LAURINBURG — With selection Sunday right around the corner, The Laurinburg Exchange is giving readers a chance to get in on the action of this year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
On Saturday, the bracket for this year’s tournament will appear on The Exchange’s website. Once the 68 teams have been selected the bracket will be updated and readers can submit their selections. A printed version of the bracket will appear in Tuesday’s paper but participants should note the contest is strictly online only — no paper brackets will be accepted.
The paper bracket is simply to help make transferring selections to the computer quicker and easier.
Fans will provide their name and contact information when they register and will also be asked a voluntary series of questions. During registration, the system gives people the opportunity to sign up as a group, or as an individual — so a family or office of basketball aficionados can compete against each other.
Once registered, participants will set up a username and password that will allow them to check their picks and see how they stack up against their competition. No entry or contact information will be visible, only usernames.
Unlike in years past, The Exchange has added an interesting twist to this year’s bracket selections. Participants will have a chance to re-pick — twice. Readers will make the initial 68 selections when the teams are announced on March 12.
When the tournament reaches the Sweet 16, participants will be able to go back to their — busted — brackets and re-pick, if the teams they originally selected were eliminated.
When the final four teams are announced participants will get to go back and re-pick a third time. People should also note that they don’t have to fill out an initial bracket to make Sweet 16 or Final Four picks. Participants will receive an e-mail reminding them when it’s time to re-pick.
There will be a total of eight winners, who will be chosen by the provider of the online brackets — the provider has no affiliation with any of the local advertisers or staff at The Exchange. Winners will each receive a $50 gift certificate from one of the participating businesses. If there are more than eight people who correctly choose then 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s basketball champion, a separate drawing will be held to determine eight winners.
Prizes will be awarded April 7. Each winner will accept his/her prize from one of the sponsors and will have their photo featured in The Exchange.
Another new edition to this year’s contest is eight VIP Pickers who will provide their picks each week, which will appear on Wednesday in the sports section. The VIP Pickers for this year’s tournament, include Dean Nichols from Nic’s Pic Kwik; Laurinburg Mayor Matthew Block; Tracie Leviner from G&M Outlet; Vera Meggs at Stanton’s Bar-B-Que; Ron Riggins from Champ’s; Adam Wilhelm from AJW Landscaping; Randy McCall, Jr. from Associated Realty and Sports Editor Amber Hatten.
After their initial picks, the VIP Pickers will return on March 22 to give their “followers” some help on choosing their Sweet Sixteen picks and reveal their own. On March 29, the VIP Pickers will provide advice on who participants should put in their Final Four along with who they have tabbed to win it all.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.