Math for March Madness


March 10, 2024
image of basketball

Here are some fun and engaging ways to incorporate March Madness into your math instruction.

Class Tournament

I have seen two ways to do this. In one, students compete individually against a new partner every day or two and advance through the brackets to determine a single winner (here is an example of a bracket chart for multiplication). If you do this, one teacher had a great idea for students out of the tournament to use the Biggest Loser’s idea of the at home challenge as an at school challenge. She said, “I’m trying to teach them to lose gracefully, still work toward a goal, and still cheer on classmates.” Although her tournament was for AR points, it would still work for math. (Thanks to The Bolden Rule for this fabulous idea!) 

In the other variation the teacher divides the class into four-five teams that work together. Here is a wonderful example of a team version for multiplication with complete instructions. I love this one because it has children working together and allows for differentiation between kids with quick recall and kids who are still counting on their fingers. I also like that this activity is a long term (six week) challenge with training time.

Games and Center Activities

For Preschoolers:

Basketball Shots Counting Mats

For lower elementary:

Score With Skittles Counting to 100 free printable game

Free basketball math centers for 1st/2nd grade- Fact Family Sort, number sentence sort, and Roll, Add 10 and Cover, all with recording sheets

For upper elementary:

March Madness Trashketball. In this free game from TPT, 4th-6th graders practice fraction/decimal conversions and record their trashketball statistics.

Read the Room March Mathness game for 3rd-5th graders (free from TPT) has students use statistic clue cards to help them answer a variety of questions, tying reading, writing, and math skills together!

For multiage:

Free March Madness printable game board to use with your own task cards

Basketball themed free Roll and Solve games for addition/multiplication practice (2nd-5th grade)

STEM Projects

Basketball Tower for grades 3-5

Building a Basketball Hoop

Themed Word Problems

Free March Mathness Word Problems for grades 3-5 cover some of the best performers and performances over the 75-year history of March Madness. 

Math Madness free 3rd quarter 4th grade review

“March Mathness” challenge questions from Ascend Math-

  • NBA games have 4 12-minute quarters.  College games have 2 20-minute halves.  Which games are longer, NBA or College, and by how much?
  • If there are 64 teams in the tournament and half are eliminated each round, how many rounds does it take to determine a champion?
  • A basketball court measures 94 feet by 50 feet. What is the perimeter of the court? What is the area?
  • College players use a basketball that is 9.4 inches in diameter. The hoop is 18 inches in diameter. If a ball passes exactly through the center of the net, how much space will there be between the edge of the ball and the hoop?
  • Find mean, median, and mode for points scored per game in the Sweet Sixteen

Math Projects

Typically I include only free activities on my posts, but the quality options for this topic are more limited, and I think these are worth considering.

March Madness Fantasy Style from TPT.  Cost for this one is $14.65 and includes a yearly update. It also has differentiation options for grades 2-8. Students are given a budget of $1,000,000 to buy 5 teams. Each team has a specific price based on how well they are expected to play. Once they pick their 5 teams, their main activity will be tracking them through the tournament and calculating points each team earns in every game based on certain stat categories. Skills practiced include problem solving, reasoning and strategic thinking, multiplication, addition and subtraction, and different forms of numbers.

March Madness Basketball Tournament math project from TPT Current cost is $5 and the project is Common Core aligned for 5th/6th grade. It is also updated yearly to reflect the most up-to-date websites, brackets, and information. Skills include fractions, decimals, percents, mean, median, mode, range, data, probability, rates, statistics, data tables, line plots, and writing algebraic expressions!

Online Games

Math Basketball (facts in all operations) on Fun Brain

Math Facts Basketball on Abcya

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