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Time to play March Madness Survivor!

We break down rules and strategy for taking part in a Survivor Pool during the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

March Madness is upon us with the 2021 NCAA Tournament tipping off this Thursday, March 18. The First Four opens the tournament on Thursday and then we get two days of first round action on Friday and Saturday.

The most prominent tool for enjoying the tournament is the bracket. You pick a winner for every single game all the way through the National Championship Game. Most of us usually never win, but it gives you the proverbial skin in the game to track. Maybe you last and get three weekends of interest. More than likely a few upsets on Friday will have you throwing your bracket in the trash by dinner time.

There are other opportunities to enjoy the NCAA Tournament. One that lets you focus in on one game at a time is a Survivor pool. This has become a popular fixture of NFL season and is growing in popularity for March Madness. DraftKings Sportsbook is offering one such Survivor pool that is free to play.


  • The game does not include the First Four.
  • For the first three rounds you pick one team each day to win. For the Elite 8, you select one team for the entire round (Monday and Tuesday).
  • You can only pick a given team once in the contest
  • All picks lock at the start time of the first game each day, so you can’t wait and see later in the round.
  • If you reach a point where you don’t have an available team to pick, you are eliminated.


The rules in play mean you don’t want to be using your No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the first round. Of course, if you think a given No. 1 is likely to get upset sooner than later, by all means, pick them earlier.

In a bracket, we’ll sprinkle in upsets because we know they’ll happen. Even though we don’t know specifically who, a few wrong upset picks won’t always decimate your bracket. In a Survivor pool, one wrong pick and you’re done. Over the two days of the first round, you’re likely better off taking a safer pick, maybe in the 3- or 4-seed range. It’s just a matter of survive and advance before you really want to start getting crazy.