Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Bracket Project

A short write-up about me and the site from Stephen Wiseman of The State in South Carolina.

It’s the time of year when brackets and bubbles are the hot topic of conversation among college basketball fans.

To have an informed opinion about which teams should make the NCAA tournament’s field of 65, fans can point and click their way around the Internet all day looking at projected brackets.

But there’s a way to postpone carpel tunnel syndrome and save yourself some time.

Three years ago, an unemployed Brian Phan turned his keen eye toward the plethora of brackets available. He started The Bracket Project to produce a place where all available brackets could be viewed at

“This was a nice time-killer while looking for jobs,” Phan said via e-mail this week.

Since the site went live in January 2005, it has grown into a must-click site for any college basketball fan.

Phan, 25 and working as a business analyst in California’s defense industry, saw the site draw its 500,000th hit on Feb. 27. It averages around 6,000 hits a day and climbing. It drew 11,000 hits last Monday and that figure will grow as Selection Sunday draws closer.

Simplicity and ease of use is what draws so many users.’s front page has links to the 52 brackets Phan analyzes. They range from ESPN, Fox, and, to independent analysts like Jerry Palm ( and Warren Nolan (

He also differentiates between sites that act as if selection Sunday were that day, and the ones that project results to formulate their bracket.

Below that is the bracket matrix, which allows fans to get a quick view of where their teams stand.

The matrix shows the date when the various brackets were updated and shows where each team is seeded in that bracket.

The team’s name is listed, along with its conference, the average seed and the number of brackets that include that team.

Fans worried about where their particular team stands can look at how many brackets include them to ease or add to their worries.

Phan started the site when he attempted to project the brackets himself. But he said he quickly realized it needed a hook to attract attention. That’s when the bracket matrix was born.

By the time North Carolina was beating Illinois in the national championship game at St. Louis in April 2005, Phan had found a job and planned to put his bracketologist days in his past.

His growing legion of fans had other ideas.

“The next season,” Phan said, “I started getting e-mails asking when the site would start up again. I didn’t have plans to but the demand was there, so I did it again.”

As the site’s traffic has grown, Phan has sold some advertising. But he hasn’t quit his day job and doesn’t expect to.

“I didn’t do this for the money,” he said.

Phan doesn’t envision big changes to the site. He may switch to a different server. But the site’s main job is to be a one-stop for bracket information and that won’t change.

“The core of the site will remain,” Phan said, “since I’m sure that’s what the people want.”

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