March Madness bracket conundrum
March 10, 2015 3:59 PM   Subscribe

I want to make a bracket for a March Madness-style competition in one of my classes, but most of the brackets I can figure out will end up giving a significant portion of my class byes in the first round. Can you help?

I have 23 students. I figured I could just give one of them a bye in the first round, so I essentially have 24 slots, to make the numbers easier, but it doesn't really solve all the problems.
My big problem is I can't force there to be only 2 kids in the championship if I just go in order (Round 1: 24, Round 2: 12, Round 3: 6, Round 4: 3). If I have a traditional 4 region-style bracket, 8 kids won't have to go the first round.
If there a solution here I haven't thought of?
posted by kingfishers catch fire to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total)
Best answer: Is there a way that Round 1 can be three people per contest, and 2 of the three move on? (This of course depends on what the contest is and if that's feasable). You'll have 2 byes (so it's a little worse), plus 7 groups of 3 kids where 14 move on = 16 kids, then you can do normal tournament from there.
posted by brainmouse at 4:10 PM on March 10, 2015

Everyone goes in the first round. The 12 winners go on, and so do the 4 losers who had the most points, or lost by the smallest amount.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:11 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Basically, you need a power of two to make a bracket. You could do three brackets ("regions") of eight and have the winners play a round robin for the championship.
posted by hoyland at 4:29 PM on March 10, 2015

You need a qualifying round of some kind. All 23 students compete in some kind of preliminary contest and the 16 best performers make the tournament.

You can also use the qualifying round results to seed the bracket.
posted by chrchr at 4:30 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

You could also take a page from the NCAA men's basketball tournament and call the first round "play-in games" — with 23 people you'd need 7 play-in games to get it down to 16, rather than saying 9 players get first-round byes.

The NCAA men's basketball tournament currently has 68 teams, but they refer to the first round as consisting of 4 play-in games, rather than saying 60 teams get first-round byes, even though the two are functionally equivalent.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:08 PM on March 10, 2015

Response by poster: It's a poetry reading competition, so I'm trying to avoid having to make some of the kids find one more poem to recite than others. These suggestions are helpful so far, thank you!
posted by kingfishers catch fire at 5:26 PM on March 10, 2015

Best answer: A slight variation of brainmouse's suggestion then: have 5 groups of 3 plus 2 groups of 4 the first round, with one person from each group eliminated; then you're left with 16 for the next round.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:34 PM on March 10, 2015

The easiest answer is to make the first round groups of 3. If round 1 is a 3 poem reader face off, with only one person advancing out of the three - then you have 8 groups of 3, and would have 8 readers advance out of the first round.
posted by Flood at 4:12 AM on March 11, 2015

Response by poster: I ended up simply making 7 groups (5 of 3 and 2 of 4) and one person is eliminated first round. Thanks guys!
posted by kingfishers catch fire at 1:44 PM on March 15, 2015

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