The Men’s 2011 NCAA basketball tournament brackets will be finalized Sunday, March 13. If you’re looking for a free online contest to enter, look at the options below. While printable brackets are always fun to work on, many websites run free NCAA basketball tournament contests and bracket challenges that can not only help you organize your 2011 office bracket contest, but also potentially award nice prizes.
There is a wide variety of NCAA basketball tournament contests to choose from, so a little information on how the different free contests stack up against each other will save valuable time picking a contest that could be better used filling out your printable bracket-or working. Below are some of the best sites running free NCAA basketball tournament contests, along with some helpful information that should help you decide which is the best one for you.
To be clear, there’s no gambling involved with these sites. They’re free to enter, fun to play, easy to set up private groups, and award some nice prizes.
ESPN Tournament Challenge
ESPN has the biggest contest and one of the slickest interfaces. They boast a $10,000 grand prize and $1,000,000 “perfect bracket” prize. You can even fill out ten brackets. Users can create private groups for friends or office, but ESPN won’t stop people from entering multiple brackets into the same group, so you’ll have to lay out any ground rules when you invite people. ESPN is probably the most popular contest, but that means more competition for the top prizes.
Yahoo! Tourney Pick ‘Em
Yahoo! has top prizes rivaling ESPN’s: $10,000 for first place and $1,000,000 for a perfect bracket. Groups are easy to create and invite players. However, Yahoo! allows players to fill out only five brackets. Yahoo! may even have more free sports analysis and research than ESPN. Note that even people who aren’t avid sports fans may already have a Yahoo! I.D., which may increase participation. Your friends may be more willing to play if they don’t have to create a new account, even if it’s a totally free one.
USA Today March Mania
The USA Today website has a lower top prize ($1,500) and allows entrants to fill out up to 3 brackets. However, its differences from the bigger two contests may make it a more attractive option: Entrants cannot enter more than one of their three entries into the same group. This is helpful if your goal is to restrict a large group of friends to one entry each, but still want a chance to fill out additional brackets. March Mania’s scoring system differs somewhat from other contest, including awarding bonus points for picking upsets. This may make the picking process either more challenging or more fun (or both).
CBS Sports Bracket Manager
Creating groups in CBS is easy, and the scoring is straightforward. And since CBS broadcasts the tournament, there’s no shortage of coverage for any game you want. However, the top prize isn’t given to the best bracket, it’s awarded via random drawing from among the top-scoring 10% of entries. CBS is the perhaps the only contest that doesn’t (necessarily) award anything to the overall top scorer. That said, if you simply want to compete against your friends, and you’re satisfied filling out only one bracket, it’s an attractive interface that’s easy to use.