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Excel: The Indispensable NCAA Bracket Tool

Mar 14th 2014
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It’s almost Selection Sunday, when it seems that everyone in the country, including President Obama, makes their picks for the Final Four. There’s no need to search the Internet for a bracket template – you’re just a few mouse clicks away from one in Microsoft Excel. Many users overlook the wide variety of templates that are readily available in Excel. Poke around a bit, and you’ll find a dizzying array of business templates, along with a cricket scorecard, football pool squares, and much more.

The NCAA bracket templates are available in any version of Excel. From the File menu (or main menu in Excel 2007) choose New, and then type NCAA in the field that says Search for Templates, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: A free NCAA Final Four bracket template resides within Microsoft Excel.

The competition starts early, as you’ll find one or two different versions of the template depending upon your Excel version. I think the first one is easier on the eyes, but simply double-click on the template of your choice. Once the template opens in Excel, you’ll need to do some minor maintenance so that you can access the [Dates] fields:

  • Excel 2007 and later: Click Unprotect Spreadsheet on the Review tab.
  • Excel 2003 and earlier: Choose Tools, Protection, and then Unprotect sheet.

Figure 2: You must unlock the worksheet before you can type dates in the bracket spreadsheet.

The second worksheet within the template provides a tracker from which you can manage up to five sets of picks. If this isn’t enough for your needs, simply unprotect the Tracker worksheet, and then copy and paste additional pick/result columns as needed.

Figure 3: Microsoft’s free NCAA template makes it easy to track your picks.

Users that follow March Madness often consider their choices to be proprietary. If you need to hide your spreadsheet in a hurry, you could press Ctrl-Tab to toggle to the next open workbook. Of course, if you only have one spreadsheet open, your bracket will remain on-screen. Fortunately there are a couple of ways that you can temporarily hide this, or any other sensitive spreadsheet:

  • Excel 2007 and later: Choose View, and then Hide.
  • Excel 2003 and earlier: Choose Window, and then Hide.

It can be tough to execute these commands quickly if someone approaches your desk unexpectedly, so you may wish to create a keyboard shortcut instead:

  • Create a macro: Turn on Excel’s Macro Recorder, carry out the Hide steps for your version of Excel, and then stop recording. During the process you’ll see a spot where you can assign a keyboard shortcut.
  • Use the Quick Access Toolbar: In Excel 2007 and later, right-click on the Hide command on the View tab, and then choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar. Not only does this give you an icon you can click, it also creates a keyboard shortcut that will be revealed when you press the Alt key.

When you’re ready to unhide your workbook, choose View (or Window in Excel 2003), Unhide, and then double-click on the file name, such as NCAA Bracket.xlsx.

About the author:
David H. Ringstrom, CPA, heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, teaches webcasts for CPE Link, and writes freelance articles on Excel for AccountingWEB, Going Concern,