What is a Tournament Bracket?

tournament brackets inspired by brackets in arial font in Microsoft Word).

What is a Tournament Bracket

A “tournament bracket” is a sequence or series of games between participating teams involved in a single-elimination competition. A tournament bracket is referred to as such because of its resemblance to square bracket punctuation marks when written or typed onto paper. You can see an example of a bracket below:

Whether the tournament bracket is online or printed onto paper, it’s most common structure is represented by a y-axis (vertical) line drawing with two x-axis (horizontal) lines connected; one at the top of the vertical line and the other connected via the bottom of the vertical line. The two horizontal lines are approximately 40%-70% longer than the length of the vertical line.

In the middle of that vertical line, there’s a horizontal line that juts from it, connecting it to the next round of games and brackets. Here’s what a typical tournament bracket looks like magnified.

Usually a bracket in basketball involves two teams playing against one another in a game. The winner of that basketball game advances to the next round. Yes, it’s is basically the outline of a rectangle cut in half.

How Does a Tournament Bracket Work?

With a basketball tournament bracket as the visual representation of how the tournaments teams are matched up in a tournament. How does it work?

A tournament bracket pits an even number of teams in several rounds of games until there’s only one team standing. A bracket contains a minimum of four games,, but usually the tournament field contains many more teams. Tournament rounds are determined by the amount of teams – the more teams there are, the more rounds there are.

Here’s examples of our blank, single-elimination brackets based on how many teams participating in the tourney:

Once the tournament field is set and games begin, there may be an initial round of play-games. Once the play-in games are complete, the completion of each tournament stage will see the field of teams halved. The more teams in the tournament field, the more rounds there are, and the field is usually divided into two halves with the winner advancing closer to the middle. The tournament teams compete in a single-game elimination play where the team that makes it through the bracket without losing is the champion of that tournament.

NCAA Tournament Brackets

Every professional sports league or major team tournament will utilize a bracket.

Leagues like the NBA, the English Premier, CBA, MLB, NFL, La Liga, NHL, and Euroleague that feature a playoff bracket in their postseason. Single-elimination tournaments like the World Cup or Olympic also start off with a bracket.

Arguably the most-popular tournament bracket are the ones that come out for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. This three-week tournament is a whirlwind of dozens of American college and university basketball teams competing for the championship.

Brackets are downloaded weeks beforehand, but are most-often downloaded and printed out when the teams and official tournament schedule are finalized and announced on Selection Sunday. Here’s a sample of some of our NCAA tournament’s brackets you can download:

Tournament brackets are like the Hunger Games, but with sports teams instead of good-looking teenagers. And you get the benefit of tracking the winners and losers in a bracket printed out on paper.

For those of you that are a little picky about how your brackets, we’ve created a image gallery of all the above brackets for you to peruse with your eyes. Feel free to click on the bracket you want to download and print.

You’ll find every type of bracket you’re looking for: seeded, blank, printable, single-elimination, PDF form, landscape layout blind draw and more. And many of our brackets are blank canvases meaning that they can be customized and used for all sports including basketball, hockey, football and soccer, baseball, softball, rubgy, cricket, volleyball, lacrosse, tennis, dodgeball, kickball and more. Now that’s madness.