Bored of brackets? Try these five unique March Madness betting pools


College basketball betting season and March Madness are here. We all know about the standard March Madness Bracket Challenges, but sometimes you are looking for an extra zest.

Like adding bacon bits to a salad or extra bacon on your BLT. Something to make it even better. That’s why we’re giving you a few more college basketball pool ideas that you can start with your crew.

Players Points League – AKA Hank Gathers Memorial

My friends and I have been participating in this league since 2006. We named it after Hank Gathers because he was awesome and could score buckets, everything that we were looking for out of a league that rewards scoring.

The league is super simple: Eight owners draft eight players each from teams in the tournament, snake draft, done via email. The owner whose team scores the most points in the tournament wins (so you want to take players that score on teams that advance in the tournament). We do the stats manually via a spreadsheet, which isn’t hard because there’s only 64 total players and many of them get knocked out early.

I recommend filling in the players drafted in the spreadsheet as you go. It makes those annoying “has he been drafted yet” emails go away and allows for you to really lay into someone if they draft someone who is already drafted.

We are midway through our draft right now and I picked eighth. I’m not overly thrilled with my squad of: Brandon Ashley (Arizona), Andrew Harrison (Kentucky), Trey Lyles (Kentucky) and Dylan Ennis (Villanova). There’s just not a ton of scoring out there like in years past (shout out to Jimmer and Adam Morrison).

Big Boys League – AKA Thomas Hill Crying Pool

This league was called the Big Boys League when I was first introduced to it during my previous job selling online advertising. Once I left, I took the format of the league with me and started my own pool. I gave it the name “Thomas Hill Crying Pool” because I laugh every time I saw Thomas Hill crying after Christian Laettner made one of the most memorable shots in college basketball history. It’s my way of saying “never forget”.

This college basketball pool can have an unlimited number of teams and once again you’ll be doing the stats manually. In this one you get points based on the seeding of the winning team. For example, every time Kentucky wins you only get one point, Michigan State wins you get seven, etc. Each owner selects six teams, two of which you can put a double value on. That means each of their victories counts for double their seeding (so if you doubled Michigan State you’d get 14 points).

Since Kentucky winning it all would only get you six points overall, the Wildcats aren’t an attractive option. This is especially true when you consider that a No. 12 seed gets 12 points per win. One victory by them is the equivalent to Kentucky winning it all and you doubling them. Catch my drift?

The game now becomes “can you guess the right upsets” and if you’re confident enough, “can you double them?” It can be a very boom-or-bust game (but it’s a ton of fun). Last year’s winner scored 185 points. The seeds he had were 13, 11 (x2), 7, 7, 8 (x2), 12.

NCAA Squares

Just like with Super Bowl squares, you can play March Madness squares. Take the last digit of the winning teams score plus the last digit of the losing teams score. If you’ve got that square you win. Do this for every game throughout the tournament.

As the tournament gets into the later rounds, winning squares pay out more with the championship game being the big dog. It’s a great way of always having action on a game and keeping interest until the final horn.

Upset Special Bracket Challenge

I prefer to reward people who are willing to go out on a limb and call upsets in the tournament. Everyone is going to be taking Kentucky, so you’ve gotta spice it up somehow. There’s a few different versions of the Upset Special Bracket Challenge but here’s the one that I’m doing this year (you should join it, and yes, this is the second league Bacon Sports is running. We like to keep things interesting).

This format puts an emphasis on the early rounds, which I think is the best part of the tournament. It’s a ton of fun when you call an upset and then you get rewarded for it.

King of Covers

Covers Contests is running their annual “King of Covers College Madness” contest, where you pick against the spread and battle other Covers Community members for the best ATS record and a chance to win weekly prizes, including a $1,000 weekly Grand Prize. There are more than $2,200 in cash and prizes up for grabs every week during March Madness.

I want to hear from you. Are you in a unique college basketball pool for March Madness? Shoot me an email to or hit me up on Twitter @BaconSports and let me know the format (note: I’m not looking to join any leagues, just interested in the format).

Rob Creasy is the founder/Editor-In-Chief of


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