The 2021 ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge presented by Allstate, Acura and McDonald’s collected 16.2 million brackets, the fourth consecutive year the No. 1 most popular college basketball bracket game surpassed 16 million, not counting last year’s cancelled tournament. At the peak period of entries shortly before the start of the first game today, fans registered more than 15,000 brackets per minute.
The most popular pick to win the national championship is the West Region No. 1 seed Gonzaga (34.3%), followed by other regional No. 1 seeds Illinois (15.2%), Baylor (10.4%) and Michigan (7.7%). No. 2 seeds Iowa (3.7%), Ohio St. (3.5%), Houston (3.3%), and Alabama (3.0%) rounded out the top eight.
The ESPN People’s Bracket
The Men’s Tournament Challenge “People’s Bracket” – which reflects the percentage of fans picking each match-up throughout the tournament – shows more brackets picked Gonzaga and Illinois to reach the national championship game than any other teams.
The People’s Bracket picks in the Round of 64 also show:
- All four No. 8 seeds (LSU, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Loyola Chicago) were picked to beat their No. 9-seed opponents (St. Bonaventure, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Georgia Tech, respectively).
- Of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchups, LSU in the East was most-favored with 64.2% picking the Tigers over St. Bonaventure.
- No. 12 seeds are usually popular upset picks in the Round of 64, and Georgetown at 42.7% against No. 5 Colorado in the East was the most popular choice, while the second most popular No. 12 pick UC Santa Barbara was favored by just 27.6% of fans to beat No. 5 Creighton in the West.
Top 5 Tournament Challenge Groups
The top five most popular Tournament Challenge groups are ESPN’s SportsCenter, which fans joined with more than 600,000 brackets, followed by ESPNLA Bracket Challenge with more than 300,000. Jay Bilas’ Group, Pardon the Interruption and Mini Stephen A’s Group have more than 100,000 each. Each of these groups are public and unlocked, allowing fans to join at any time during the tournament.
At the end of this year’s tournament, all Men’s Tournament Challenge entries finishing in the top 1 percent based on overall points will be entered in a random drawing to win a trip for two to the 2021 Maui Invitational and $10,000 in Amazon Gift Cards. Entries for the Men’s Tournament Challenge game were accepted until just prior to the tip-off of the Round of 64 today.
Women’s Tournament Challenge presented by Capital One
The Women’s Tournament Challenge will accept entries until just prior to tip-off of the first game this Sunday, March 21 at about 12 p.m. ET. Entries in the ESPN Women’s Tournament Challenge finishing in the top 1 percent will be entered in a random drawing for a $10,000 Amazon Gift Card.