How do you fill out a bracket? I am not asking how one chooses particular teams.

I have never done a bracket before in my life. I have figured out that the two teams connected by a line means they play a match. So assuming I have chosen a winner, I think I put the winning team's name above the line on the next round over, and do this for all the teams and all the rounds until I have a final champion.

There are a couple of questions I have, though.

At the top of my blank bracket, there are 8 teams that are completely separated. Are they also playing? Or do they have their own mini-tournament going on?

After the bracket has been filled, how do you track the actual results? Do you cross out an incorrect choice and replace it with the correct winner? Do you write underneath in a different color? Since the first results have started to come in today, I don't want to mark my bracket improperly.


I can answer this for the "usual" case. People do all sorts of weird things in sports wagering and the ilk; but the 95% case is here.

The eight teams you reference are the First Four. They are the "play-in" games; the winner of them feeds into a couple of spots on the main bracket, either as 16 seeds (2 of the 4 games) or as 11/12 seeds (2 of the 4). Most brackets do not require you to fill them out (although you certainly could set up a tournament that required it); I assume largely because they mess up the nice scoring method of 1 point for 1st "real" round -> 32 for "finals" all being powers of 2 and all giving the same value for a 100% correct round (32 each round are available).

Once you lock in your bracket, you are stuck with who you picked at the time you made the pick. If you picked Baylor to go to the final four, you've lost not only the 1 point for the first round, but also the 2 points for the Round of 32, the 4 points for the Sweet 16, and the 8 points for the Elite 8. That has a substantial impact on picking strategy where it comes to upsets.

As far as how you identify who won/lost, you can do it however you want. Frequently people line through the pick and write the correct team above it, but you certainly could write in a different color or whatever makes sense for you. There's no one right way to do it.

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