March Mammal Madness Perseveres


Gorilla #1) WON!!!

Analiese Haag, Reporter

Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus there were many closures of schools, restaurants, malls, and to many people’s dismay NCAA’s March Madness. But, one activity can not be stopped by quarantine, March Mammal Madness (MMM). MMM is an annual tournament of ‘simulated’ competition among mammals. For March Mammal Madness, people create brackets with animals facing off and hope that their bracket is accurate. Many classes at Morris Knolls have participated in this fun game, and since it is virtual it has not been affected by COVID-19. The epic final battle occurred on April 1, but the relevance of MMM lives on, as people can continue to learn about the animals, reflect on their brackets, and get ready for next year’s tournament.

March Mammal Madness was created in 2013 by Dr. Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University, and it originated on her blog called Mammals Suck… Milk. It was inspired by the NCAA’s basketball tournament and it is meant to educate people about inter-species interactions, the importance of ecological context, how natural selection has shaped adaptations, and conservation management of endangered species.

  Scientists work together to figure out the odds of one participant outlasting another. Some considerations in these calculations are temperament, weaponry, armor, body mass, running speed, fight style, physiology, and motivation. As a participant, one will know the seed in which the scientist gave each animal, the one with the higher seed (number one being the highest) has the greatest probability of winning. Location can also play a huge role in who will win. For the first three rounds, the place chosen is the habitat of the higher seed animal. For the rest, the arena is chosen randomly and will not be announced until after the battle. Another factor is injuries in previous battles since they carry over. When it is time for the animals to battle, a random number generator chooses a number 1-100, with certain numbers designated to one animal and the rest of the numbers designated to the other participant. This makes the tournament unpredictable, adding to the thrill of participating in it.

The winners of the battles are released throughout March, according to the schedule. One can figure out the winners at 8:00 pm MST that night on either twitter @2020MMMletsgo, the blog Mammals Suck… Milk, the March Mammal Madness Facebook Page, or the Arizona State University’s website (Results). These recap all of the battles, where they were, and how they went down (which are accurate ways the opponent could have won). An animal can win by killing its opponent, by the other animal running away, or by the opposing animal dying due to an outside force. Another way to find out about the battles is by watching the Rodent Roundtable Recap on that is usually posted within 24 hours of the battle (Rodent Roundtable). The rodent roundtable is a video of a puppet who acts as a host and pictures that help one visualize the battle.

Every year the brackets are separated into four groups of sixteen and one wild card match which the winner acts as a seed sixteen and virus the first seed in it’s designated group. In total there are sixty-five animals. To fill out a bracket simply predict who will win each battle, and use those predicted winners to determine who will verse each other for the following round. The points are tallied at the end based on the accuracy of one’s guesses. In total, one can receive one hundred thirty-eight points, but the odds of doing so are one in nine point two quintillions. These can be dramatically increased by learning about the contenders.
2020 Bracket

The descriptions of the battles were very realistic, ensuring further education for all participants in March Mammal Madness. With great underdogs, like the Gopher Tortoise, the tournament was extremely thrilling. Overall, the tournament was a silver lining for many people during this harsh time, and is sure to be just as brilliant next year!

Works Cited

Chen, Angela. “March Mammal Madness Is the Bracket for Animal Lovers Everywhere.” The Verge, The Verge, 4 Mar. 2019,

“March Mammal Madness: How to Play.” LibGuides,

Wilco, Daniel. “The Absurd Odds of a Perfect NCAA Bracket.”,, 26 Mar. 2020,