How To Create A March Madness Basketball Bracket Challenge For Your Family in 2024

March Madness NCAA Basketball

It’s March, and that means March Madness will be upon us shortly. Having spent a portion of my childhood in Indiana, basketball is in my blood.  Basketball is huge in our household. Our family especially loves March Madness and the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament.

One of our family’s favorite activities is our March Madness Basketball Bracket Challenge, which has been going strong for almost a decade. Although our bracket challenge has grown and evolved over the years, it always provides excitement (and sometimes temper tantrums) for everyone involved.

Want to set up a March Madness bracket challenge for your family? Check out how ours works and then figure out what works for your family.

NCAA March Madness 2024

The NCAA Men’s March Madness tournament features 68 college basketball teams that compete in a one-and-done tournament to see who is crowned the National Champion. The tournament starts with games at various locations around the country and is broken into four regions, with host cities chosen for regional rounds:

West Region: Arena; Los Angeles, CA

East Region: TD Garden; Boston, Massachusetts 

Midwest Regional: Little Caesars Arena; Detroit, Michigan

South Regional: American Airlines Arena; Dallas, Texas

When does March Madness 2024 Start? 

Here is the schedule for the 2024 NCAA March Madness Tournament:

  • First Four: March 19-20
  • First round: March 21-22
  • Second round: March 23-24
  • Sweet 16: March 28-29
  • Elite Eight: March 30-31
  • Final Four: April 6
  • NCAA Championship Game: April 8

You can watch March Madness live in several ways. March Madness games are broadcast on TV through several networks including CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV.

When is the 2024 Final Four? 

The Final Four and Championship game will take place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Final Four takes place on Saturday, April 6, 2024. The 2024 Men’s NCAA Championship game is on Monday, April 8, 2024.

Get A Printable 2024 NCAA Men’s March Madness Tournament Bracket

When is March Madness Selection Sunday? 

Selection Sunday is the day when the NCAA announces the March Madness teams participating in the annual college basketball tournament and their seedings. Selection Sunday 2024 takes place on Sunday, March 17th.

Want to relive last year’s tournament? Check out One Shining Moment for highlights of the 2023 NCAA March Madness Men’s basketball tournament:

2024 Women’s NCAA March Madness Tournament

If your family follows the Women’s NCAA March Madness Tournament, you can create a similar family bracket challenge for the Women’s tournament. Selection Sunday for the Women’s NCAA tournament is on Sunday, March 17th (at 8 p.m. on ESPN). Below are the dates of the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament 2024:

  • First Four: March 20-21
  • First Round: March 22-23
  • Second Round: March 24-25
  • Sweet 16: March 29-30
  • Elite Eight: March 31-April 1
  • Final Four: April 5
  • Championship Game: April 7

The Women’s NCAA basketball tournament features two regional locations in 2024:

  • Times Union Center; Albany, New York
  • Moda Center; Portland, Oregon

The Women’s Final Four and Championship game take place at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.

Get A Printable 2024 NCAA Women’s March Madness Tournament Bracket

March Madness Bracket Challenge Rules For Families

Our March Madness bracket challenge rules are one of the primary components that have changed over the years. It’s still a work in progress. We started with progressively weighted rounds that doubled in point value for each round, which is the most common setup for online brackets. So correct picks in the first round are worth 1 point, 2 points in the second round, and continue to double until you get to the final game. You also need to pick the score of the championship game to use as a tiebreaker.

Another way of setting your bracket up is to emphasize the total number of games picked correctly rather than increasing the value each round. This works better with younger kids, as I’ve found they tend to lose interest if they aren’t at least in the running towards the end of the tournament.

When we first started, we’d just pick one round at a time to allow everyone to pick more games after the winners of the previous round were decided. This worked great, but it is time-consuming to keep up with winners and losers and get everyone to fill out the next round’s games promptly. Winners play twice a weekend so there are time restrictions with setting your bracket up this way. Again, this is a better setup for families with younger kids. They don’t seem to take losing very well. I wonder where they got that?!

Tracking your March Madness Family Brackets in 2024

At the beginning of our family bracket challenge, I printed out brackets for every family member. With the format of picking one round at a time, this required reprinting brackets after a round ends so the proper teams are filled in. Not fun. Now, we just use an online bracket and set everyone up in a group pool. There are several sports websites with online brackets you can manage for groups, like:

The Women’s NCAA March Madness tournament also offers online bracket contests:

March Madness Bracket Challenge Prizes

We created our March Madness bracket challenge as something fun to do as a family. Our prizes reflected that in the beginning. Bracket winners typically get to choose some portion of a local family adventure. In the past, we’ve awarded prizes this way: 

  • 1st place chooses a local activity for our family to do together (examples include bowling, mini-golf, going to the movies, trampoline park, zoo, museum, etc.)
  • 2nd place chooses a local restaurant that we will visit as a family.
  • 3rd place chooses a local spot for dessert to wrap up our family adventure.

When our kids were younger, we had to find ways for everyone to win so we wouldn’t end up with sore losers ruining our fun. One year, we did two separate family adventure days, which provided choices for all six of us. That was expensive!

Now that they’re teenagers, I love beating them! And they love doing the same. We were probably being too nice to our kids when they were younger. We will never go back to six winners. No more participation trophies!

Now that our kids are older, gift cards are cash are more coveted as prizes.

The Real Reward

We created the NCAA bracket challenge shortly after the adoption of our daughters as one way to bond. Not only did the bracket challenge end with family time together exploring new places locally, but we also spent time together watching games and highlights, discussing our picks, trash-talking each other, and sharing what we would choose if we won.

Our March Madness family bracket challenge is about more than just basketball, and as much as I love basketball, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you participate in the March Madness brackets? If so, what is your strategy for picking teams? Let us know in the comments below.

March Madness Bracket Challenge Pin
How To Create A March Madness Basketball Bracket Challenge For Your Family in 2024

3 thoughts on “How To Create A March Madness Basketball Bracket Challenge For Your Family in 2024”

  1. Thank you! – I love bracket challenge also – and the ease and awesomeness of the cbs, ESPN, etc bracket

    I’m trying to set up for fun as a school teacher but realize all require members to enter birthdays and be 21 or older

    How do you set up or have brackets entered for your children or is there one of these that doesn’t have an age requirement?

    Thank you

    1. I have the same question. We are looking for a site to just plug in your name and choices.

    2. I don’t know of any that don’t require you to sign up for an account since that’s how they’re trackable. Our kids all have ESPN accounts. I don’t remember an age restriction, but if there was, I probably just entered generic birthdates honestly. I searched last night, and there might be some mobile apps that would work, but I don’t know if they have age restrictions. Other than that, you may have to resort to printed brackets. has a fillable bracket you can print, too.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.