Still debating options as the deadline to submit your entries into the 2019 ESPN Tournament Challenge game hurriedly approaches?
You can play for free, submit up to 25 brackets and join as many as 10 groups each for the men’s and women’s tournaments at ESPN.com/bracket or the ESPN Tournament Challenge App for iOS and Android. Even then, there are so many factors to consider in tournaments where there are no such things as “sure things.”
So who knows how to win these sorts of things?
Front Row asked some recent ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge champions to share their strategies past and present to help other fans plot and scheme before the Round of 64 begins play Thursday afternoon. Before the NCAA Women’s Tournament begins play Friday afternoon on ESPN2 (noon ET), Front Row hopes to share the insights of Women’s Tournament Challenge champions as well.
2018 CHAMPION: MIKE FROM OHIO
THAT 2018 CHAMPIONSHIP SYSTEM: Mike considered the “team’s record in the last month, and what teams have star players and which mid major will step up . . . All of these [factors] make a big impact.” And he also rolled the die, as depicted in the video above.
STRATEGY THIS YEAR: Mike has his eyes on mid-majors: “Murray State, Buffalo and UC Irvine should have good shots at the Sweet 16. Then the obvious high seeds Duke and Gonzaga.”
FINAL FOUR, CHAMPION: Mike picks Duke, Buffalo, Virginia and Houston to win their regions, with Duke beating Houston for the title. “Duke has the most talent of any team since the Anthony Davis Kentucky team . . . Buffalo is a deep and experienced mid-major with the hottest coaching prospect in college basketball. Virginia bounces back from last year’s embarrassing loss to a No. 16 seed and makes the Final Four. Houston is more of a hunch play than anything else, but they have won most of the big games they have played this season.”
2017 CHAMPION: JEREMY PASSEY FROM PROVO, UTAH
THAT 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP SYSTEM: “My system is based on historic outcomes [as depicted in the video above]. I look at probabilities of certain seeds advancing out of each region.”
HOW’D YOUR BEST 2018 TOURNEY CHALLENGE BRACKET DO?: “My best finish has only been in the 72nd percentile, but that wasn’t using my system. I’ll be sure to use it this year, though.”
FINAL FOUR, CHAMPION: Passey picks Duke, Michigan, Villanova and UNC to win their regions, with UNC defeating Duke in the title game. “I’m always partial to the teams/coaches that have the most experience participating in the NCAA Tournament. I like Duke and UNC this year.”
2016 CHAMPION: RICH MARCHESE FROM SOUTHINGTON, CT
THAT 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP SYSTEM: “I followed my gut and went with teams that finished the season strong in their conference tournaments. Also, I wasn’t afraid to take a chance on a capable team that wasn’t the favorite to win it all.”
BEST FINISH SINCE WINNING IN 2016: “In last year’s Tournament Challenge, I had a bracket that finished in the 98th percentile – just missing the top 1 percent to be eligible for the grand prize drawing.”
FINAL FOUR, CHAMPION: Marchese picks Duke, Michigan, Virginia and Kentucky to win their regions, with Virginia beating Duke in the title game. “Teams that have great guard play and proven coaching always do well. I like Virginia because of their ability to play solid defense. My sleeper team this year is Houston as a No. 3 seed.”