The 68 team NCAA division 1 tournament is back, after being one of the first sporting events to fall victim to the pandemic in 2020. So the hype for March Madness returns in 2021, and the fans are more excited than ever.
I’ve made the decision that I’ll be committing to the tournament this year, and making it the first year in which I’ll be fully investing myself into this extremely popular tournament, in which 68 teams compete for the D1 National Championship. So I thought it would make sense to give you guys all the information you need to be able to enjoy the tournament too… and information on the Undrafted sweepstake!
How does the tournament work?
So technically, it’s a 68 team tournament, as 8 teams compete initially for qualification in the final 64. A ‘penultimate’ round if you will. This is called the First Four. And those games are as follows:
The winners of these four games will be added into the 64 team bracket, which will then begin on Friday 19th March! So it all kicks off this week!
It’s then a very straight forward 64 team knockout, single game format, winner advances. It’s such a unique way to decide the National Champion every year, especially when you consider the NBA format, in which every playoff match up is a best of 7. So to flip the switch and have these single game knockouts is very different, and a LOT of fun.
How do you qualify for the 68?
You would automatically qualify for the tournament if you win your conference tournament. Usually this would consist of 32 teams taking automatic qualification. However this year that has been slightly adjusted to 31, as the Ivy League cancelled their season.
The rest of the teams are decided by committee and are known as ‘at large’ teams. There’s no real direct formula for the selections, but algorithms and formula are used to help make these decisions, and thus the 68 is born.
Teams are then placed into brackets in an S-curve format. Essentially you have four mini brackets in the one mega bracket, and the top four seeded teams will be placed in said S curve format.
Gonzaga are the number one seed, and the Bulldogs enter the tournament as the only unbeaten team up until this point (26-0). So they’re placed in the first bracket. 2nd ranked Baylor (22-4) will be placed in the second bracket. Illinois are ranked third (23-6) in the third bracket, and then fourth ranked Michigan (20-4), begin the fourth and final mini bracket. This way of seeding the brackets then continues throughout the rest of the teams, and the stage is set.
The first four match ups are decided between the four lowest seeded teams who won automatic qualification, and the four lowest seeded at large teams, and of course the winners of those four games will make their way into the final 64.
This year the whole tournament will be played in Indiana this year, as opposed to various locations around the US, to limit the risks with the pandemic not quite in the rear view mirror yet.
The Final Bracket!
Here is the bracket for the tournament, which will help you follow the tournament:
As you can see, the teams in each sub bracket are ranked from 1-16, which will help give you an indication of the seedings and chances your sweepstake team might have of winning the whole tournament!
How can I watch it?
Ahh the pivotal question. Of course from the UK, you’ll need access to somehow watch the tournament. So here’s your options!
The best and easiest way, which I would fully recommend, is with ESPN Player. You can sign up for £9.99 for the month, and that will give you access to the tournament in full. Every game is being streamed through ESPN Player, so you won’t miss a match up, and can follow your sweepstake team easily!
The March Madness schedule? Right here:
So let’s have some fun. We’ll run this through the Facebook group, so make sure you drop us a comment if you fancy a spot! We’ll run this at £3 a spot, 64 spots, and Undrafted will top that £192 up if it fills, to £240. Then the winner will take £200 home, and second place will take £40!. So let’s fill this up, tell your wife, your dog, your friends, your goldfish, whoever. Let’s have ourselves a March Madness, and we’ll make this an annual Undrafted event going forward.
The Perfect Bracket?
Something else you should have a go at. You can try and predict the outcome of the NCAA March Madness bracket, with some absolutely ludicrous odds.
Your chances of correctly predicting the bracket in full are 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Yup.
There’s a brilliant article on this on the NCAA website, which you should take a look at, these really are some crazy odds!
And finally, here’s a video to get you really hyped up about March Madness…