March madness pools

A Quick & Dirty Guide to Running Your Own March Madness Bracket

We break down all the basic things you need to know about the NCAA tourney for beginners!

Nicky G
Nicky G

New to the concept of March Madness, brackets, and running your own NCAA pool? That's great! We're more than thrilled to have you on board! Running a March Madness bracket is a fantastic way to bond with friends, family, and coworkers and deepen your enjoyment of this amazing time in the sports calendar.

Today, we're going to break down everything you need to know the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball tournament — affectionally known as "March Madness" — focusing on the most basic concepts of the tourney and the bracket-picking game more than 100 million Americans play every year.

With the help of our unique and simple-to-use basketball pool management system, pool commissioners don't need to spend all their time running the admin either. It's as easy as setup the pool up and sending your invitations, and that's about it.

But first, let's go into the basics, starting with Day 1 of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tourney: Selection Sunday.

How Does Selection Sunday Work?

Teams don’t just ask to go to the frenzy of NCAA March Madness!

Each team undergoes a selection process to qualify. They are then put into a ranking process known as seeding, so teams that had better regular seasons are rewarded for their efforts with easier first-round matchups. There are four "regions" — the East, South, West and MidWest — and each team is "seeded," or ranked, within its region from 1 to 16, with a 1 seed playing a 16 seed, a 2 seed playing a 15 seed and so on.

This exciting process of both team selection and seed selection culminates on Selection Sunday, when the NCAA selection committee reveals the who, what, and when of the tournament. Starting this year, the women’s tournament will also be announced on Selection Sunday.

This year, Selection Sunday falls on March 13.

How Does The NCAA Pick Teams?

Thirty-two of the 68 March Madness teams get automatic entry because they won their conference’s championship. The remaining teams need to hope for an at-large bid extended by the NCAA.

At-large bids effectively look at which teams are the best 'almost’ from each conference as determined by the selection committee. The idea is to have the best of the best teams compete for an exciting, thrilling match each time!

How Much Time Do You Have To Start Your Pool?

In this case it depends on pool choices.

Most pool commissioners will actually begin setting up their pool before Selection Sunday, because once Selection Sunday hits us, there are only a few days until action starts and pools will lock when action starts.

Typically, March Madness commissioners will lock pools for the first round of 64 teams. This year, the first round of 64 will be played on March 17, while a play-in round knows as the First Four (the four lowest-ranked at-large bids and the four lowest-ranked automatic bids play) begins earlier on March 15.

(Note: The vast majority of March Madness pools will skip the First Four round because it only allows for two days between Selection Sunday and pools locking — not a very large window for their members to join and make their picks).

Who Typically Plays March Madness Pick'Em?

Anyone can play pick pools, often called March Madness Pick’Em! And given their ease, it's estimated that more than 100 million people fill out brackets every year. While casual pools are common among friends, businesses and large companies have begun using the NCAA tourney as a great team-building exercise with their companies (more on that here).

One of the other great things about the tournament is that many people play and win without much "in-depth" basketball knowledge. Some pickers make their March Madness selections based on team colors, mascots, names, locations, and any number of off-the-wall methods. And in many ways, these methods are just as valid as picking teams after decades of following and understanding all the intricacies of basketball.

How Do March Madness Brackets Work?

The idea is easy. You earn points through picking the winner of each match through the tournament. The person running the pool (often called a commissioner) can decide on the scoring system or use RunYourPool's default scoring system — which is most typical.

How Long Does March Madness Last?

March Madness typically runs 3 weeks from mid-March into early April. The 2022 dates will see Selection Sunday on March 13th, 2022, and the NCAA Championship Game will be played on April 4th.

Why Do Millions Use RunYourPool for the NCAA Basketball Tournament?

Running your March Madness tournament has never been easier than RYP's bracket!

We don’t just help with brackets, but for the more industrious types we offer survivor pools, squares pools, and head-to-head pools, too.

Let us help you extend the excitement of the family or office pool without the hassles, hard work, and pains of running one by hand. Host your pool online through and let our easy, intuitive pool management service work for you.

We offer a host of configuration options so you can play your way, but the setup is by far the easiest. Let members make picks online through our pick sheets, set automatic deadlines for pick lock downs, and leverage our real-time updates and detailed reporting to make your life as pool commissioner so much easier. There’s custom branding, white-glove customer service, and even a private message board facility for you to add the fun and banter back to your March Madness pool!

So if you're keen to relax, enjoy, and take the hassle out of your office or friend March Madness pool, RunYourPool is always here to help!

NCAAMMarch Madness

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.