Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Like many of you, I received my annual invitation to participate in an NCAA tournament office pool.
But this year’s pool comes with a caveat: Even though the new 68-team tournament officially begins Tuesday with the “First Four” in Dayton, our bracket won’t tip off until Thursday’s and Friday’s games.
In short, the play-in games won’t count.
Our bracket isn’t the only one discounting the “First Four” games.
Adam Himmelsbach of The New York Times reports that the online contests run by The New York Times, ESPN, Yahoo Sports and CBS Sports will omit the first-round games because moving up the deadline would “reduce the number of participants.”
“For people who’ve been running their pool for a long time, any kind of change is difficult,” Matt Kornguth, the founder of RunYourPool.com, told the Times. Kornguth said 95 percent of users who contacted him did not want the first-round games counted.
“And trying to communicate the changes to the pool members can be problematic.”
Still, Turner Sports, in conjunction with the NCAA, is hosting something called “National Bracket Day” on Monday in an effort to get folks to fill out their brackets before Tuesday.
The National Bracket Day outreach will feature a larger-than-life Bracket Lounge inside New York’s Time Warner Center that will serve as the epicenter for National Bracket Day.
Through a new 14-year agreement with the NCAA beginning in 2011, Turner Sports and CBS Sports will show every game live across four national television networks: CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.
Tim Hilby, a software engineer from Des Moines, told the Times he planned to include the first-round games in his pool.
“Previously, I hadn’t cared about the play-in game on Tuesday,” Hilby told the Times. “But it just seems like with the last four at-large teams playing, those are teams people will care about, and I think they’re going to have more meaning, so I wanted to put them in.”
Still, Hilby told The Times he will not exclude people who miss Tuesday’s deadline even though those people will miss out on potential points.
“My dad never gets his bracket in on time anyway,” he said.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.