Students, Faculty Vie for March Madness Glory


For the fourth time in five years, several students and teachers at Friends Select submitted brackets to the FSS Bracket Challenge. 

In any March Madness competition, participants make predictions for the NCAA Men’s Division One Basketball Tournament and then compare their accuracy, often through a computer algorithm. In 2017, approximately 70,000,000 people completed at least one bracket. The tournament has 64 teams; in each round, half of the remaining teams are eliminated.

Through the first two rounds, Elliot Forman leads all 33 challenge entrants with 46 out of 64 possible points. Behind Elliot are Associate Upper School Director Erin Pratt (41), Zion Todd ‘22 (40), and Lucy Doss ‘21. Because participants must predict the entire bracket before the tournament begins, some brackets are currently competitive but have little chance of retaining their high spots.

Elliot, whose bracket ranks in the top 1,000 across the United States, took a direct approach to his bracket. “I picked my Final Four by going round by round and just picking who I thought would win. I knew some things about strategy but there were some picks where I just had a gut feeling,” he says.

Participants’ selections were influenced by everything from statistics to fondness for specific logos. “Sometimes I made picks on gut feelings and personal preferences, but sometimes it was just an experience or how I feel about a particular college or university,” says Erin.

Several community members’ brackets were busted by a number of stunning early-round upsets: surprise losses from Illinois, Texas, and Ohio State eliminated many competitors’ predicted champions. However, students and teachers who selected prominent teams like Gonzaga and Baylor are still in good standing.

Previous champions include Mia Cohen ‘21 (2019), Henry Fogg ‘22 (2018), and Zachary Levine ‘22 (2017). This year, though, past success does not indicate high performance: Mia, Henry, and Zachary have little chance of winning.

Although many participants are generally uninterested in sports, the entertaining and straightforward nature of the NCAA tournament is a compelling draw. “I don’t follow basketball in the slightest, but I always watch March Madness,” says Lucy Doss ‘21, who currently sits in third place. “The brackets more or less come down to luck, so you don’t need to know jack about the sport.”