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The Only Colors’ 2017 NCAA Tournament “Pick 16” Bracket Contest

The tenth annual nontraditional bracket contest is here! Picks are due before the start of the First Four Tuesday evening.

Michigan State v Louisville Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

NOTE: The First Four games count in this contest, so the deadline to enter is Tuesday evening prior to those games.

As is tradition since the Spartans Weblog days, we're holding a different sort of picks contest. No prizes, just for fun.

How It Works

Each team earns points for every win, based on their seed and the round:
First Four: Half of the team's main-bracket seed (a 16-seed play-in winner gets 8 points, an 11 seed gets 5.5, etc.). Further wins after the First Four earn full value as normal.
After the First Four: Points equal to the team's seed for each win.
Final Four bonuses: 1 point for reaching the Final Four, 3 for reaching the title game, and 5 for the winning the championship. These bonuses are cumulative (a 1 seed who wins the title earns 6*1 + 1 + 3 + 5 = 15 points total).

As the name of the contest implies, you pick 16 teams. The total points earned by those 16 teams is your score. The tiebreaker is your prediction of how many possessions there will be in the national title game; for reference, this year, the national average for a regulation game is around 67.

There are no restrictions on which 16 teams you select. You can pick one from each pod and have a chance to have every team surviving after the first weekend, but that’s not required (and in fact, the best possible score in years past has occasionally included as many as six teams from a single region).

Entries may be changed until the start of the First Four.


  • Entries with the same number of points will be ranked based on the absolute difference between the tiebreaker guess and the actual number of possessions. Closer is better, but it doesn’t matter if you’re too high or too low.
  • If still tied, entries will be ranked based on the highest score among teams selected, then second-highest, etc.
  • If still tied, entries will be ranked based on the total number of wins by all teams selected.
  • If still tied, there is no further tiebreaker.

How to Enter

Google Forms (Preferred)

To simplify gathering the entries, I’ve set up a Google Forms page. Please use this if possible, as it will speed up the process of scoring and also check that you have exactly 16 teams and have entered a valid tiebreaker. (I set it up to reject entries greater than 100, as there’s been confusion about counting each team’s possessions combined or one team’s possessions. The latter is the intended number and is unlikely to hit 100 with anything short of 4OT.)

After submitting your entry, the confirmation page will include a link to edit your entry; save this in case you wish to change your answers prior to Tuesday’s tip-off. (I can manually tweak them if you post a comment here, or you can send in a second entry noting that it’s your revised entry and I’ll remove the other. But it’s easiest if you just keep that link handy until Tuesday.)

Commenting Here

If the Google Forms link isn’t working for you for any reason, you can post your entry as a comment here listing your 16 teams and the tiebreaker. If you do this, please be aware of a few things that will help me with running the contest:

  • Be careful with potentially ambiguous abbreviations. Don’t enter “USC”; put in “Southern Cal” or “South Carolina” (or enough to clearly identify one over the other). I’ll try to check on comments occasionally and reply if there’s something unclear, but I can’t guarantee that I will see all of them before the deadline.
  • Make sure you have exactly 16 teams and put in a tiebreaker number. If you have more teams than 16, only the lowest 16 scores among those you selected will count. If you have fewer, the empty slots obviously won’t help you any.
  • If you want to make changes to your entry, it’s easiest if you reply to your own comment here to keep it in the same place. You don’t have to list everything over again (something like “replace Team X with Team Y” is fine, as long as it’s clear what’s changing). If your edit results in too many or too few teams, the changes will be ignored if the previous version of your entry had the correct number.

Scoring Updates

Once entries are closed, I’ll post a spreadsheet with all entries and scoring updates. Scores will be updated at least daily but probably not live as games end.

A reminder: Entries close Tuesday night when the First Four tips off.

Good luck, and pick your 16.