How To Play Realtime Brackets

The first bracket game that lets college basketball fans switch their picks, in exchange for points, between and during live tournament games to keep their brackets alive all month long.

Sound too easy?

Think everyone will have a perfect bracket?

Not with our scoring system.

Points available to earn drop as tournament rounds and live games progress. Original picks that are correct earn the most points, but you have the opportunity to switch if your pick is losing, or re-pick a new team when your original gets upset.

Points are awarded for correct picks only. The points you receive for a correct pick depend on when your final pick was submitted. Accumulate the most points by the end of the championship game to prevail over the competition.

Key Game Play Features

Switching Picks

Switching happens during live games and between tournament rounds.

Earlier Picks are Rewarded

The points available to earn drop as the tournament progresses.

Join up to 6 Groups

You can create/join up to 6 tournament groups, including the National Group, which you will be automatically included in

Team Groups

If you want to compete against fellow fans of your favorite team, you can join your team’s tournament group.

Track Original Bracket

Track your Original Bracket, before any switches, alongside your Realtime Bracket.

Repick after Losses

Repick after losses to stay in the action.

Correct Your Original Picks

Correct original picks earn the most points.

Score Alerts

You'll get score alerts when your teams are down.

Play Anywhere

Realtime Brackets is available for free on desktop, iPhone, and Android.

Making & Changing Picks

How do you fill out your bracket before tournament tip-off?

Before the tournament starts, Realtime Brackets is just like the traditional bracket game that you have been playing for years. On the evening of Sunday March 12th, the tournament’s 68 teams will be announced, and you’ll be able to fill out your bracket, one round and one team at a time until your entire bracket is completed. Be sure to completely fill out your bracket by making a pick for all 63 games before the tournament starts on Thursday, March 16th.

How do I make changes to my bracket during the tournament?

With Realtime Brackets, you can make changes to your bracket between and during tournament games.

Why would I want to switch picks during the tournament?

We’re sure you could think of a few reasons, but we’re willing to help you out. Below are three examples that just might convince you that Realtime Brackets is the better way to bracket.

  1. YOU’RE RETHINKING YOUR ORIGINAL PICKS

    So, you’re not a tournament expert. Hey, that’s okay! The Round of 64 has played out and, by the looks of your pre-tournament picks, your chances of winning are very slim. After you’ve had a chance to study up by watching the first round games play out, you can reset your bracket and improve your chances of winning. Maybe you should start by removing that would-be #9 seed Cinderella from the semi-finals before they get smoked in the Round of 32?

  2. OOPS! YOUR TEAM LOST

    You had the winning team selected all week; but right before the tournament started, you changed your mind. And it gets worse: you picked the losing team to advance three rounds. In any other bracket game, you’d have a busted, unfixable bracket. But with Realtime Brackets, you can select a new pick. And not just for the next round, but you can make new selections for each round that you previously had the losing team in. Yep, it’s as easy as a breakaway layup.

  3. THE GAME’S ALREADY STARTED AND YOUR TEAM IS LOSING

    Upsets happen. Or maybe you bravely picked SMU to advance further than everyone else. Shortly after the game starts, you realize that playing in the American Conference might have something to do with the fact that SMU only lost three games all season long, and that they’re not going to come out on top in the game you’re watching. Luckily, you signed up for Realtime Brackets, and you can change your pick during the game.

When exactly can you change team picks?

Once you’ve got your bracket completed, you can switch picks anytime between tournament rounds and during live games, well at least up until the last TV timeout under 4 minutes in the game. Wait, you thought you could dunk in a freebie pick at the buzzer? We’re not running a charity here!

During live games the points earned if you switch drop after each TV timeout and after halftime. Which adds up to 9 opportunities to switch per game. Once the TV timeout starts, Realtime Brackets has an in-app countdown letting you know how much time you have to switch picks before available points drop again. The final time to switch in a game comes at the last TV timeout, with 4 minutes left to play.

Realtime Bracket Scoring

Just like a traditional bracket, in Realtime Brackets, you earn points by making correct picks. Also, just like a traditional bracket, an incorrect pick in Realtime Brackets is worth 0 points (that’s zip, nada, zero). So your goal, if you are even the slightest bit competitive, should be to avoid incorrect picks at all costs. To help you do this, Realtime Brackets lets you make changes to your bracket while the tournament games are in-progress.

Your original pre-tournament picks will always give you the chance to earn the most points. But remember, a pick needs to be correct in order for you to earn any points. And if you’ve learned anything from your past busted brackets, you know that several, if not most, of your original picks will be wrong. So, in order to maximize your points, you are undoubtedly going to need to make changes to your bracket.

Each time you make a change, the possible points that you can earn will decrease, because points available depreciate as the tournament progresses. The possible points that you are eligible to earn for any given correct pick will be determined based on the time at which you entered (or saved) that pick for the final time. The sooner you enter a pick and the longer you stick with that pick, the more points your pick will potentially earn for your bracket.

To sum it up, Realtime Brackets is all about making the right pick as soon as you possibly can. Strategy and luck -- you might just need both to prevail!

How do you know how many possible points a pick is worth?

Next to each team on your bracket, you will see a point value that represents the current possible points available for selecting that team in the corresponding round. Before the tournament starts, you will notice that for each round the possible points available for selecting any team is the same. That is, any correct pick in the Round of 64 is worth 30 points, any correct pick in the Round of 32 is worth 60 points, and so on.

Here is a full breakdown of the pre-tournament possible points available per round:

  • Round of 64: 30pts
  • Round of 32: 60pts
  • Round of 16: 120pts
  • Round of 8: 240pts
  • Round of 4: 480pts
  • Championship: 960pts

Once the tournament starts, you will begin to notice that the possible points available for the teams you did not select before the tournament begin to decrease. In fact, each time a new round starts, the possible points available for changing or making a new pick will decrease. Keep reading for how this works.

*Tip: Following each round, be sure to make the desired changes to your bracket BEFORE the next round starts. Because each time a new round starts, the possible points available for making a new pick or changing an existing pick decreases.

What if you wanted to make changes to your bracket after the Round of 64? Below is a breakdown of the possible points available in each round for a correct pick that was entered before the start of the Round of 32.

  • Round of 32: 48pts
  • Round of 16: 96pts
  • Round of 8: 192pts
  • Round of 4: 384pts
  • Championship: 768ts

Example: Because you don’t pay attention to the regular season (even though your friends would think differently based on all the trash-talking you do), you selected the #8 seed Kentucky to only win two games in the 2014 tournament. After watching them play their opening game, you quickly realized that they could quite possibly be the best #8 seed your expert eyes had ever seen. If you had been playing Realtime Brackets, you could have adjusted your bracket to have Kentucky advance to the final game.

Here is how your possible points would have broken down, if you had made this switch before the start of the Round of 32:

Round of 32: 60pts. Hey, wait a minute! I thought you said this was worth 48 possible points? No. Remember that before the tournament started, you selected Kentucky to win its first two games. Because you are not changing this pick, you retain the pre-tournament possible point value of 60 for a correct pick in the Round of 32.

Round of 16: 96pts. Because Kentucky is a new pick for you in this round, it is going to be worth less than the 120 points possible for your pre-tournament selection in this round.

Round of 8: 192pts

Round of 4: 384pts

*Tip: You can change your picks as many times as you would like. But before you decide to make a switch, be sure that you have made up your mind. Because once you confirm a switch, you will not be able get back the possible point value associated with your original pick.

Let’s look at changing your pick during a live game.

Each time a game starts, the possible points available for making a new pick or switching an existing pick will decrease.


Let’s take a Round of 64 game as an example. As you will remember from above, a pick entered pre-tournament for a Round of 64 game is worth a possible 30 points. So, let’s assume that prior to last year’s tournament starting, you picked #3 Iowa State to beat #14 UAB in the first game of last year’s tournament. Of course, you remember that UAB upset Iowa State and busted your bracket in the very first game of the 2015 tournament. BUMMER. If you had been playing Realtime Brackets, you could have changed your pick during that game to avoid the heart-breaking upset.

Below is a breakdown of the possible points you could have received based on when you finally decided to change your pick to UAB.

  • Between Start of Game & End of 1st Timeout: 29 pts
  • Between End of 1st & End 2nd TV Timeout: 28 pts
  • Between End of 2nd & End of 3rd TV Timeout: 27 pts
  • Between End of 3rd & End of 4th TV Timeout: 26 pts
  • Between End of 4th TV Timeout & End of Halftime: 25 pts
  • Between End of Halftime & End of 5th TV Timeout: 24 pts
  • Between End of 5th & End 6th TV Timeout: 22 pts
  • Between End of 6th & End of 7th TV Timeout: 18 pts
  • Between End of 7th & End of Last TV Timeout: 12 pts

What is the full breakdown of possible points available?

Glad you asked! Here they are:

Possible Points for picks made pre-tournament:

  • Round of 64: 30pts
  • Round of 32: 60pts
  • Round of 16: 120pts
  • Round of 8: 240pts
  • Round of 4: 480pts
  • Championship: 960pts

Possible Points for picks made during a live game in the Round of 64:

  • Between Start of Game & End of 1st Timeout: 29 pts
  • Between End of 1st & End 2nd TV Timeout: 28 pts
  • Between End of 2nd & End of 3rd TV Timeout: 27 pts
  • Between End of 3rd & End of 4th TV Timeout: 26 pts
  • Between End of 4th TV Timeout & End of Halftime: 25 pts
  • Between End of Halftime & End of 5th TV Timeout: 24 pts
  • Between End of 5th & End 6th TV Timeout: 22 pts
  • Between End of 6th & End of 7th TV Timeout: 18 pts
  • Between End of 7th & End of Last TV Timeout: 12 pts

Possible Points for picks made Pre-Round of 32:

  • Round of 32: 48pts
  • Round of 16: 96pts
  • Round of 8: 192pts
  • Round of 4: 384pts
  • Championship: 768pts

Possible Points for picks made during a live game in the Round of 32:

  • Between Start of Game & End of 1st Timeout: 47 pts
  • Between End of 1st & End 2nd TV Timeout: 46 pts
  • Between End of 2nd & End of 3rd TV Timeout: 45 pts
  • Between End of 3rd & End of 4th TV Timeout: 44 pts
  • Between End of 4th TV Timeout & End of Halftime: 43 pts
  • Between End of Halftime & End of 5th TV Timeout: 41 pts
  • Between End of 5th & End 6th TV Timeout: 38 pts
  • Between End of 6th & End of 7th TV Timeout: 32 pts
  • Between End of 7th & End of Last TV Timeout: 24 pts

Possible Points for picks made Pre-Round of 16:

  • Round of 16: 76pts
  • Round of 8: 152pts
  • Round of 4: 304pts
  • Championship: 608pts

Possible Points for picks made during a live game in the Round of 16:

  • Between Start of Game & End of 1st Timeout: 74 pts
  • Between End of 1st & End 2nd TV Timeout: 72 pts
  • Between End of 2nd & End of 3rd TV Timeout: 70 pts
  • Between End of 3rd & End of 4th TV Timeout: 68 pts
  • Between End of 4th TV Timeout & End of Halftime: 66 pts
  • Between End of Halftime & End of 5th TV Timeout: 64 pts
  • Between End of 5th & End 6th TV Timeout: 61 pts
  • Between End of 6th & End of 7th TV Timeout: 56 pts
  • Between End of 7th & End of Last TV Timeout: 46 pts

Possible Points for picks made Pre-Round of 8:

  • Round of 8: 111pts
  • Round of 4: 222pts
  • Championship: 444pts

Possible Points for picks made during a live game in the Round of 8

  • Between Start of Game & End of 1st Timeout: 109 pts
  • Between End of 1st & End 2nd TV Timeout: 107 pts
  • Between End of 2nd & End of 3rd TV Timeout: 105 pts
  • Between End of 3rd & End of 4th TV Timeout: 103 pts
  • Between End of 4th TV Timeout & End of Halftime: 101 pts
  • Between End of Halftime & End of 5th TV Timeout: 99 pts
  • Between End of 5th & End 6th TV Timeout: 96 pts
  • Between End of 6th & End of 7th TV Timeout: 89 pts
  • Between End of 7th & End of Last TV Timeout: 78 pts

Possible Points for picks made Pre-Semifinals

  • Round of 4: 182pts
  • Championship: 364pts

Possible Points for picks made during a live game in the Semifinals:

  • Between Start of Game & End of 1st Timeout: 180 pts
  • Between End of 1st & End 2nd TV Timeout: 178 pts
  • Between End of 2nd & End of 3rd TV Timeout: 176 pts
  • Between End of 3rd & End of 4th TV Timeout: 174 pts
  • Between End of 4th TV Timeout & End of Halftime: 172 pts
  • Between End of Halftime & End of 5th TV Timeout: 170 pts
  • Between End of 5th & End 6th TV Timeout: 166 pts
  • Between End of 6th & End of 7th TV Timeout: 159 pts
  • Between End of 7th & End of Last TV Timeout: 146 pts

Possible Points for picks made Pre-Championship Round:

  • Championship: 322pts

Possible Points for picks made live during the Championship game:

  • Between Start of Game & End of 1st Timeout: 320 pts
  • Between End of 1st & End 2nd TV Timeout: 318 pts
  • Between End of 2nd & End of 3rd TV Timeout: 316 pts
  • Between End of 3rd & End of 4th TV Timeout: 314 pts
  • Between End of 4th TV Timeout & End of Halftime: 312 pts
  • Between End of Halftime & End of 5th TV Timeout: 310 pts
  • Between End of 5th & End 6th TV Timeout: 307 pts
  • Between End of 6th & End of 7th TV Timeout: 301 pts
  • Between End of 7th & End of Last TV Timeout: 290 pts

When do the 9 TV timeouts occur during a live game?

TV timeouts occur during the game at the first dead ball (or stoppage in play) under 16, 12, 8, and 4 minutes of each half, and during halftime.

What does it take to be victorious?

Score more points than the competition. It’s that simple. In the event that two or more players end the tournament with the same amount of Total Points, they will be determined to have tied. Which leads us to our tiebreaker. In this case, the user with the highest Original Score will be determined to be the victor. See the next question for Original Bracket scoring.

What about my locked-in, traditional bracket?

You’re holding onto the past, but that’s OK! We track all the selections you made before any switching occurred. This way, we can provide you with your “Original Rank,” and you can see how busted your first bracket is! We determine your Original Rank with a traditional scoring system. Any correct pick in any round is worth the amount of points outlined below. Any incorrect pick is worth zero. Pretty simple, and pretty boring if you ask us. That’s why Realtime is the way to play.

Round of 64: 30pts

Round of 32: 60pts

Round of 16: 120pts

Round of 8: 240pts

Round of 4: 480pts

Championship: 960pts

Want to play with your friends, family, or colleagues?

Realtime Brackets wants to help you kick up your annual tournament pool several notches this year. For that reason, our game lets you create groups to compete directly against your friends, family, co-workers, and archrivals. We also have featured groups that are public, so you can compete against other fans for the best bracket. Be sure to check out your ranking in the Reese’s National Group!

Here are some things you should know about how groups work:

You can keep your group private:

If you want to keep things in the family and only allow people you know to join your group, don’t worry! We automatically make your group private. This means your group will be password protected. As a matter of fact, we also automatically generate a group password that you can change later if you want. If you’re a Group Administrator with an open door policy, we let you switch your group to public at any time in Administrator Settings.

How do I join a tournament group?

It’s quite simple actually! You can go to the Group Directory through the Join Group button on the My Groups page and search for public and private groups. We’ll walk you through the rest. Have a tough time remembering passwords? We got you covered. Just have your group Administrator or anyone in the group send you an invite link. Click the link, and you can join automatically without entering any passwords!

How do I join my team’s group?

Have a favorite college basketball team? You’re in luck! We have Team Challenge groups open to the public for all major conference teams. That’s almost 80 groups to choose from! Find these teams under the Schools tab in the Group Directory. Team Groups let you compete against and be social with all the other loud ‘n’ proud fans!

There you have it! Everything you need to know about Realtime Brackets. If you’ve still got questions or just want to chat hoops with us, drop us a note at support@rtbrackets.com.