March Madness 2.0: It’s Tournament Time

basketballThere’s something in the air. Something that smells like madness. March Madness.

Today marks the official kick-off of the NCAA Tournament, that beautiful time of year when players and fans from across the nation unite to talk trash and watch college hoops.

And while I know a colleague has already beaten me to the punch, the March Madness fever that grips the nation, and is now gripping the search land, doesn’t stop with Facebook. In fact, it doesn’t stop with the brackets or pools in general.

According to a recent press release by ScanSafe, bandwidth usage on company servers during the late March weeks in 2008 increased by 10,000% as employees kept track of their favorite teams, checked highlights and scores, and watched streaming video on popular sports websites. (Now, while I can understand this, I can’t exactly condone it.*)

That’s where Mobile 2.0 steps in – to prevent screaming bosses and decreased productivity during work hours. For iPhone users, there are a number of apps that can help you keep track of scores, highlights, rankings and more.

PocketBracket and the CBS Sports NCAA March Madness On-Demand are just a couple. PocketBracket lets you create your own bracket while getting stats and up-to-the-minute game scores, and compares your picks to everyone in the PocketBracket network. And the CBS Sports On-Demand doesn’t just stream live TV, but also the latest scores, brackets and stats.

If you work in an office, or anywhere really, you’ve probably been hearing the same conversations begin to crop up: “Who ya got in the first round?” “What’s your bracket look like?” “Who’d you send to the Final Four?”

And so it goes.

While that’s great water-cooler (or in our case, coffee bar) talk, there’s better ways of connecting your picks with others and sharing your Madness genius with friends.

Along with the CBS March Madness Facebook App, MySpace has rolled out their own Bracket Challenge. MySpace Bracket Challenge allows users to get player insight from pros such as Chris Paul and Steve Nash, as well as see instant rankings and share brackets with friends.

If you’re one of those people (and I know a couple) that would rather hear about your root canal than your Elite 8 picks, well, you’re the minority. According to Google Trends for the 19th, ‘march madness on demand’ is atop the pile. Among the top ten are ‘watch ncaa basketball online’, ‘watch march madness online’ and ‘ncaa schedule’.

So while you’re grumbling about your co-worker gloating over his perfect bracket, just remember that even President Obama took some time to lay out his bracket (even though his Final Four are way off).

*I had to say that. The Man was looking over my shoulder…

P.S.: MSU, Pitt, Memphis, UNC