Fun Ways to Play March Madness other than brackets

3 Fun Alternatives to Standard March Madness Brackets

You don't have to fill out just an everyday NCAA bracket this year.

Nicky G
Nicky G

Filling out March Madness brackets is a popular pastime for college basketball fans, from the casual observer to the raving lunatic fan. It's estimated that more than 70 million brackets will be filled out this year alone.

But that may have you asking: Are there any other games I can play alongside all this great basketball action?

As it turns out, yes there are! The standard NCAA brackets aren't the only way to have fun during March Madness!

If you're looking to spice things up after years of playing traditional pool formats, you're in luck. Below, we explore three great alternatives to the standard NCAA tournament brackets commonly found on the internet (like ESPN's March Madness bracket or CBS March Madness).

Let's start with the insanely fun NCAA Tournament Head-to-Head Brackets.

March Madness Head-to-Head

Rivals battling it out

In a NCAA Tournament Bracket Head-to-Head pool each entrant is randomly assigned one team from the first round. For this game type, a maximum of 64 players are allowed (one for each team).

  • Each entry will go head-to-head with the opponent their team is playing.
  • Outcomes are based on the game's point spread, so even if you get a 16 seed in the first round you still have a chance to win.
  • If your team covers the spread, you will advance to the next round with the winning team and your opponent will be eliminated.
  • If an entrant had the underdog team and that team covers the point spread, they will get a new team in the next round.
  • The winning entry is the one who makes it to the end of the NCAA tournament.

What makes this game type great: Unexpectedness

While there is a certain amount of chaos to this pool type — given that teams are randomly assigned — that is part of its charm! Didn't think you'd ever be rooting for Michigan State, as an Ohio State fan, especially during the tournament? A Head-to-Head pool will change your entire fan experience from Selection Sunday all the way through the Final Four! Plus, this game type is especially fun for the more casual NCAA Tournament watcher.

Start a Head-to-Head Pool here >

March Madness Pick X Pools

Man holding WSU card

Picking the best NCAA Tournament teams is a lot more challenging than it may seem. Pick too many high seeds and your point total will be too low. Pick too many Cinderella teams and they might blow your chances for all of March Madness.

In a Pick X March Madness Pool the commissioner configures how many teams members pick. Then...

  • Members pick any NCAA Tournament teams out of the field of 64. No other picks are made during the tournament.
  • Every time a member's teams wins, that entrant is awarded the number of points equal to the team's seed number.
  • Note that the same teams are able to be picked by more than one pool member.
  • The winning team is the team with the most points at the end of the NCAA Tournament.

What makes this game type great: Strategy

If you've got a knack for picking Cinderella teams, this is the game for you! You'll be pulling for upset after upset as the tournament goes on. Say you pick North Carolina as a 4 seed and they win twice. That's 8 points. But if you pick Oregon State as a 9 seed and they win only once, you get 9 points! This really adds a layer of strategy that you don't see in traditional NCAA formats.

Start a Pick X Pool here >

March Madness Survivor Pools

Man eating KU sea creature

The 'Survivor' pool format is one of the most popular here at, and our Survivor Pool for March Madness is no exception.

Here are the rules for our NCAA Tournament Survivor pools:

  • Each member chooses one team each day or round (a setting that is editable by the pool's commissioner).
  • Each team can only be picked once through the NCAA tournament.
  • If a member's pick is right, they "survive" until the next day or round.
  • An incorrect pick eliminates the player from the pool for the remainder of March Madness.
  • The goal is to be the the last member standing at the end of the NCAA tournament.

What makes this game type great: Simplicity

The beauty of the Survivor pool is that it is simple enough to allow almost anyone to participate in your pool, while at the same time being challenging enough for even the biggest college basketball fan! Most folks can make it past the first few rounds, and then it gets particularly tricky as top seeds fall to lower seeds.

Start a Survivor Pool Here >

Bonus: NCAA Tournament Squares Pools

If most of your fellow March Madness lovers have seen their brackets busted or their survivor teams knocked out, another great alternative is a NCAA Squares Pool. This game type was was popularized by use during the Super Bowl, but has since become a major hit in other sports.

In this game type, your fellow pool players are either assigned a number on a ten-by-ten grid of boxes or they claim their spots.

  • Numbers on your grid will be hidden from your March Madness pool players until you decide to show them or the tournament begins, whichever one happens first.
  • Unlike a Super Bowl, where there is only one game, squares will be used by members for EVERY game, starting with whatever round you choose.
  • At the end of every game, RYP will automatically compare the last digit of both teams' score is to determine a winner.
  • We will list each individual winner as well as as aggregate count of how many times each pool member has won!

What makes this a great game type: Ease

NCAA Tournament Squares pools are virtually as foolproof as it gets. They requires absolutely no prior basketball knowledge or skill, but add a bit more electricity to each game by raising the stakes personally for every member of your pool!

In Conclusion

While RunYourPool offers the traditional NCAA bracket format, we make it just as easy to start and run any (and all) of these game types! In fact, all three of these pool types can be up and running within about 10 minutes, whether you consider yourself a basketball expert or not.

So try something new this year! A new March Madness game might be a major hit with your friends, family, or coworkers — and you never know, you might just start a new tradition!

March MadnessNCCAMGame Types

Nicky G

NCAA: WVU 🏀 & Michigan 🏈 NFL: Pats 🇺🇸 NBA: Spurs 🤠 NHL: Penguins 🐧 MLB: Orioles 😢 Now that I write this all out I finally understand my love-hate relationship with sports.