The first games have tipped off and a couple of upsets may already be in the books. The 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament —better known as March Madness — is underway and it is time to stop filling out brackets and start scoring them.
The first round of the NCAA tournament kicked off Thursday as Duke v. University of North Carolina at Wilmington got started at 12 p.m. EDT. Fans now forced to make peace with their hastily filled out brackets may be curious how to score and keep track of their picks.
Every bracket pool is subject to its own custom rules, but the majority of pools — and the pools on most major sports websites — are scored by doubling the points each game is worth in each successive round. So, correct picks in the initial Round of 64 earn one point, correct picks in the Round of 32 earn two points, Sweet Sixteen picks get four points, Elite Eight picks get eight points, Final Four picks get 16 points, and choosing the championship-winning team correctly nets a whopping 32 points.
Some websites vary in what value is initially used for a correct pick — ESPN starts with 10 points for correct picks in the Round of 64 — but still use the same proportionally increasing system. That system means it is much more valuable to accurately pick the few teams that will go far in the tournament than it is to get each game in the early rounds correct.
Fans will have to follow the actual games to score their brackets. CBS, which broadcasts the tournament, updates the scores and its own bracket live on its website, so fans can easily follow along. Fans can also watch every game of the tournament on television or via streaming.
Of course, that will not necessarily help fans determine how they are faring in pools against other players. Luckily, ESPN, CBS, Yahoo, and most major sites all have live-updating standings available by logging into the specific pool's homepage (accessible by either logging into your account on the site's homepage or following a link to the pool that the site sent out in an email). That way, fans can track their bracket score against other fans in their pool. Unfortunately, fans participating in a DIY office pool might just have to do the math themselves in between games.
The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament continues through April. The championship game, which will determine most brackets, will be held on April 4 in Houston, Texas.