Make March More Mad: A New NCAA Tourney Pool

We’ve all got a bracket, right? Good. The bracket is great. It’s the most fun wager you can make. You have 63 opportunities to feel the rush of a win. If you’re good (and lucky) enough you may even win your pool and with it a ton of cash and bragging rights. There are, however some drawbacks to the bracket. It’s a slow burn. Even after a brilliant first day you’re still 47 games away from the end. If you find yourself on the wrong side of a day one upset, you’re cooked. Having a live bracket is great, but having a dead one can really tarnish the March Madness experience. My suggestion is a pool that exists alongside your bracket and enhances your March Madness gambling experience.

Here’s a pool that provides moment to moment action during the NCAA Tournament. A pool that revolves around the results of individual games and performances. This pool can be executed at any time during the NCAA Tournament, but it’s perfect for the first two days. It’s a great fit for your all day basketball binge. Plus, now that every game is televised it is easy to whip around to the games that are most compelling for what is now a variety of reasons.

Here’s the breakdown.

The pool is based around the highest scorer in each game. It works well with 4–8 participants. In this example I have 6.

  • Buy-in — You decide. I am going to use $1 per person per game for a total of $16
  • Each participant is randomly assigned one of the top three scorers from each team for each game. I use the random list generator at
  • Whoever draws the number 1 spot gets the top scorer from the higher seeded team. The 2 slot gets the highest score on the lower seed. 3 gets the 2nd leading score on the top seed. And so on.
  • This randomization is repeated for each game.

Here’s a handy guide for all of the players playing in Thursday’s games.

  • If a participant is assigned a player that is not active for the game that person then has the field (all the remaining unassigned players) for that game. If there are two participants who have players who are not active, the person with the higher spot on the list gets the rest of the non-assigned players on the top seed. The person with the lower draw gets the rest of the non-assigned players on the lower seed.
  • The participant with the highest scoring player in each game wins $5
  • The participant with the highest cumulative score for the day wins $16

Pretty simple, right?

Here’s a look at the final grid that I will be using tomorrow.

There it is. Last year was the first time I tried this out and it was a great experience. It works in close games and blowouts. Take it, try it out, tweak it, pass along your feedback and suggestions. Let’s work together to make March Madness even more fun.

Feel free to reach out to me at if you’d like blank forms to try this out on you own.