4 Great Ways to Enjoy March Madness at Work

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4 Great ways to enjoy March Madness at work

One of my favorite times of year is March Madness. I guess since I work from home now I can, theoretically speaking, watch games during March Madness but then I wouldn’t get any work done. I do miss working in an office setting where I could partake in the camaraderie of March Madness tournaments at work.

While I do love football at pretty much any level, following March Madness come in a close second to my fondness for all things football.

To give you a little background, I grew up in ACC country where college basketball was everywhere and most teams were either good or average at worst. The NCAA Tournament games begin on a Tuesday (this Tuesday to be exact) and start out with games going late into the night and end up with One Shining Moment on a Monday evening early in April. Add to that the growth of some Cinderella teams the last few years and it can be easy to get caught up in the hoopla.

However, watching March Madness at work can be a major headache for employers as people call in sick or watch the games on their computer which impacts productivity. I think it’s the smart employers though that see this and try to use it to help improve employee morale while at the same time allowing employees to enjoy something they might like.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with some ways to watch March Madness at work and still get your work done.

March Madness is About Following the Games


Many companies hate March Madness time as it never fails that employees are trying to watch the games on their computers while working or constantly checking their phones for the scores. I understand the frustration on many employers’ parts.

***Related: Want to catch the action at home, but don’t have cable? Here’s how to watch March Madness without cable and save buckets of cash*** 

In light of this, why not meet the employees in the middle and have the games on in lunchrooms, or if there are TVs (here are the top rated ones on Amazon) in the common work area have the games on there?

While it may mean you do not get to watch the game as a whole it, it does allow you to follow it casually while at the same time not slowing down the computer network. If you work somewhere that does not do that, simply ask if it’s an option. Don’t be the bad guy though and call in “sick” because you don’t want to miss the game, many employers are just too smart for that.

If you can watch games while at work, Hulu with Live TV can be accessed via desktop, or your smartphone. Try their 7-day free trial to see if it does the trick for you. It’s the only service that will let you see all the games.

Fill Out Some Brackets


Half of the fun of March Madness is filling out a bracket. Whether you research it and have certain teams you think will make it to the Final Four, or simply guess it can be fun for many. This can be done in simple paper fashion, or you can use of a number of websites that offer doing this for free like Yahoo.

Yahoo allows you set up teams of people that you can compete with or just enter a competition on your own against others with no money on the line. I have also seen this taken one step further by having teams of people go against each other with the winning team getting something like a free lunch at the end of March Madness or by giving them a free hour of vacation for each individual on the team.

I will give a disclaimer though that I am not necessarily endorsing gambling on March Madness, nor betting on sports. The numbers, from 2016, show that over $9 billion was wagered on the NCAA tournament, according to MarketWatch, and only $100 million of that was done through legal means. That is just a crazy stupid number.

Have a Potluck


What sporting event does not go with a potluck? This still holds true with watching March Madness at work. Just because it’s a potluck does not mean that is has to be junk food, as you’re likely sitting at a desk.

***Related: Do you love NFL football, but want to cut the cord? Here’s how to watch NFL games without cable and still catch all the action!***

I have seen veggie trays as well as fruit trays hold their own as desirable finger foods at times like this because they can be consumed quickly. I’ve also seen creative snack ideas revolving around teams in the NCAA tournament that always go over well.

A crock pot is a great investment for times like March Madness because you can take your snacks to work and keep them warm. Better yet, you can also use it at home for evening games.

The point is to have fun with it and be a little creative so you can still partake in the fun and maybe even watch a little of March Madness at work.

4 great ways to enjoy March Madness festivities at work!

Pick A Team


This final one is a bit like the filling out the brackets section. It gives you a little skin in the game without gambling on March Madness. How this works is that you have each interested employee choose a team, from a hat, that they’ll support and they all put in a certain dollar amount. It can be up to you, but I have seen anywhere from $1-$5 per person.

The person who picked the winner will get to win the pot at the end of the NCAA tournament. This allows for some fun, while also some competition to see who might end up with the loot.

Just make sure that your employer is fine with such an arrangement before pursuing this option, if they are it can be a nice little addition to your online saving account (we recommend Barclays as they pay 2.20 percent and require no minimum balance) by winning your March Madness pool at work.


Will you be following the NCAA tournament this year, and if so who will you be pulling for? What does your employer do to allow you to watch March Madness at work?


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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


  • Jon @ MoneySmartGuides says:

    At my office we have a tournament. It’s actually the whole first floor of companies. Everyone throws in $5 and the 3 companies each throw in $100 on top. Then we gets points for picking winners. The 3 highest scores win. It’s a lot of fun.

    As for who I am picking….I have no idea. The fact that so many mid-majors can beat top teams now makes its great to watch and root for the underdog, but it makes picking winners that much harder.

    • John says:

      That does sound like a lot of fun Jon! I bet that can be pretty competitive. I agree, the mid-majors really have taken a big step the last few years which makes it more fun to watch.

  • Greg@ClubThrifty says:

    Ah, March Madness! It is always fun to fill out the brackets, even if you don’t have any idea about what is going on. Look out for Butler again this year. They have beaten both Indiana and Gonzaga….

    • John says:

      I know, I’ve always enjoyed filling them out even as a kid. Butler has a great coach. Though, they kept my team…K-State from making the Final Four a few years ago. πŸ™

      • Ian says:

        Dont forget about the Illini! They beat Butler, Gonzaga, and Indiana this year. But they did get beat up pretty bad by Indiana today.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    A few years ago, my brother actually planned his vasectomy around March Madness so that he could sit home and watch the games he wanted without being bothered =)

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Great ideas here, John. I’m not a huge basketball fan, but we used to do stuff like this at work all the time, and even if you’re not a fan of the given sport, the camraderie part of it alone made things like this super fun – and who doesn’t love a potluck? Employers would be smart to encourage this type of bonding between their employees. It simply creates a more productive workplace. People generally do a better job at work when their employer has created a work environment that is supportive and fun.

    • John says:

      Thanks Laurie! I could not agree more on the encouragement and productivity. It’s the smart firms that take advantage of it and make it fun for all around.

  • pauline says:

    I wasn’t aware of what March Madness was, but I do the March Money Madness on free money finance πŸ™‚

  • Jose says:

    Dare I admit it that I don’t follow sports? Especially since I live in the center of North Carolina?

    • Johnny Moneyseed says:

      Yeah I didn’t even watch the Super Bowl this year. I live right outside Baltimore, that’s the only reason I knew who won the damn thing haha.

    • John says:

      Oh, that’s ok Jose. I’ll give you a pass. Although, you must really not be a fan if you can live in North Carolina and not like basketball. πŸ™‚

    • Listen Money Matters says:

      Hah, you and me both Jose. I always got into similar but nerdier things like constantly staring at a glowing monitor and coding or also staring at a glowing monitor and playing video games πŸ˜‰

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    I absolutely participate in March Madness and my family has a very competitive league going on for about a decade now. Lots of trash talking πŸ˜‰ We also are having our housewarming the same weekend as the games (not on purpose but it’s awesome that it worked out that way) so we will be setting up tvs/monitors in three different rooms. I will of course be rooting for the Gophers!

  • Grayson @ Debt RoundUp says:

    Our office has quite a few large LCD televisions that we turn on and enjoy each and every tournament. It is fun, especially during lunch time. Where did you grow up John? I am in ACC country now in NC and it can be crazy around here, especially when the three big teams near me play one another.

    • John says:

      That’s awesome Grayson. My past employer did something like that.

      I grew up in Richmond VA. It was always fun watching the games while there because people would get so into it. I grew up when Jordan was at UNC, so it was easy to root for them.

  • AverageJoe says:

    When I was advising, I’d close the office on the opening Friday early and set up shop at a local sports bar. I’d supply appetizers and drinks (to a point….but nobody really ever abused it) to my clients and their friends. By the time I left the business, I had a huge group of clients who’d take the afternoon off just to come watch games with me. It was a great marketing event for me AND I got to watch the games at the same time. I really miss that….

    …and of course, the team to beat will be Michigan State. Go Sparty!

    • John says:

      That’s an ingenious idea Joe! I bet it was a great marketing event for you and shows your creative thinking. I would miss it too.

      Sorry, I’ll have to be pulling for the Cats!! Go State!

  • The Happy Homeowner says:

    That is an INSANE amount of money to be betting on anything, let alone sports! Holy guacamole!

    I have to admit that the only March Madness I like is the blogging stuff at Free Money Finance…bahahaha…well, that and the fact that my birthday is this month πŸ™‚

  • Mackenzie says:

    At my previous job, March Madness was a big deal!! I’m not really into it, though πŸ˜‰

    • John says:

      Yea, it is at a lot of places. My past employer hated it because so many people would try and watch it on their computers and would severely slow down the network.

  • Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce says:

    Great post! Always a tough call between your favorites and the realistic favorites… Thanks for this.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor says:

    The NCAA Tournament is my favorite sporting event. I love those first couple of days when, if you’re lucky, you can find a place with big screen TVs set up to show all games–sometimes four–simultaneously. Bliss!

    • John says:

      It is definitely a close second for me Kurt. I would have multiple TV’s on, though I fear it would drive my dear wife nuts.

  • Girl Meets Debt says:

    I’m Canadian so I don’t really get into the whole March Madness. I am however obsessed with Canucks hockey and I go crazy when they make the Stanley Cup playoffs. I always particpate in the office hockey pool and it’s great fun πŸ˜€

  • Alan says:

    Hi John,
    I too am a huge football fan but at the NFL level. I never have been a fan of basketball but there is something about march madness that gets me to watch the games. Besides the #1 seed over the #16, most games are very close and come down to the wire. Not to mention the upsets. Maybe it has something to do with the college players doing something the NBA players do not do, play defense.

    • John says:

      I am not as much of a basketball fan as I used to be, but still love the tournament. Lol, yea, they do not play much defense in the NBA.

  • Edward Antrobus says:

    Two things that I’ve never been able to get into: watching basketball and collegiate level sports.

    I do remember that my gym teacher for my Freshman and Junior years of high school was a big March Madness guy and had us all pick teams from the brackets out of a hat. Then he picked one for the entire class. -Both mens and women’s. If the team you picked won the championship, you got 5 points added to your grade for the marking period. Junior year, I jumped a full letter grade.

    • John says:

      I can understand that, though I think watching collegiate level sports is the more interesting of the two.

      I had similar things like that when I was in Jr high/High School. It was always nice to get a good bump for doing nothing really.

      • Edward Antrobus says:

        I can understand how people find collegiate sports more interesting, just as I enjoy watching a minor league game more than a major league game. Less polish, more mistakes. But I only ever went to one baseball game each year and didn’t really care about the names on the jerseys, so it worked. But for football, I do like following the players and there is just too much turnover. Those athletes keep graduating for some reason! πŸ˜€

  • Canadian Budget Binder says:

    I’m not into many sports unless it’s football (soccer) or rugby so my employer wouldn’t have to worry about me although I’d still tuck in if there was a potluck. πŸ™‚

  • Money Bulldog says:

    I absolutely love March Madness John! I watch as much as I can of it and it’s great because the some of the games seem to be on a bit earlier so works well for me being in the UK. Really enjoyed the tournament a couple of years back with Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker running the show. (hope my memorys correct there!)

    • John says:

      I would imagine that you could get some of the games earlier as they’re on at all times those first few rounds. Yep, your memories are correct. πŸ™‚

  • The First Million is the Hardest says:

    Filling out brackets for all the NCAA pools is always fun, even though I never win! The only thing that could make tournament time better is if I could watch the games while at work. Doubt my employer will be open to putting games on any of the TV’s in the common areas

    • John says:

      Yea, I think I have one once maybe…but it is still fun. You should ask, you never know. My old employer was pretty conservative yet they were still willing to.

  • Brian @ Luke1428 says:

    The first weekend of March Madness is the best four days on the yearly sports calendar. You just can’t top it. Usually my brackets are completely blown apart by that first Sunday. This year proves to be exciting as there are many really good teams (especially in the Big Ten) but no one has proved to be invincible. Looking forward to it again…and dare I say it…O-H-I-O…Go Bucks! πŸ™‚

    • John says:

      I agree, I think this year is going to be interesting. With how no one has been safe at the #1 spot, I think we may be in for a wild ride this year.

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar says:

    I suck at March Madness brackets because I always pick Kentucky. It’s like bad luck if I don’t. Last year, it was great, but I think I’m going to strike out this year.

    • John says:

      Lol! I do the same thing with my team on one of my brackets. You never know this year, it’s been a very crazy year in college basketball.

  • Kyle James | says:

    Love this post! My fav time of year! Glad I work from home so I can sneak in a lot of the Thursday/Friday games which are typically the best of the tourney! So excited

    • John says:

      Thanks Kyle! That’s my hope this year now that I work from home, though I don’t know how much work I’ll actually get done. πŸ˜‰

  • femmefrugality says:

    Such fun ideas…especially loving the pot luck! I miss those brackets at work…fun times.

  • Thad says:

    Great ideas for follow the NCAA tourney.

  • KK @ Student Debt Survivor says:

    I must live under a rock, but I had no idea March Madness caused such an issue for employers. This sounds sexist, but maybe it’s because I work for a non-profit and there are very few men. I know there are women who are huge basketball fans (my sister), but the folks I work with must not be.

    • John says:

      I don’t think it’s sexist at all KK, I think a lot of it is relative. I think the bigger issue is for big employers where they have a lot of people on computers and watching the games which slow down the network plus a lot of people tend to call in sick. My old employer would black out the first two weeks and would not allow anyone to take the time off.

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