How to Set Up a Tournament Bracket

How to Set Up a Tournament Bracket. Your organization has decided to run a basketball tournament as a fundraiser and you are given the responsibility of developing the tournament schedule. Here is a "can't miss" method for setting the tournament schedule. This is based on an eight-team tournament with a three-game guarantee, which is pretty common in youth basketball.

Determine the start time and desired finish time for the tournament. You can run it as a one-day or two-day tournament. To utilize this article's methodology, you will have 13 total games. With a standard 20-minute running clock, you should be able to start a game every hour. Therefore, you will need 13 hours of playing time.

Identify each team with a number from one to eight. If you have some knowledge of the teams, try to separate the teams so you have an equal balance of stronger/weaker teams in #1 to #4 versus #5 to #8.

Divide the teams to form the prelimary round. The first four teams would be in "Pool A." The second four teams would be in "Pool B." The end result will be a winner from each pool that will advance to the championship game.

Schedule each team in "Pool A" to play each other once. The "Pool A" games would be every other hour. For example, Team 1 would play Team 2 at 8 a.m. and Team 3 would play Team 4 at 10 a.m.

Schedule each team in "Pool B" to play each other once. The "Pool B" games would be played after each "Pool A" game.

After all teams in each pool have played each other (total of 12 games), the winner of each pool is determined by which team has the most wins. If there is a tie, the winner is determined by which team won in head-to-head competition. If it is a three-way tie, use the following formula and stop once one team separates itself from the other two: 1. Least points allowed in the three games 2. Least points allowed in the two games against the tied teams 3. Most points scored in the two games against the tied teams 4. If there is still a tie, each team has five players shoot one free throw each. The team that makes the most, wins the pool. If two teams tie, one is eliminated and you shoot another set of five. If all three teams tie, keep shooting rounds until only one team is left standing.

The winners of each pool advance to the championship game.

The winner of the championship game is the tournament champion.


The above steps assume you have one court for the eight teams. You may have multiple eight-team tournaments (e.g., multiple grades). If you have more teams or fewer teams, adapt accordingly. Provide the tournament brackets at least 5 days in advance so teams know what time the games will take place. Post the tournament brackets for all players, coaches and spectators to see. It is important to stay on time. Starting each game on time will ensure that you will get it done within your desired time frame.


If your tournament will be outdoors, schedule a rain date.

article divider