“March Madness” has to be about the most fitting nickname ever devised. It’s the shorthand way of referring to the NCAA Division I Men’s College Basketball Tournament, and even though the tournament spills over into April, the name is most appropriate for capturing the craziness.
Adding to the madness are all the NCAA bracket contests, including many that are free to enter. For the first time, Tennessee’s online sportsbooks are getting in on the fun, offering players a chance to win big prizes without spending a dime.
These free contests are generally available to anyone in the US — not just Tennessee — although in some cases restrictions apply.
You’ll need to register for an account with the sportsbook to play, although depositing is not necessary.
Here’s a quick look at the NCAA bracket contests at local Tennessee sportsbooks.
BetMGM $2 Million Bracket Challenge
At BetMGM there is a free-to-play $2 Million Bracket Challenge. Fill out an entire bracket prior to the first game tipping off on Friday.
If anyone happens to defy the odds and fill out a perfect bracket with all 63 games correct, that entrant will win $2 million. If that doesn’t happen, the entry with the most correct picks will win a $100,000 first prize.
It is still a longshot, but a much more realistic goal.
There will be a leaderboard for this one as well where you can track your progress. You can only enter once, so be sure to submit your best bracket.
DraftKings launches three separate contests
DraftKings actually has three different free-to-play NCAA contests for Tennessee players.
DraftKings March Mania Survivor Pool
DraftKings’ March Mania Survivor Pool is the biggest promotion of the three.
Each day of the tournament, pick just one team you think will win and advance. The only exception will be during the Elite Eight when you’ll pick one winner among the four games happening over two days.
Sounds easy, right? But remember, this is a survivor pool, meaning you cannot pick the same team twice. If you reach a point in the tournament where you have no teams left that you can pick, your entry will be eliminated.
The last entry standing wins a huge $1 million prize, with tied entries splitting the milly.
Meanwhile, for every upset (a lower-seeded team beating a higher-seeded one) during the first two rounds, random entrants will be chosen to receive $10,000.
DraftKings is also running a separate free-to-play Bracket Battle with a $50,000 prize pool.
This one is a more straightforward “fill out a bracket and see how you do” contest, with one entry per person. The best bracket wins $5,000, second- and third-best $1,000 each, all the way down to a “min-cash” of $1 for those finishing 2756th – 7755th.
Championship Series Millionaire Bracket
The third contest is a Championship Series Millionaire Bracket. For this, entrants fill out brackets before Friday’s games start. The first-place prize is $1 million and second-place is $250,000.
Even those finishing from 660th to 1,500th earn a $150 cash prize. Players can enter up to 20 times, too.
Unlike the other contests, the Championship Series Millionaire Bracket contest is only open in a few states served by DraftKings Sportsbook, including Tennessee.
FanDuel $1,000,000 Giveaway (March Million)
FanDuel doesn’t have a free-to-play March Madness contest this time around. But the site is offering a shot at some free money in its $1,000,000 Giveaway, a.k.a. the FanDuel March Million.
Anyone who wagers on an NCAA tournament game on FanDuel Sportsbook between now and Apr. 4 gets an entry into the drawing, with a maximum of 22 entries per person.
It’s not exactly a “free” contest, but it’s a fun perk for those betting on March Madness games anyway.
Action 24/7 Tournament Hoops Challenge
Over at Tennessee’s own sportsbook, Action 24/7, the site is hosting a free-to-play Action 24/7 Tournament Hoops Challenge.
Prizes include $100 free bets for daily winners and a $1,000 cash prize for the overall champion.
Rather than fill out an entire bracket before the tournament starts, the challenge involves picking winners for all of the games before tip-off each day. That means remembering to enter your picks each day before the day’s first game begins.
Whoever picks the most games correctly wins the daily free bet, and the participant picking the most games correctly over the course of the tournament wins the $1,000 cash prize.
You can check where you stand on an ongoing leaderboard as the tournament progresses.
Be aware that the Action 24/7 Tournament Hoops Challenge does not appear in the Action 24/7 sportsbook app. Action 24/7 has a separate “Freeplay Lobby” website where they offer daily free games awarding cash prizes and free bets.
There are other promos for NCAA sports bettors in all the sportsbooks as well, so keep an eye out for those along with the free-to-play contests. Note as well the two newest TN sportsbooks, William Hill and TwinSpires, both of which are going live just in time for the tournament.
Good luck, and try to stay sane and enjoy the madness!