You don’t have to know anything about sports to enjoy a tournament in March. The NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, affectionately known as March Madness, officially kicks off with the "First Four" play-in games on March 15 and 16. But the madness isn’t limited to basketball—websites of all kinds stage their own tournaments, using reader participation to crown winners in every conceivable type of contest. Here are some that will start soon or have already started.
1. TV COUPLES MARCH MADNESS CHALLENGE
Zimbio has a tournament to decide the best TV couple of the past year. There are 64 couples in the running, and first round voting is going on now in the Ross & Rachel Conference, the Sam & Diane Conference, the Pacey & Joey Conference, and the Zack & Kelly Conference. Those classic couples aren’t in the running, but current shows are well represented.
2. MARCH MUSIC MADNESS
YouTube channel Coverkiller Nation is doing a “battle of the bands,” completely on YouTube. Each region in the first round has been posted as a video, and viewers place their votes in the comments. Rush was last year’s winner, so the regions this year are the Lifeson division, the Lee division, the Peart division, and the Starman division. Follow the progress of the tournament at the Music Madness website.
3. TOURNAMENT EARTH 4.0
NASA Earth Observatory presents Tournament Earth, a competition between the best images from various observatories. The interactive bracket has clickable images for each of the 32 contestants in the Data Section, Art Section, Event Section, and Photograph Section, in case you want to record your tournament picks and compare them to the final results. First-round voting is going on now, and the tournament will wrap up on April 1.
4. THE MORNING NEWS TOURNAMENT OF BOOKS
Powell’s City of Books presents their annual Morning News Tournament of Books. This is the 12th year of the tournament, and 17 books published in 2015 are in the running, culled from a list of 86. Voting for the first-round matchups begins March 8.
5. TEEN OTP MADNESS
Forever Young Adult has a different tournament each year. This year, they are staging one called Teen OTP (one true pairing) Madness. This is a battle between 64 couples from TV and movies. These are “shipping wars,” so the brackets are called USS Passion, USS Lust, USS Romance, and USS Devotion. The matchups will be decided by your votes, beginning Monday March 7.
6. LENT MADNESS
Already underway, Lent Madness is now into the second round. The annual tournament serves as a daily Catholic devotional, with matchups designed to spark introspection. The bracket includes 32 saints battling their way to the Golden Halo—for example, the recent matchup between St. Barnabas and St. Elmo.
7. MAMMAL MARCH MADNESS
The blog Mammals Suck …Milk! presents their annual Mammal Madness Tournament. Which animal will reign supreme for 2016? The bracket starts with 65 mammals divided into four regions: Mighty Giants, Mascot Mammals, Chill Mammals and Mammals of the Nouns. There’s an alternative bracket with the same animals but labeled in their scientific names. The wild card play-in round begins Monday, March 7.
8. THEOLOGIANS FACE OFF
Logos Bible Software is staging a tournament that pits current and historical theologians against each other, and the company will be discounting books by those who are eliminated. Round one voting is going on now. So far, N.T. Wright defeated Richard Bauckham and Craig Blomberg took down Jürgen Moltmann. Click the names on the bracket to bring up current and finished matches.
9. MARCH MADNESS BOOK TOURNAMENT
The Grafton Public Library in Grafton, Wisconsin invites you to vote in their March Madness Book Tournament. The tournament started with 64 books [pdf] that have already been winnowed down to 16, as voting is now in the third round. Each vote enters you into a drawing for an undisclosed grand prize.
10. MENSCH MADNESS
The Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) presents Mensch Madness. Previous tournaments featured heroes of the the TaNaKh (2014) and Creatures of Judaism (2015). This year, the tournament is between eight great Jewish scholars of history. If this is like previous tournaments, there will be no audience voting involved, but rather a hypothetical battle between the competitors explained in posts at the website My Jewish Learning. To keep up with matchups as they appear, follow this link.