Applications on Facebook Feed The March Madness College Basketball Frenzy

You’ve probably already been solicited at the office to fill out a March Madness bracket now that the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is upon us, and the scene is no different on Facebook. NCAA Tourney bracket apps are all over the place, giving you a chance to challenge friends for the best picks, watch the games live, or take your shot at winning up to $10,000,000.

Last Year’s Defending Champ

The number one bracket application from last year got off to a great start again this March. Watercooler’s 2010 Bracket Challenge is close to 300,000 users about 24 hours before tip-off of the first game (not counting the play-in). The app allows you to invite friends to your own pool or search for existing pools, some of which already number in the thousands.

Pools can be set up as open or invite-only, and there are places to post comments (talk trash), track your brackets, and more. Watercooler is also sponsoring a contest for each level of pool (10-25 members, 26-50 mebmers, 50 or more members) with a prize being awarded to the top bracket from each level.

The Player With The Most Game has its own bracket app, and the network has the added advantage of owning the licensing for the live feeds of every game, which they’ll be streaming through a dedicated Facebook page. Once you’ve signed on to set up your March Madness bracket or brackets, you’ll have the option of fanning the NCAA March Madness On Demand page, which is where you’ll be able to watch every tourney game live, as well as have the ability to talk a little trash with friends, other team supporters or rival fans.

The network is also offering $10,000 to the top points-getter, and just filling out a bracket enters you into the contest. While the bracket interface is not as smooth or refined as the Watercooler app, the facts that it’s associated with being able to view the actual games and that anyone can win the $10K have helped the application reach close to 250,000 fans, with a growth curve that’s as steep as Watercooler’s app.

The Biggest So Far This Year

The prospect of winning $5K, and an easy-to-navigate interface, are among the incentives that has made the Bracket Challenge by Citizens Sports app the most popular so far for this year’s tournament, with about 620,000 active users. There’s no need to round up a group of friends or join one of the thousands of existing pools to get a shot at some dough, with every bracket eligible for the $5,000 prize for the best picks. In addition, users can participate in the Bracket Challenge on the go by downloading a free iPhone app that allows them to see their brackets, track scores and more.

The application has a few added extras, such as sponsorship by Miller Lite, which runs a banner ad on the dashboard inviting users to fan the Miller Lite Facebook page. There’s also a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit bracket, which invited fans to vote on the best swimsuit picture, as well as offering galleries of famous pictures from over the years. Fans can also participate in or contribute to team and tourney trivia questions, and there are live updates of all games throughout the tournament.