Nate Silver to Debut Interactive Bracket in Conjunction with Today’s Re-Launch of FiveThirtyEight
Comprehensive Coverage of the 2014 NCAA Men’s & Women’s Basketball Tournament on ESPN Digital Platforms
Brackets are back on ESPN.com with sign-ups now open for its popular free ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge presented by Acura and Allstate and ESPN Women’s Tournament Challenge presented by Capital One games. Fans will be able to research and strategize their brackets via Nate Silver’s annual interactive bracket – debuting as part of today’s re-launch of FiveThirtyEight – and in-depth coverage from ESPN.com’s college basketball experts and analysts, with news and predictor and analyzer tools exclusively available to ESPN Insider members.
ESPN Tournament Challenge 2014 & ESPN College Hoops Pick ‘Em
Both the Men’s Tournament Challenge and Women’s Tournament Challenge bracket games return for their 17th seasons and will once again be free for entrants to submit up to ten entries on ESPN.com. At the end of the tournament, all Men’s Tournament Challenge entries that finish in the top 1% are entered in a random drawing for the $10,000 Best Buy Gift Card prize. In the Women’s Tournament Challenge, entries that finish in the top 1% are entered in a random drawing for a $5,000 Best Buy Gift Card. Entries for the Men’s Tournament Challenge game will be accepted until just prior to the tip-off of the Tournament’s first game on Thursday, March 20. The Women’s Tournament Challenge will accept registration until just prior to tip-off of the first game on Saturday, March 22. Fans will be able keep track of their brackets while on the go with the free-to-download ESPN Tournament Challenge app is now available in the App Store and Google Play. The app features full access to brackets with personalized “My Bracket” and “Live Bracket” sections displaying scores and schedules during the tournament.
Throughout the week, ESPN will promote Tournament Challenge with the return of its “Choose Wisely” campaign, which will be amplified through social platforms. As part of the campaign, ESPN is currently hosting a #ChooseWisely Vine Contest – @espn‘s its first ever Vine competition – asking fans to submit their creative six-second expressions of how they creatively make their Tournament Challenge picks. The top submissions will be highlighted in a YouTube video that can be shared on social platforms, and prizing will also be awarded to the best videos. Guest celebrity brackets will also be featured on ESPN.com, including a broad array of athletes, actors and ESPN personalities.
Last year, the Men’s Tournament Challenge game was again the most popular bracket game in the nation, with nearly 8.15 million brackets, up 26.3 percent compared to the previous year and setting a new record. At the peak period, fans registered 8,123 brackets per minute (135 brackets per second), among those of which was a bracket from President Barack Obama.
Additionally, ESPN College Hoops Pick ‘Em – which challenges fans to predict the winner of each tournament matchup and earn bonus points if lower seeded teams win games – is now available for sign-ups. Entries that finish in the top 1% are entered in a random drawing for prizes.
In conjunction with today’s re-launch of FiveThirtyEight, founder and editor-in-chief Nate Silver will debut his annual interactive bracket, which calculates the probability of each team’s chances of winning its first game and of going on to win the tournament. Probabilities will be updated at the conclusion of each game. He will also write periodic blog updates throughout the tournament.
Throughout the week, FiveThirtyEight will also deliver other data-driven stories tied to brackets, including:
- Carl Bialik (senior writer, news) – will explain the statistical near-impossibility of creating a perfect bracket – even with Warren Buffett’s billion dollar prize incentive. He will also take a look at President Barack Obama’s NCAA tournament brackets through history. Has the president become more or less risk-averse? What teams has he favored and disfavored?
- Roger Pielke Jr. (contributor) – will show that predicting a majority of games right doesn’t necessarily translate to being good at prognostication.
ESPN Digital Platforms
ESPN.com will provide complete coverage of the men’s tournament from Selection Sunday through the Final Four. The lineup of experts and analysts includes Andrea Adelson, Eamonn Brennan, C.L. Brown, Kieran Darcy, Chantel Jennings, Andy Katz, Joe Lunardi, Myron Medcalf, Dana O’Neil, Rick Reilly, Adam Rittenberg, Mitch Sherman, Jake Trotter and Austin Ward, as well as ESPN Insiders Jeff Goodman and John Gasaway. Collectively, they will break down the brackets and provide analysis, commentary and features. Additionally, ESPN.com’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) will be available for fans to reference the latest power rankings by team to assist in their bracket picks.
espnW.com will also provide news, analysis and commentary throughout the women’s tournament, from Selection Monday through the Women’s Final Four in Nashville, Tenn. Columnists will provide live coverage of each round of games from coast to coast, with regular video highlights of the matchups. Other plans include contributions from ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo, the continued coverage of five top players in ESPN’s Need to Know initiative, stats, analysis and stories on other players to watch. Tourney Snapshots, which includes team- and fan-submitted social media photos and video with behind-the-scenes access to teams, players and coaches, will return for the second consecutive season. The staff at espnW.com and a handful of WNBA players will also face off in a Women’s Tournament Challenge group.
ESPN Insider will also include a number of additional exclusive features before, during and after the tournament to help break down who gets off the bubble, who is most likely to be this year’s Cinderella and who will be the breakout stars of the tournament. They include:
- Bilas Bracket: ESPN’s Jay Bilas provides his take on how the tournament will shake out with a comprehensive look at every round;
- Giant Killers: Insider’s signature analytics model returns for its ninth year of picking the upsets using key statistical markers and team comparisons;
- Joe Lunardi’s Team Previews: Team-by-team breakdowns of every team in the field by a team led by ESPN’s Bracketologist;
- Goodman’s Secret Storylines: Jeff Goodman divulges key notes on players and teams that can make or break your bracket
- Insider Bracket Cheat Sheet: A one-stop-shop for bracket advice from Insider’s foremost college hoops experts
- Dance Lessons: Hoops stat guru John Gasaway explains how the past and the present provide warning signs for this season’s teams;
- College Basketball Experts Blog: Tips and insight from Fran Fraschilla, Seth Greenberg, Bruce Pearl and Miles Simon before, during and after the big dance;
Additional predictor and analyzer tools available exclusively for ESPN Insider members – and all accessible online and on the mobile Web for the first time – include:
- Bracket Predictor – Tournament Edition: A “wizard” style interface leading through the process of making picks for a bracket, giving users predictions and other relevant information for every bracket matchup. Once the user completes all bracket picks in Bracket Predictor, the user will be presented with the option to transmit the completed bracket to ESPN Tournament Challenge
- Game Predictor: Provides users with predictions and statistical information for actual or hypothetical basketball matchups within the ESPN Tournament Challenge page, giving users tips and guidance for every matchup without leaving the screen;
- Bracket Analyzer: Easily import brackets from ESPN’s Tournament Challenge and receive an analysis that demonstrates and predicts areas of possible improvement to better the chances for victory. The computer generated report includes round-by-round survival odds for all of a user’s game winner picks, the expected number of user picks to be correct, a high level analysis of the risk level of the user’s picks and recommendations for changing certain picks;
- PickCenter: Offers fans a complete breakdown of each and every game complete with predictions, simulations, odds analysis, line moves, significant injuries and more.
- Joe Lunardi Bracket Predictions: A tool that presents a variety of predictions and odds generated by Team Rankings and based on Lunardi’s projected 2014 tournament bracket, as published in the “Bracketology” section of ESPN.com.
ESPN Mobile will also carry complete coverage from writers and analysts, keeping fans up to date on the latest news and highlights on mobile devices via a special section on the ESPN mobile Web. Additionally, fans can sign up for ESPN Alerts to receive real-time information on the game (scores, starts, etc.), breaking news, upsets and more.