Top prize is ten grand, but like some others, you'll cash a cool million if you pick all 63 games correctly. It also has a good bracket manager for your own competition among friends, but you can join an one of their established groups based on your alma mater or other criteria and pick against them. (No individual prizes for winning any one group, though.) Best of all, it has a Scenario calculator in which you make a few choices, and it generates selections based on those choices. [You know what this is by now... This contest closes at tip-off Thursday morning.]

The New York Times Bracket Contest.
First prize, two iPads, one for the Men’s bracket and one for the Women’s. [Contest closes 11:30 AM EDT, 8:30 AM PDT.]

ESPN Tournament Challenge.
First prize is $10 grand, second place is $5 grand. [Thursday tip-off.]

Coke Zero NCAA Bracket Challenge sponsored by Chili‘s.
First prize, a luxury trip for four to the 2012 Final Four®. Other prizes include an LG HGTV, free Chili’s Food. [Thursday: 11 AM EDT/8 AM PDT.]

The cheap skates at USA Today’s March Mania contest put up less than two grand in prizes (First Prize, $1500, Second, $250, Third=$100) Their Bracket Central features printable brackets and a bracket manager for your personal contests. [Thursday: Noon EDT/ AM PDT.]

This information presented for entertainment only. No gambling, please.


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