The year is 2022 and for some reason you want printable March Madness brackets.
Sure, with modern technology, it’s a little antiquated. A little outdated. But we get it — sometimes you wanna get your blacksmith, chimney sweep, cobbler, and soap-maker together and put your quill pen to parchment by whale-fat candlelight.
While the practice of filling out paper brackets for college basketball is somewhat old, you’re here.
So hike up your pantaloons and start with the basics below.
How To Use Get Your Own Printable NCAA Tournament Brackets
1) Simply sign up below. We'll send you a confirmation email to make sure you're not a robot. (Be sure to check your spam folder if you don't see it in your inbox).
2) Once all the conference tournaments have completed and selection committee has made its picks on Selection Sunday, we’ll send you an email (after Selection Sunday, we'll automatically send it your way). Open this email. Inside the email you’ll see a link. Click that link. You’ll be taken to page that is hosting your high resolution printable brackets for the men's basketball tournament. (Please note that the play-in games will not be included in the 64-team setup).
3) Be sure you’re hooked up to your printer — whichever kind of printer it may be — and hit CTRL + P to print on a PC or Command + P for a Mac computer.
4) If you’re using a standard printer, you can print out your March Madness brackets on regular paper. However, if you want to make them a little more durable for when you light them on fire in frustration, you can print them on heavier paper or even cardstock.
5) Use pencil (not pen). Makes erasing your wrong picks easier. (Need some help with the basics of The Big Dance? We’ve got you covered here.)
6) Fill it out, all the way from the first round until the Final Four (you'll skip the First Four games), through the National Championship game, choosing each team you think will win. Stop to admire your work.
7) Do a nice stretch to warm up your pitching arm. (We recommend this article for proper technique.) Now ball the paper up or make a nice paper airplane out of it.
8) Toss/fly that bad boy right into the trash.
9) Prepare to enter the 21st Century. Deep breathing works well.
Obviously, the last four steps are optional.
The History of Printable March Madness Brackets
In case you were wondering: The history of printable NCAA tournament brackets is actually far more interesting than paper brackets themselves.
As we’ve suggested, printable brackets have been around for a long time. They took their idea from chess tournament setups which were believed to pre-date old-timey bracketology by about 100 years.
The first printable NCAA bracket was actually released in 1939. It was a simple 8-team bracket — the original Elite Eight, if you please — and it was only available as a hand-drawn chart. This was just a single-elimination chart, with no regional brackets. The teams were simply listed in order of their seeding, and the winner of each game would advance to the next round.
It’s sort of fun to imagine a world where gents with wax in their mustachios were discussing their official bracket picks over a nice tobacco pipe.
“Why I do believe Indiana shall triumph over Michigan, indeed!”
"I do believe Purdue and Rutgers shall find their way into the National Championship!"
“Why Lester, I must fulsomely dissent with your assertion! I believe my men from Kansas will triumph in the end! Bully!”
The first printed NCAA bracket appeared two years later, in 1941. It was a simple four-page booklet that listed all the teams in the tournament. The bracket was not very detailed, and it did not include any matchups or game times.
In 1951, the NCAA introduced regional brackets, which divided the teams into four regions (East, Midwest, South, and West) and what you might call the modern era of brackets began. This allowed for more teams to participate in the tournament, and it also created a more complex bracket system.
The field doubled to 32 in 1975 and then, in 1985, the the 64-team tournament was born. (This just so happened to be the first year the 45-second shot clock was introduced).
In 1977, the first known betting on the tournament took place in a local bar in Staten Island, New York, called Jody’s Club Forest (which is still around!). There was an even a $10 entry fee (which in 1977 was a lot more than $10 gets you these days).
In 1979, the NCAA began seeding the teams, which meant that the higher-ranked teams were given easier matchups in the early rounds. This added another layer of complexity to the bracket, and it made it even more important for teams to earn high rankings.
Today, the NCAA tournament bracket is one of the most complex brackets in all of sports. It is a 64-team single-elimination chart, with four regions and 16 teams in each region. The teams are seeded 1 through 16, and the winner of each game advances to the next round.
The complexity and sharability of NCAA brackets are why, in the end, it’s always better to make your bracket digital online.
That’s what we keep telling you!
Fans of College Basketball love RunYourPool
If you are thinking of ditching that printable bracket for an online alternative like CBS or ESPN, remember that RunYourPool isn't a media company masking itself as a March Madness brackets company. We make brackets because college basketball games are our lifeblood.
Oh and if you're wondering who we like in the Elite 8 this year... think any of these teams and you can't go wrong: Gonzaga, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon State, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.
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