EDITORIAL: Get your brackets ready

Mar. 15—March Madness is upon us, and while the University of Minnesota will not be in the field, the NCAA Tournament is shaping up to be a fun one.

If you're like us, you likely participate in one or more bracket contests, doing your dead-level best to pick as many winners as possible in the 68-team event.

And if you're like us, that bracket is usually a mess after the first round, with many more misses than makes, leaving you out of contention for the grand prize.

The Albert Lea Tribune has some good news.

The goal is to keep participants engaged throughout the tournament, and we hope you like it. Shortly after the 64-team field is announced Sunday evening, our bracket contest will go live at We encourage you to register and make your picks before the first games are played next Friday.

In another exciting addition this year, we've joined a network of other media outlets across the country to offer a $1 million prize to any contestant who picks a perfect bracket from the Round of 64 to the championship game next month. Other national prizes include a PlayStation 5 and gift cards.

The top two Tribune readers who pick the most games correctly throughout the tournament will win $25 each.

Picks must be submitted by 9 a.m. Thursday, before the first-round games begin. Again, if your picks bomb out in the first two rounds, don't worry — you can pick a fresh bracket beginning with the Sweet 16 and Final Four, with new prizes for each reset.

Besides competing against people in Albert Lea and across the country, you can also set up groups among friends or colleagues to see who can pick the best bracket. So if you want to pick a bracket based on who has the cooler mascot or uniforms, go right ahead. It's all free, and mostly for fun, assuming the Wildcats don't make a run to the Southeastern Conference Tournament title and earn an automatic NCAA bid to put us back in our traditional nail-biting mode this spring.