A tournament bracket is a chart that tracks the results of teams involved in tournament play. They are used by sports everywhere, but most people associate them with "March Madness." That's the term for the spring men's National Collegiate Athletic Association's basketball tournament. It's around that time when even casual sports fans need to know how to set up a working bracket. They can be set up on spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel, but they can also be done by hand.
Things You'll Need
- Computer with internet
- Tournament bracket maker software or Excel spreadsheet
- HP Printer
- Team information and seating data
Divide the teams in half. You need to start with an equal number on each side.
Draw lines of the right and left-hand sides of a horizontal piece of paper. Draw one line for every team or competitor in the tournament.
Draw a single straight line between every two lines on the sides. Draw another single line between the two brackets now in the second column, and continue until you have just one line in the middle. For example, if you start with 16 lines, with eight on each side, you should end up with four columns that decrease in size until there are just two there are just two lines in the middle.
Enter the names of the teams or competitors in the columns on the end. They should be entered by seed. For example, if there are 16 teams, the No. 1 seed must be on the opposite side of the page from the No. 2 seed, and No. 1 must start against No. 16, and No. 2 must start against No. 15. The No. 3 seed must be on the opposite side of the No. 4 seed. No. 3 must start against No. 14, and No. 4 against No. 12 and so forth. Set up the tournament so, in the event all of the favorites win each round, No. 1 meets No. 2 in the final lines in the middle.
Enter the name of each winning team in the next open bracket. For example, if No. 1 is Northwest and No. 16 is Westside, and Northwest wins, write Northwest in the second column. Fill in the bracket with actual winners until you get to the middle. Most brackets don't have a dedicated space to list the final winner since there is no other round to play.
Tips & Warnings
- There are plenty of online services that provide bracket templates or software that cover multiple tournament formats. They include Galactix Software, Tournament Bracket Builder by CNET and All Tournament Pro. Some do charge for the service.
- Photo Credit Hunter Martin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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