March Madness Simulated Charity Bracket Challenge!

Due to Coronavirus, March Madness 2020 isn't happening. Also, there are parents and guardians out there struggling to figure out how to feed their children while unexpectedly home from school for the near future. In my own small way, I want to help address both of these atrocities.

That's why I'm going to simulate an entire NCAA Tournament, live online and in real time, and simultaneously run a bracket pool to raise money for Harvesters - The Community Food Network to help those kids and families in need.

Here's everything you need to know.

Payment & Charity
  • The cost is $5 per bracket.
  • Pay by cash or Venmo (@Shawn-Schaller), 
  • OR via direct money donation to Harvesters with proof via official receipt (sent to me) with the donation date NO EARLIER than Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
  • Brackets will not be officially entered until payment is received or confirmed (by me).
  • All payments must be received and confirmed by Friday, March 20, at 8:00 pm CT.
  • Even after all brackets are submitted, I'll continue trying to raise money during the 24-plus-hour livestream of the event.
  • 100% - every penny - will be given to Harvesters upon event completion (or immediately via direct payments).


All brackets must be received (with payment) by Friday, March 20, at 8:00 pm CT! You can complete your bracket one of two ways:
  • If you're not scared of Microsoft Excel, please download this bracket spreadsheet from Google Sheets. 
    • Click this link, then click the download button in the upper-right.
    • Open the downloaded file, then click "Enable Editing" in the upper-middle.
    • Follow the directions in the "Instructions" tab to complete your bracket.
    • Save a PDF of your completed "Bracket" tab!
    • Go to the "Output" tab, and highlight and copy all the information (which should resemble your selected winners listed one game per row).
    • Paste the information as plain text into an email (it should just look like in the body of the email).
    • Attach your PDF to an email, note your preferred mode of making a payment, and add "charity bracket" somewhere in the subject line.
    • Send it to (include preferred mode of making a payment).
  • Otherwise, download this bracket PDF.
    • Click this link, then click the download button in the upper-right.
    • Complete it digitally by adding text to it and saving the PDF,
    • OR print and complete it, take a very clear photograph.
    • Attach your PDF or image to an email, note your preferred mode of making a payment, and add "charity bracket" somewhere in the subject line.
    • Send it to (include preferred mode of making a payment).

The Prize

It's just a wooden trophy (a small, super-simplified facsimile of the actual National Championship trophy made by my friend over at Ford Product Design).

What you're really winning is good vibes for helping kids and families in need, and helping me try to replace the March Madness experience missing from my life.

The Stream

I'll be streaming the simulations live and in real-time on my seldom-used Twitch channel (shawnschaller), and also embedded on my website.
  • 63 total games
    • Full-streaming the Field of 64 onward
  • Approximately 25 minutes each
  • 24-28 total consecutive hours of livestream
I won't be playing/participating, but I'll be present the entire time observing, advancing the simulations as needed, and probably playing other games in the background (just like I'd be doing during the real deal).

Simulation Specifics
  • The final bracket used is modeled from Joe Lunardi's final 2020 projection, with minor changes due to game age and limitations.
    • 65 teams instead of 68; last 3 at-large bids omitted
    • 3 minor conference teams not D-I in 2004; replaced with similar-profile teams
  • All games will be simulated on College Hoops 2K5 Basketball (PlayStation 2).
  • The simulations are done with 2004-05 (preseason) rosters!
    • This is important! Teams' 2020 seeds might be far better/worse than their ratings in 2K5.
    • Each team's in-game rating (0-100) is listed next to the team name in the bracket.
    • This in-game rating is a good indicator of how the teams will perform, but it's still appropriately random and difficult to predict.
    • Here are a couple examples:
      • Illinois and Arizona are both 7-seeds, but have in-game ratings of 88 and were among the best teams in 2004-05. 
      • Baylor, a 1-seed, has an in-game rating of 69 and went 9-19 in 2004-05, which should make for an interesting match-up with Gregg Marshall's 16-seeded Winthrop with an in-game rating of 69.
    • Feel free to do some research of the 2004-05 season, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • Games will be simulated with 10-minute halves on "Fast" gameplay at All-American difficulty.
    • Teams typically score 30-40 points
    • Sum totals typically 60-80 points
    • No announcers, on-court chatter (both are pretty glitchy) or replays
  • 2005 NCAA tournament locations/arenas won't match the the appropriate 2020 locales.

What Am I Forgetting?

I don't know, but if you think of anything you can reach me via email, by leaving a comment below, or via any of the mediums listed on the "Connect" page of this website.