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21st ESPN Tournament Challenge Collects 17.3 Million Brackets  

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Sets new all-time record with more than 5 million brackets in a single day;
“People’s Bracket” Final Four picks: Virginia, Villanova, North Carolina, Duke;
Potential Cinderellas: Butler, Texas, New Mexico State, Loyola-Chicago.

The 21st ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge collected 17.3 million completed brackets, the second-most ever behind only last year’s explosion of 18.8 million, which surpassed the previous mark set in 2016 by nearly 6 million. At the peak period of entries shortly before the start of the first game today, fans registered 33,472 brackets per minute. Also, ESPN set new all-time records for fan sign-ups and completed brackets on a tip-off Thursday.

On Wednesday, ESPN set a new all-time record for completed Tournament Challenge brackets in a single day with more than 5 million. At the end of ESPN’s Tournament Challenge Marathon on Tuesday, ESPN had collected more than 8.2 million brackets, as well as two of the top six sign-up days in the 21-year history of the game.

People’s Bracket Results
The Men’s Tournament Challenge “People’s Bracket” – which reflects the percentage of fans picking each match-up throughout the tournament – shows that more people picked Virginia, Villanova, North Carolina and Duke to reach the Final Four than any other teams. Virginia and Villanova are picked to reach the national championship game, and Virginia is the most popular pick to win the title.

An analysis of People’s Bracket picks for the Round of 64 finds:

  • No. 10 Butler over No. 7 Arkansas in the East Region was the most picked upset (58.0 percent vs. 42.0 percent).
  • The closest matchup was No. 7 Rhode Island vs. No. 10 Oklahoma in the Midwest Region (50.6 percent vs. 49.4 percent).
  • 96.8 percent of brackets chose Villanova over Radford in the East Region, the biggest favorite of any matchup in any round.

Potential “Cinderella” Stories (lower-seeded teams picked to make the Sweet 16):

  • No. 10 Butler at 11.9 percent (East)
  • No. 10 Texas at 11.2 percent (South)
  • No. 12 New Mexico State at 10.8 percent (Midwest)
  • No. 11 Loyola-Chicago at 9.5 percent (South)

The top five most popular Tournament Challenge groups are “ESPN’s SportsCenter,” which fans joined with more than 829,000 brackets, followed by “Tournament Challenge ESPN,” “ESPN Streak,” “Dick Vitale’s Group” and “ESPN’s SportsNation.”

About ESPN Tournament Challenge
The 21st iteration of ESPN’s Tournament Challenge game is by far the most popular tournament bracket game. It is free for fans to submit up to 25 entries each for the Men’s and Women’s tournaments at ESPN.com/bracket or the ESPN Tournament Challenge App for iOS and Android.

At the end of this year’s 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 2018 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 $10,000 Amazon Gift Card.

Entries for the Men’s Tournament Challenge game were accepted until just prior to the tip-off of the Tournament’s first game today. The Women’s Tournament Challenge will accept registration until just prior to tip-off of the first game tomorrow.

Fans can also test out their skills by picking all NCAA tournament games and more in the ESPN Streak game, where they can compete for $35,000 in prizes each month. On both March 15 and March 16, the fan who creates the longest Streak that day can win $5,000.

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