Best March Madness Bracket Contests

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As home to major D1 basketball programs, including Florida State, Florida, and the University of Miami, as well as underdog darlings like Florida Gulf Coast, Florida is a great place to be during March Madness.

Legal sports betting in Florida will make March Madness an even bigger deal, with plenty of room to bet on games, props and participate in March Madness bracket contests.

Here’s where to find the best free and paid bracket contests at legal online sportsbooks in Florida, plus a few helpful tips for picking the right upsets at the right moments.

Betting on March Madness vs. free bracket contests

A March Madness bracket contest typically covers the entire NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Entrants are required to fill out the bracket in its entirety (all 63 games and sometimes even including the First Four) before the tipoff of the first game.

Points are usually awarded for each game picked correctly. The winner (or winners) are either the brackets that picked the most games correctly or earned the most points. Prize pools, occasionally as large as $1 million, are then distributed among the highest-scoring participants (typically the top 10% or so, although many times it can be a “winner-take-all” contest as well).

Outside of just picking brackets, though, at legal online sportsbooks you can also now bet on March Madness before and as it plays out. You can also bet on some player and team prop bets as well.

Top options include the main pregame bets on moneylines, totals, and point spreads, and you can put together sports parlays or teasers on a series of games if you’d like. A limited selection of team and player prop bets are also usually available.

Here’s how the pros and cons of each break down to give you a sense of which is the better investment:

March Madness bracket contests

  • Pro: Fun and exciting way to stay engaged with the entire tournament while having a chance to win prizes.
  • Con: It can be challenging to win, as you have to fill out the bracket in its entirety before the first game is played.

Betting on March Madness

  • Pro: Allows you to focus on the games you are most interested in and to place bets in a number of different ways.
  • Con: Attracts a ton of betting action, so the sports odds can quickly shift from appealing to unappealing on your chosen games.

For more on betting on college basketball in general, see our dedicated page here:

Best free March Madness bracket contests

As legal sports betting options continue to grow across the U.S., many of the top sportsbooks have also entered the fray with their own March Madness bracket contests. Last year, there were some really awesome options available, so expect the same or better in the coming years. Here are a few bracket contests of note from major online sportsbooks:

DraftKings $30k Survivor

DraftKings Sportsbook has a survivor-style contest for March Madness. You pick a team for each day of the tournament. Make the right call to advance, while wrong picks mean you’re out. Those who make it through to the tile game share the top prize.

FanDuel Bracket Pick’Em

This is a free contest from FanDuel Sportsbook where you make your picks as the tourney plays out. The highest-scoring entrants share in the $5,000 prize pool.

BetMGM $10M Perfect Bracket Contest

BetMGM Sportsbook is willing to pay out $10 million for a perfect bracket. The actual chances of that happening are unrealistic, but there’s something else that’s much more attainable. The participant with the most correct choices wins a $100,000 guaranteed prize.

Second-chance bracket contests

Second-chance bracket contests continue to grow in popularity, and there’s a really simple reason for that: lots of brackets get busted early. Upsets are going to happen along the way, and you’re going to make some bad calls to boot. That’s just the reality of bracket competitions, so this is a way to get back in the game. DraftKings offers:

  • $20k Free State Farm Second Chance Bracket Contest: You must fill out your bracket from the Sweet 16 to the title tilt. You’ll earn points for correct picks with the top scorers winning cash prizes.
  • $20k Free KFC Second chance Survivor Pool: Pick a team to win for each remaining day of the tournament. Lose and you’re eliminated, while those left standing share the top prize.

How are March Madness Bracket contests scored? 

There are several different methods used for scoring March Madness bracket contests, so be sure that you know the rules of the road before entering to play. Scoring can range from the super simple (one point per correct pick) to the more advanced (multiples of points for each round of the tourney).

If we go back to our example contests from the top sportsbooks, there were three different methods used. BetMGM kept it simple and awarded a single point for each correct call. DraftKings and FanDuel went the more advanced route.

DraftKings March Madness bracket scoring

  • Round 1: 10 points per correct pick
  • Round 2: 20
  • Sweet 16: 40
  • Elite Eight: 80
  • Final Four: 160
  • Championship: 320

FanDuel March Madness scoring

  • First Round: 10 points per correct pick multiplied by team seed
  • Second Round: 25 points with multiplier
  • Sweet 16: 50 points with multiplier
  • Elite Eight: 100 points with multiplier
  • Final Four: 250 points with multiplier
  • Championship: 500 points with multiplier

So which one is the best approach? It really comes down to user preference. The simple scoring system works fine for many, but others prefer something extra to root for. In addition to finding the rules that work best for you, you also want to have a full understanding of how the prize pool breaks down.

How much can you win in bracket contests?

Payouts for March Madness bracket contests will vary based on the number of participants and entry fee. There are also contests that are completely free to play. These are found online, and some offer up huge prizes to winners.

The unfortunate reality of these contests is this: they’ll attract tons of entrants, so winning is incredibly difficult as a result. While there’s nothing wrong with trying your hand at winning, keep your expectations in check while also entering betting pools in which you have a realistic chance.

As a quick example, a simple office pool at $20 a pop with 20 entrants would have a total prize pool of $400. Some contests may be winner-take-all, while others might spread out the wealth, such as $250 for first, $100 for second and $50 for third.

For the contests from online sportsbooks, you’ll find the same options. BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel have all had first-place prize or bust contests, but the prize can be shared when multiple players finish with the same score.

A big paid entry bracket contest from DraftKings spread out the prizes, so multiple players had the chance to score. Here is the breakdown for a previous edition (payouts may change depending on the year the contest is offered).

  • 1st: $1 million
  • 2nd: $250,000
  • 3rd: $125,000
  • 4th: $75,000
  • 5th: $50,000
  • 6th: $30,000
  • 7th: $25,000
  • 8th: $20,000
  • 9th: $15,000
  • 10th: $12,500
  • 11th: $10,000
  • 12th: $7,500
  • 13th: $6,000
  • 14th-16th: $5,000
  • 17th-21st: $3,000
  • 22nd-26th: $2,000
  • 27th-36th: $1,500
  • 37th-51st: $1,000
  • 52nd-76th: $750
  • 77th-126th: $500
  • 127th-201st: $400
  • 202nd-326th: $300
  • 327th-659th: $200
  • 660th-1500th: $150

While winning this contest is incredibly challenging, scoring well enough to cash is certainly feasible. For those who manage to do so, winnings are credited to your account as soon as the tourney is in the books. From there, it’s yours to keep. You can withdraw it or keep it on the site to play more.

Our No. 1 March Madness Bracket contest tip

You won’t lack opinions when March Madness rolls around, nor strategy tips. The tournament receives tons of coverage, and advice abounds on how to set a winning bracket. While there are plenty of different ways to get there, there’s one thing that you absolutely must do.

Respect the higher seeds

While upsets will happen, teams that are ranked Nos. 1-4 in each region have a great winning percentage in the opening rounds of the tourney. That doesn’t mean that you should automatically pencil them in to advance, but it does mean that you had better have a fantastic list of reasons when you pick against them.

Never do this in March Madness bracket contests

On the other side of the coin, there are some completely avoidable mistakes repeated year after year by bracket contest participants. If you can set your mind to avoiding them right out of the gate, you’ll immediately be much better off.

1. Blindly pick a team based on name or record

A stellar record and great rep can lead to a very full bandwagon. However, there are times when closer examination reveals what amounts to a paper tiger. When looking at the record, consider the quality of opponents to determine how impressive it really is. As for street cred, consider how the school performs when the chips are down.

How are March Madness brackets set?

On Selection Sunday, the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee unveils the March Madness bracket to the masses. The committee finalizes the field once the conference championship games are in the books. There are 32 automatic qualifiers (the conference champs) and 36 at-large selections.

The at-large teams are chosen based on performance and strength of schedule. It’s tough to keep everyone happy, but the committee does its best to ensure the best teams in the nation make the cut. The bracket is divided into four quadrants: East, South, Midwest and West.

The bottom eight teams play in what’s known as the First Four, with winners advancing to the main tournament. For each region, teams are seeded 1 through 16 based on overall strength and expectations. That sets up first-round pairings that look like this.

  • 1 vs. 16
  • 2 vs. 15
  • 3 vs. 14
  • 4 vs. 13
  • 5 vs. 12
  • 6 vs. 11
  • 7 vs. 10
  • 8 vs. 9

The tournament is single-elimination, so winners advance and losers go home. For each round, there’s a set number of games with the field whittled down all along the way.

  • First Four: Four games
  • First round: 32 games
  • Second round: 16 games
  • Sweet 16: Eight games
  • Elite Eight: Four games
  • Final Four: Two games
  • National Championship: One game

From start to finish, it’s 67 games over three wildly entertaining weeks of college hoops action. The bracket laid out by the committee helps to make sense of it all and also serves as the basis for the contests that continue to grow in popularity.

How to enter bracket contests online in Florida

You can gain access to the best March Madness bracket contests at the top Florida sportsbooks in an instant. Here’s what you need to do to enter a March Madness bracket online.

  • Click on our exclusive links to snag the best Florida sportsbook sign-up offer.
  • Complete the registration process by entering a few simple details.
  • Make your first deposit or get ready to use bonus bets.
  • Check out the March Madness odds and contests.

If you complete all of the above online, be sure to download the app for your device right from the sportsbook website. Once that’s done, log in on your device, and you can take all of the March Madness action on the go with you.

The top legal sportsbooks invest heavily in tech. You’ll see that in the online and app offerings. March Madness is incredibly exciting as it is, but you’ll be able to ramp up the enjoyment even further next time around.

March Madness Brackets FAQ

When do NCAA March Madness brackets come out?

The bracket is revealed to the public on what’s known as Selection Sunday. It has evolved into a made-for-TV event. For 2023, the March Madness bracket will be unveiled on Sunday, March 17. First Four games are scheduled for March 14-15, with the first round getting underway on March 16.

How many brackets/bracket contests can I enter?

As many as you’d like. In fact, it’s a good idea to spread out the risk and give yourself even more chances to win. For example, you can play the local pool you’ve been doing for years, find an appealing free-to-play contest online, and enter a paid entry contest that offers up a realistic chance of cashing.

How many combinations are there for March Madness brackets?

There are 68 teams in March Madness each year, so the possibilities are pretty close to endless. Studies have been done on the number of combos that could be made, and the answer was revealed to be 9.2 quintillions. For perspective on how large of a number that is, a single quintillion has 18 zeroes attached.

What are the odds for a perfect bracket?

Since there are so many different possible combinations, the chances of picking a perfect bracket are even worse than slim or none. Once again, advanced mathematicians have tackled the question and set the bar at one in 120 billion. In other words, don’t get hung up on perfection. Shoot for putting together your best possible bracket.

How many March Madness brackets are filled out every year?

As one of the most popular sporting events of the year, March Madness attracts a ton of interest. Participation in bracket competitions continues to increase with each passing year. In 2021, there were estimates of 100 million filled-out brackets.

What’s the best-ever MM bracket?

Back in 2019, a neuropsychologist named Gregg Nigl had a run for the ages. He picked the first 49 games of the tourney, snapping the previous verified record of 39, which happened in 2017. To date, a truly perfect bracket has never been witnessed.