8 last-minute brackets for March Madness procrastinators


If you’re in the “Oh crap, my bracket’s due in 22 minutes” camp, or the “I don’t really know much this year but still want to enter my pool” one, or any other procrastinator camp — you have found your solution.

We took eight strategies and filled out a bracket for each (by hand!), from “chalk” to “chalk with a twist of Bracket Breaker likely upsets” all the way down to “what if these were football teams?” Whatever your speed or knowledge of the game, you will find something here that can be clicked on, downloaded and even printed if that’s your style — and shouldn’t raise too much suspicion since it’s all hand-written for you. Some even have “I changed my mind” cross-outs to prove your innocence! Or you could print a blank bracket and write in the suggestions yourself.

So scan below, pick your poison and good luck in your pool!

1. Chalk

We took the higher seed in each matchup and advanced them every time.

chalk scaled

2. Chalk with a twist of Bracket Breakers

We took our chalk bracket and then consulted the Bracket Breakers’ Slingshot model, creating an upset for every game that had a 25+ percent chance of happening. Jordan and Peter gave us a preview of all the second-round scenarios that could then arise, and we advanced the upsets that had a 30+ percent chance of happening there. McNeese, in particular, has a 42 percent-ish chance of advancing to the Sweet 16 if they face Kansas in the second round. (They advanced in our bracket below anyway because Samford has a 30.1 percent chance of beating Kansas in the first round, and we advanced them on that chance.)

chalk with bracketbreakers update scaled

3. Austin Mock’s Simulation No. 2 out of 1,000,000

Austin Mock, our projections expert, has a model that runs 1 million simulations to generate predictions for the Tournament outcomes. We asked him to send us one simulation that had some weird stuff happening. I think we specifically asked for “something like an 8 seed in there.” It just so happened that the second simulation — out of a million — that his model ran turned out this beauty, with a Final Four of Nebraska, Tennessee, Iowa State and eventual champ Clemson.

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  4. C.J. Moore’s bracket

If you want to know why he did what he did, he explains it all here.

cj moore scaled

5. The “cool kids” bracket

If you read enough X, or our comment sections, or just ingest the right buzz, you’ll pick up on a few teams that all the “cool” kids are on. This is how we imagine a culturally hip, extremely online person would annoyingly fill out their bracket — a lot of McNeese (although, in retrospect, we should’ve added the “State” back in there because that would be on point) and Iowa State. The Iowa State fans are, in fact, becoming this year’s version of Virginia fans — very loud in the comment section here and kind of annoying… but they have some good points and would be embraced by the internet trendsters.

Our one regret is not getting a calligrapher to ironically fill this out for us. Maybe next year!

hipster scaled

6. The Algrebracket

We just slid a bunch of stuff around — like a big emphasis on defense, 3-point shooting, foul shooting and assist-to-turnover ratio — and out popped this beauty. The Algebracket allows you to then apply your suppositions to past brackets. Our input would’ve bombed the last two years, but we were right there in 2021 and 2019! Seven of eight Final Four teams! We highly recommend playing with this at the link above. It’s fun!

Screen Shot 2024 03 20 at 10.03.49 AM

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7. Lots of upsets

There was no real rhyme or reason to this one outside of “just pick some random, plausible upsets” with the idea that last year, there were two 5 seeds, a 4 and a 9 in the Final Four. So no upset would be considered too weird here. We threw UConn in there just to keep it grounded.

upsets everywhere scaled

8. “What if these were football teams?”

The bracket with the cross-outs! Most of this came from Stewart Mandel’s “Too Early Top 25,” but we hit a snag early: South Dakota State vs. Iowa State was close enough that we went back and forth. We initially had Iowa St. (24th in Stewart’s rankings) going to the Final 4. But then college football editors got involved in the discussion, and we went the other way. Once we decided on South Dakota St., we had to then pit them against Washington State — and gave the edge to the Cougars. THEN it became Illinois vs. Washington State, which we went back and forth on enough to scratch the line out twice.

The funny thing about this bracket is it features a 7 seed (okay, fine, not unheard of at all), an 8 seed, and two 4s. It’s not completely out of the question to look at last year and think, “Yeah, this could work!” Even the Sweet 16 is strong. Maybe this is a column on its own! For now, it’s a weirdly distinct possibility and could work out if things get as bizarre as last year.

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(Top photo: spxChrome / iStock; pokergecko / iStock; Design by Sean Reilly)





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