How To Score A March Madness Bracket

by Claire Elizabeth Felter

In the two weeks when 64 NCAA Division I men's basketball teams dwindle down to just two, March Madness pool partakers will go from "it's all fun and games" to brand new levels of desperation and indignation. And the only thing preventing total chaos among co-workers, relatives and friends during the tournament is keeping to the method agreed upon by pool participants. So here's your guide on how to score a March Madness bracket, because keeping track of every point is no joke.

A pretty standard scoring system exists for March Madness pools, and there's nothing too complicated about the method. First, in any given round of the tournament, all games receive the same number of points. So if you pick correctly for the Round of 64's California vs. Hawaii game and for the Colorado vs. Connecticut game, you would get the same value for each one.

Next, the value of points given for a correct pick goes up with every subsequent round, since guessing the winning team (generally) becomes progressively harder as the tournament goes on. Most commonly, the point values double with every round, meaning that a correct pick in the final four will get you 16 times the points you will get from a good first-round pick.

There are a few different point value combinations you can use to follow this scoring system. Yahoo, CBS, Fox Sports, and all use the same scoring system: Round of 64 picks get one point, Round of 32 picks get two points, Sweet Sixteen picks get four points, Elite Eights picks get eight points, Final Four picks get 16 points, and choosing the championship-winning team gets 32 points. ESPN basically works with the same system, but starts out with 10 points per correct pick, and ends with 320 points for the championship game.

You could, of course, go with an altogether different points system. If the people in your pool agree that so much weight shouldn't be placed on guessing the final winner, you could start out with giving one point per win in the first round, and end with 10 points for a correct final round pick. Whatever system you decide on, you'll be thankful for the structure that comes with calculating your own score as the NCAA teams work on theirs.