- Round-the-clock treatment opens the network’s NCAA Men’s & Women’s Basketball Championships Coverage
- Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg & Jay Williams to go distance – on all 24 hours
- Multiple studios, locations from Bristol, Conn., Los Angeles and Las Vegas
- Special guests, segments and video elements
ESPN will televise a 24-hour Tournament Challenge Marathon – from the networks studios in Bristol, Conn. and LA Live, plus a set presence from Las Vegas – on Monday, March 13 through Tuesday, March 14. The Tournament Challenge Marathon begins on ESPN with the NCAA Women’s Selection Special Presented by Capital One at 7 p.m. ET Monday and ends on ESPN2 with a special edition of Tournament Challenge from 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesday.
College GameDay analysts Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams will appear on ESPN shows throughout the entire 24 hours. Host Rece Davis will host several editions of Tournament Challenge beginning Monday evening and most of Tuesday.
“For that two-day span leading up to the First Four, all people want to talk about is who did you take in your bracket, and we will give great insight on how to fill it out,” said Davis. “It will be a great challenge to keep Jay, Seth and Jay, who are cranky enough when well-rested, on point when they are sleep deprived. But it’s for a good cause – helping people win their group in the Tournament Challenge.”
Analyst Dick Vitale will appear from ESPN’s Las Vegas set, in addition to special marathon-interrupting “Vitale Service Announcements,” to help fans fill out their bracket.
Tournament Challenge-themed editions of popular ESPN shows include Mike & Mike, First Take, Outside the Lines, Jalen & Jacoby, The Jump and SportsNation, plus live cut-ins from SportsCenter. Special guests and celebrities are expected to participate over the course of 24 hours including comedian Frank Caliendo, former ESPN commentator Brent Musburger, cast members from Cirque du Soleil’s show TORUK and ESPNU’s Little Experts. All programs during the marathon will be streamed on WatchESPN.
“Fans unwavering support of their teams during the NCAA Tournament and picking a winning bracket has become a staple in every home and office, so we think there is no better way to begin the madness than with 24-straight hours of bracket-building coverage on ESPN platforms,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN Executive Vice President, Production. “Building off the foundation laid during the ESPN Fantasy Football Marathon in August, we will again tap into our many resources across television shows, ESPN Digital, ESPN Stats & Information, ESPN Social and much more, while highlighting the new and improved ESPN Tournament Challenge App, to help better serve the fans.”
ESPN’s Tournament Challenge game returns for its 20th season and will again be free for entrants to submit up to 25 entries each for the Men’s and Women’s tournament at ESPN.com/bracket or the ESPN Tournament Challenge App for iOS and Android. New features in the ESPN TC App include the ability to pre-fill brackets before Selection Sunday, Group enhancements to make play with friends and family easier, an all-new News tab, advanced Bracketcast design and functionality, better ESPN Insider integrations, and improved push notifications for up-to-the-second bracket, news and video updates.
Bristol, Conn. studios
- Davis will host the Monday evening edition of Tournament Challenge from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m., plus three separate shows on Tuesday.
- Host Adnan Virk will anchor the 11 p.m. Monday through 3 a.m. Tuesday Tournament Challenge.
- ESPN Radio’s Mike Golic, Jr. and Reese Waters will be paired together on “Fantasy Island” for the entire 24 hours. They will provide the latest Tournament Challenge Marathon updates while monitoring signups and fan activity.
- Chris “The Bear” Fallica” will also be a part of the entire Tournament Challenge Marathon from a studio transformed into a “Bear’s Den” – outfitted with a fire pit and rocks in a comfortable setting. “The Bear” will provide relevant statistical information, betting information and his own predictions on the ESPN analysts surviving the 24 hours.
- Caliendo – a regular contributor to ESPN’s NFL Sunday Countdown and known for his spot-on impersonations of people in the sports world – will join several of the Tournament Challenge shows throughout the 24 hours, in addition to Mike & Mike.
- Joe Lunardi – whose job as ESPN’s resident bracketologist is done after Selection Sunday – will help analyze the decisions made by the NCAA Sports Committee and have fun with his alternative brackets of best cereals, best sitcoms and best sports movies.
- Analysts Rebecca Lobo and Andy Landers will help unveil the women’s bracket during the NCAA Women’s Selection Special Presented by Capital One on Monday, beginning at 7 p.m., and then will help the fans on all-things women’s basketball during the 24 hours.
- Maria Taylor and Kara Lawson will also be on hand to help exclusively announce the women’s bracket but can also be counted on for expert men’s analysis.
- Analyst Dan Dakich will provide analysis and will be focused on the touchscreen content all over the Tournament Challenge Marathon coverage, as well as appearances from analyst LaPhonso Ellis.
- A variety of guests, including Bilas, Greenberg and Williams, will appear on Tournament Challenge-themed Mike & Mike, First Take and Outside the Lines on Tuesday.
LA Live Studios
- Jalen Rose and David Jacoby, the popular Jalen & Jacoby duo, will take over the overnight hosting duties from 3 a.m. – 6 a.m.
- Later in the day on Tuesday, programming includes NBA: The Jump (3 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.) and SportsNation (3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.).
- Bilas, Greenberg and Williams will appear via satellite throughout the shows.
- A rooftop set location from the Beer Park at Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.
- Adam Amin will host ESPN’s coverage from the “Bracket Capital of the World” with analyst Sean Farnham, “Stanford Steve” Coughlin and Vitale.
- Kenny Mayne will have featured segments from around Las Vegas and on set.
- Appearances by Musburger, who will offer his Vegas betting insight.
- The band Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine will provide atmosphere-setting lounge music during the shows.
- Deep analysis of the NCAA bracket (Cinderella teams, possible upsets, top players in each region, bracket predictions, film breakdown).
- ESPN collaborated with LEGO, based nearby in Enfield, Conn., to build a custom College GameDay mural to commemorate the Tournament Challenge Marathon.
- The new Cirque du Soleil touring show inspired by James Cameron’s record-breaking movie AVATAR, TORUK–The First Flight, will have an in-studio performance on Tuesday.
- Bilas sat down for a fun and light-hearted look at the bracket with ESPNU’s Little Experts.
- ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi voiced a “Remember When” piece examining the top storylines from this season.
- Sport Science feature takes a close look on different methods to selecting brackets and the success rates.
- On-air demos, including a whiteboard video, on how to use the Tournament Challenge.
- SportsCenter with Van Pelt will be integrated into Monday night’s marathon, where the host will provide his All-time NCAA Tournament Bad Beats.
- Live cut-ins from several editions of SportsCenter throughout the 24 hours.
- Custom Instagram Stories on @ESPN, @SportsCenter and @CollegeGameDay with behind-the-scenes marathon content and advice on how to fill out your bracket.
- Facebook Live executions that give fans the opportunity to engage directly with ESPN bracket experts along with a few surprise and delight elements.
- Bark at Bilas (#BarkatBilas) – interact and ask Bilas questions on Twitter over the 24 hours.
- Bracket Tips (#BracketTips) blasted on all platforms at all times.
- Behind-the-scenes looks from on-site including the custom LEGO build, Fantasy Island, Bear’s Den and more.
Tournament Challenge Brackets
- Celebrity bracket groups within the Tournament Challenge App include: Comedian Chelsea Handler, WNBA star Breanna Stewart, Musician/Actor Common, TV personality Steve Harvey, The Bachelor Nick Viall, NFL’s Kyle Rudolph and Michael Crabtree, WWE, Super Troopers 2 and The Muppets
- ESPN bracket groups include: Mike & Mike, SportsCenter, Vitale, Scott Van Pelt, Jalen & Jacoby, Rusillo & Kanell, Le Batard Show with Stugotz and Stephen A. Smith.
Tournament Challenge on ESPN.com and ESPN Tournament Challenge App
As previously mentioned, ESPN’s Tournament Challenge game returns for its 20th season and will again be free for entrants to submit up to 25 entries each for the Men’s and Women’s tournament at ESPN.com/bracket or the ESPN Tournament Challenge App for iOS and Android. New features in the ESPN TC App include the ability to pre-fill brackets before selection Sunday, Group enhancements to make play with friends and family easier, an all-new News tab, advanced Bracketcast design and functionality, better ESPN Insider integrations, and improved push notifications for up-to-the-second bracket, news and video updates.
Last year, the Men’s Tournament Challenge game was once again the most popular bracket game in the nation, with 13.0 million brackets, a new all-time mark that surpassed the previous year’s record of 11.6 million. At the peak period of entries leading up to the Round of 64 last year, fans registered 18,503 brackets per minute (308 brackets per second).
At the end of the tournament, all Men’s Tournament Challenge entries finishing in the top 1 percent will be entered in a random drawing to win a trip for two to the 2017 Maui Invitational and a $10,000 Amazon Gift Card prize. In the Women’s Tournament Challenge, entries finishing in the top 1 percent will be entered in a random drawing for a $3,000 Amazon 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 16. The Women’s Tournament Challenge will accept registration until just prior to tip-off of the first game on Friday, March 17.
When fans log in to fill out their brackets and throughout the tournaments, they will have the ability to donate to the V Foundation and enter for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to the 2017 Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, which fields top-caliber matchups, pitting UConn versus Syracuse and Gonzaga against Villanova, in a doubleheader on December 5. The prize package includes two tickets, airfare, accommodations, a signed basketball from all four coaches, and a $400 gift card. To enter the sweepstakes, visit: www.v.org/win. No donation is necessary to win.
Also new the Tournament Challenge this year, ESPN will award an ESPYS Grand Prize Package to the winner of a random drawing from among entries finishing in the top 1 percent of the five largest Celebrity Groups. The prize includes tickets and travel to Los Angeles for the 2017 ESPYS in July.
Tournament Challenge Schedule (subject to change)
|Mon, Mar 13||7 p.m. – 8 p.m.||NCAA Women’s Selection Special Presented by Capital One
Maria Taylor, Andy Landers, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo
|8 p.m. – 11 p.m.||Tournament Challenge
Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Dan Dakich, Seth Greenberg, Andy Landers, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo, Joe Lunardi, Jay Williams with guest Frank Caliendo
|11 p.m. – 3 a.m.||Tournament Challenge
Adnan Virk, Dan Dakich, LaPhonso Ellis, Andy Landers, Kara Lawson, Joe Lunardi with guest Frank Caliendo
|Tues, Mar 14||3 a.m. – 6 a.m.||Jalen & Jacoby
Jalen Rose, David Jacoby with guests Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, Jay Williams
|6 a.m. – 10 a.m.||Mike & Mike
Mike Golic, Mike Greenberg with guests Frank Caliendo, Seth Greenberg, Jay Williams
|10 a.m. – Noon||First Take
Molly Qerim, Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman with guests Jay Bilas and Seth Greenberg
|Noon – 1 p.m.||Tournament Challenge
Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Dan Dakich, Seth Greenberg, Rebecca Lobo, Jay Williams
|1 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.||Outside the Lines
Bob Ley with guests Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, Jay Williams
|1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.||Tournament Challenge
Rece Davis, Dan Dakich, Jay Bilas, LaPhonso Ellis, Seth Greenberg, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo, Joe Lunardi, Jay Williams
|3 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.||NBA: The Jump
Rachel Nichols with guest Jay Williams
|3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.||SportsNation
Michelle Beadle, Marcellus Wiley, LZ Granderson with guest Jay Bilas
|4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.||Tournament Challenge
Rece Davis, Dan Dakich, Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, Kara Lawson, Rebecca Lobo, Joe Lunardi, Jay Williams with guest Frank Caliendo