The 2016 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is set to begin in a matter of days, and now is the time to get your hands on a bracket to make your picks and rule your office or friendly pool.
The 68-team tournament is technically scheduled to start on Tuesday with No. 11 seeds Vanderbilt and Wichita State starting the First Four matchups, but before you start filling out and handing in your brackets its important to fully understand your pool’s rules and scoring system.
While the Commodores and Shockers, as well as their fans, care very much about their opening matchup many pools do not count the First Four games in their scoring.
Most often points are tabulated starting with the first round and pool runners don’t expect to see finished brackets until Wednesday, when the first round officially starts. Every pool is different, but more than likely the first round will be worth one or two points, and the values typically double with each subsequent round. Other pools also give extra points for picking upsets, but its usually just one or two extra points.
But that doesn’t make the First Four matchups entirely irrelevant, especially when it comes to upset-minded teams like Wichita State and Florida Gulf Coast. The Shockers, Commodores, Michigan Wolverines, and Tulsa Golden Hurricane are all No. 11 seeds playing in the First Four, and each could spoil a number of brackets with a first-round upset and go deep into the tournament.
However, over the last few years the No. 1 seeds. or the chalk, have been quite reliable and no pool player should overlook any of them. The Kansas Jayhawks own the No. 1 seed in the South region, the North Carolina Tar Heels are No. 1 in the East, while the Virginia Cavaliers are No. 1 in the Midwest, and the Oregon Ducks rule the West region.
The tournament is beloved for its unpredictability and wild nature, but the best strategy often involves applying a mix of No. 1 seeds with squads as low as No. 7 or No. 8 making it past the first weekend into the Sweet 16.
If you haven’t downloaded a bracket yet or just need an extra, and having an extra to score yourself is always a good way to past time in between games, click here for our downloadable bracket.