Deadlines are powerful motivating forces for journalists, tax filers, eurozone negotiators — and bracket pickers. The number of men’s NCAA Tournament brackets submitted per minute by ESPN.com users peaked at 11:51 a.m. EDT on Thursday, mere minutes before the 12:15 p.m tipoff of the first-round opener and the deadline to enter picks, according to data provided by our colleagues at ESPN.com.1 The maximum rate of bracket submissions per minute on Thursday was more than three times the high of the day before and about five times the max on Monday and Tuesday. All told, even counting the wee hours in the U.S., there were more brackets submitted in just half of Thursday than in all of Tuesday.
At CBSSports.com, the surge came even later. Bracket submissions to the site peaked at 11:59 a.m., according to spokeswoman Annie Rohrs.
Not everyone waits until the last minute, though. At ESPN.com, there was an earlier, although lesser, spike in online bracket submissions just after the bracket went up. For every three people who were madly filling in chalk and upsets in their entries just before noon on Thursday, there were two hitting submit on theirs eight minutes after the first Tournament Challenge bracket was submitted at 7:12 p.m. on Sunday.
Maybe it’s my bias as a journalist showing, but I think the procrastinators had the right idea: They could benefit from forecasts like ours.
Check out FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 March Madness Predictions.