15 Best March Madness Contest Ideas

If you want some March Madness contest ideas, this article is for you. In this blog, I have compiled a list of the 15 best ideas to inspire your creative and engaging contest.

March Madness Contest Ideas

What Is March Madness?

March Madness” is a term that refers to one of the most exciting periods in the sports calendar, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. This annual competition occurs in March and features 68 college basketball teams across the United States. 

The tournament is organized in a single-elimination format, meaning a team is out when they lose a match. This creates a high-stakes environment where every game matters, leading to thrilling upsets, buzzer-beaters, and Cinderella stories that capture the nation’s attention. The term ‘madness’ perfectly encapsulates the unpredictable and intense nature of the games. It’s not just about the sports, though. 

Millions participate in bracket challenges, predicting the outcome of all the games, which has become a significant aspect of March Madness culture. The tournament is a grand celebration of college basketball and a testimony to the passion and dedication of athletes, coaches, and fans alike.

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15 Best March Madness Contest Ideas

Here are the details of 15 best March Madness contest ideas of all time. Check them out and organize one for the next event.

#1. Bracket Challenge:

The Bracket Challenge is the heart of March Madness. Participants fill out their brackets before the tournament starts, predicting the winner of each game. As the tournament progresses, points are awarded for each correct prediction, with the scoring typically increasing in later rounds. To add a twist, consider giving bonus points for correctly picking upsets. 

#2. Upset Special:

The Upset Special takes a unique spin on the traditional bracket challenge. Participants focus solely on identifying potential upsets rather than predicting the outcome of every game. Given the unpredictability of March Madness, this contest rewards those who can spot the underdogs poised to triumph over higher-seeded teams. Participants earn points for each successful upset they predict, with more points awarded for more significant upsets. 

#3. Fantasy Player Draft:

Like fantasy sports leagues, participants draft a team of players from different schools participating in the tournament. Points are scored based on the players’ real-life performances in each game, including stats like points scored, rebounds, assists, and more. 

#4. Halftime Score Guess:

The Halftime Score Guess is a fun and engaging contest that allows participants to predict the halftime score of each game. Before a game commences, individuals submit their best guess for the score at halftime. Points are awarded to those closest to the halftime score, creating an exciting competition that keeps participants engaged throughout the first half of each game.

#5. Mascot Mayhem:

In this light-hearted contest, participants pick winners based solely on the team’s mascots. This approach levels the playing field, allowing even those with limited basketball knowledge to participate. Consider creating a mascot guide to help participants make their choices.

#6. Long Shot Challenge:

The Long Shot Challenge is a contest perfect for those who love making bold predictions. In this challenge, participants are asked to select one lower-seeded team they believe will make it far in the tournament, possibly even to the championship game. It’s a long shot, hence the contest title, but the potential payoff is significant. If the chosen team does surpass expectations, the participant is rewarded with a high number of points. 

#7. Regional Rivalries:

Focusing on the tournament’s four regions, this contest breaks the bracket into smaller segments. Participants predict winners within each region, which can be easier to manage than a full bracket and allows more specialized knowledge to come into play. 

#8. Coach’s Corner:

Participants predict which coaches will make the most strategic moves in Coach’s Corner. Points can be awarded for navigating a close game, pulling off an upset, or making effective halftime adjustments. This contest requires a deeper understanding of the game and can be a great way for more knowledgeable fans to showcase their expertise.

#9. Free Throw Fun:

The Free Throw Fun contest calls for participants to predict which teams will have the most successful free throw attempts throughout the tournament. In a tightly contested game, free throws often differ between a win and a loss. Participants earn points based on the accuracy of their predictions, taking into account the total number of successful free throws and the percentage of successful attempts.

#10. Photo Finish:

Photo Finish is a creative and social contest. Here, participants submit their best March Madness-themed photos. This could be a fan outfit, a decorated workspace, or a game-watching setup. The photos are then shared within the group or on a social platform, and participants vote on winners. It adds a personal touch and can be a great way to build community.

#11. Social Media Savvy:

In the Social Media Savvy contest, participants engage in a social media challenge where they predict winners of March Madness games on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Depending on your contest rules, the participant who gets the most predictions right or garners the most likes, shares, or retweets could be declared the winner.

#12. Game Day Chef:

Participants bring their best game day snacks or dishes, perfect for food enthusiasts. These are then rated on taste, presentation, and creativity. Consider creating categories like “Best Dip,” “Most Creative Dish,” or “Healthiest Snack” to add variety.

#13. Trivia Time:

This contest adds a knowledge-based twist to the excitement of March Madness. In Trivia Time, participants answer questions about the tournament’s history and statistics. Questions could range from past winners and standout performances to players and team records. 

This can be done through a quiz or a live trivia session, making it a great way to engage fans throughout the event. You could award points for each correct answer and tally the scores at the end of the tournament to determine the ultimate trivia champ!

#14. Alumni Pride:

In the Alumni Pride contest, participants are encouraged to show off their school spirit. This could involve wearing their alma mater’s colors, displaying school memorabilia, or sharing stories from their university years. 

Alumni of teams participating in the tournament might have the inside track, but all participants can join by adopting a school as their own for March Madness. Points can be awarded for the most spirited displays of alumni pride, the most interesting stories shared, or even for the school that advances the furthest in the tournament. 

#15. Charity Bracket:

The Charity Bracket puts a philanthropic spin on the traditional bracket competition. In this contest, each participant chooses a charity they’re passionate about and their bracket predictions. The winnings from the contest are then donated to the charity of the participant whose bracket has the most points at the end of the tournament. 

How to Run a March Madness Contest?

Successfully running a March Madness contest involves careful planning and organization. Here are some comprehensive steps to guide you through the process:

#1. Choose Your Contest Type

Firstly, decide on the kind of contest you want to conduct. As illustrated above, myriad options are available, from traditional bracket challenges to creative contests like Photo Finish or Social Media Savvy. Your choice should depend on your audience and what you think will engage them the most.

#2. Set Contest Rules

Once you’ve chosen the contest type, you must clearly outline the rules. This includes how points will be awarded, the submission deadlines, and any other contest-specific rules. The clearer the rules, the less chance of confusion or disputes later on.

#3. Design an Entry Method

You’ll need a way for participants to submit their entries. This could be through an online form, email, social media, or even a physical submission box, depending on the nature of the contest. If you’re running a social media contest, use the appropriate hashtags and tagging methods.

#4. Promote Your Contest

The success of your contest hinges on how well it’s promoted. Use all available channels to spread the word – email, in-person announcements, flyers, social media, etc.

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#5. Monitor the Tournament and Update Scores

As the tournament progresses, keeping track of the results and updating scores or rankings accordingly is important. This helps participants stay engaged and adds to the excitement.

#6. Announce Winners and Award Prizes

Once the tournament is over, it’s time to announce the winners. Make this announcement eventful and congratulate the winners publicly. If there are prizes to be handed out, do so promptly. 

For more explanation of March Madness brackets check out the below video content.

FAQs on March Madness Contest Ideas

How do you celebrate March Madness?

March Madness can be celebrated in several ways, creating a festive atmosphere that matches the excitement on the court.

  • Firstly, hosting a viewing party (in-person or virtually) is a common and fun way to enjoy the games. Equipping the setting with team colors, basketball-themed decorations, and a big screen adds to the thrill.
  • Secondly, engaging in bracket competitions, individually or within a group, enhances the stakes and involvement in the tournament.
  • Thirdly, cooking a storm of game-day snacks can fuse the love for basketball and food into a delicious blend. For the more digitally savvy, engaging in friendly banter on social media or participating in online contests can also amplify the celebration.
  • Finally, donning the colors of your favorite team or alma mater and cheering passionately for them amplifies the spirit of March Madness.

How do you compete in March Madness?

You can enter a bracket competition with friends, family, or colleagues to compete in March Madness. This involves filling out a tournament bracket and predicting the winners of each game until the champion is determined. Points are awarded for correct predictions, and the participant with the most points at the end of the tournament wins.

Another way to compete is by participating in various contests and challenges organized around March Madness, such as those discussed above. These can range from trivia competitions to photo contests or even charity challenges.

How to do a March Madness bracket challenge?

To undertake a March Madness bracket challenge, follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Understanding the Bracket: Before filling out your bracket, familiarize yourself with the tournament’s structure. The tournament consists of 68 teams divided into four regions, facing off in a single-elimination competition until one champion stands.
  2. Research: Knowledge is key to making informed decisions. Research the teams’ records, player stats, and how they’ve performed in past tournaments. Pay attention to the seeding of the teams, as it can impact their progress.
  3. Filling out the Bracket: Begin by predicting the winners of the first-round games in each region and proceed sequentially through each round. Remember, higher-seeded teams generally perform better, but upsets are not uncommon.
  4. Scoring: Points are usually awarded for each correct prediction, with the point value increasing each round. Be aware of the scoring system of your specific challenge.
  5. Submission: Lastly, submit your completed bracket before the tournament begins. Most bracket challenges will have a submission deadline, usually right before the start of the first game.


The possibilities for March Madness contests are endless, and with a little creativity and planning, you can make the tournament even more exciting for everyone involved. Consider offering prizes or incentives to keep participants engaged throughout the entire event. 

And remember, while some may be focused on who wins on the court, these contests add another layer of fun and camaraderie to the tradition of March Madness.

Julia Nancy
Julia Nancy

I have vast experience arranging online voting contests for hundreds of clients worldwide in the last 8 years. I also helped countless clients to win their online competitions. Here, on royalvotes.com, I am just sharing knowledge from my experiences. If you need any help regarding the online contest, email me at julia@royalvotes.com