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March Mammal Madness

The official location for March Mammal Madness tournament information and resources! If you're learning, you're winning!

Welcome to March Mammal Madness!

Welcome to March Mammal Madness! This library guide is your official location for MMM tournament info and resources to help you fill out your bracket.

A Quick Guide to Understanding MMM:

Since 2013, March Mammal Madness asks the question “Who Would Win?” when two animals encounter each other in an absurdly complex and wonderfully nerdy way… a simulated tournament within a structured game universe!!!

RULES of the MMM Game Universe

  • Combatants are arranged in a four division, single elimination tournament.
  • Combatants have assigned seeds 1-16, with “1” being the best ranked combatant and “16” being the worst ranked combatant in the Division.
  • Unless otherwise stated on the bracket, a single combatant at peak performance condition represents the species.
  • To be defeated, a combatant perishes on or retreats from the “field of battle.”
  • Field of Battle in the first three rounds is determined by the combatant’s seed. The better/lower seeded combatant has HOME HABITAT ADVANTAGE and the worse/higher seeded combatant is the visitor.
  • Field of Battle in the last three rounds- the Elite Trait, the Final Roar, and the CHAMPIONSHIP, the battle location is randomized among 4 possible habitats. The 2024 random habitats will be announced Feb 22!


  • A teaMMM of scientists research the combatants and their habitats and estimate probability that combatant A wins vs. combatant B wins within the specific habitat.
  • Attributes considered in estimating battle outcome include temperament, weaponry, armor, body mass, speed, fight style, physiology, and motivation.
  • From that probability estimation, a random number generator determines the outcome of the encounter and which combatant advances in the tournament. This allows for the possibility, if not the probability, of UPSETS (a worse ranked combatant defeating a better ranked combatant).


  • The outcomes of the encounters between combatants are revealed in the form of a PLAY-by-PLAY as though being observed in real time by the scientist announcer reminiscent of a radio sports announcer.
  • The scientist uses published research about the species and their environment to create an evidence-based play-by-play, turning science into a story. Dramatic reveals, plot twists, and unexpected events may be used to explain the outcome of the combatant encounters.

March Mammal Madness

The 2024MMM Tournament Begins!

Educators, please follow this link to the request form for educator materials, if you haven't already, and an optional educator survey!

  1. Get your bracket! Are you a Player or a Learner? (Educators, we have you covered too!)
  2. Pick your winners by the evening of March 11, 2024 for the Wild Card!
  3. Learn the Outcomes here at the LibGuide for play-by-plays, summaries, and videos
  4. March Mammal Madness Facebook Page

Getting Started Resources

Scoring the Tournament


Participants fill out their brackets with their choices for the winners for each bout. Scoring occurs at the end of the tournament, points allocated as follows:

  • Wild Card = 1 point
  • Round 1 = 1 point each
  • Round 2 = 2 points each
  • Round 3 = 3 points each
  • Round 4 = 5 points each
  • Round 5 = 8 points each
  • Champion= 13 points

NERD ALERT: This sequence of numbers may seem familiar! The scoring system used by MMM is the Fibonacci sequence related to the Golden Ratio... and found so often in Nature!


How do I play?

We can only suggest the following for maximal fun and learning. Print out the bracket, predict who will win in each of the match-ups in round one, then round two, and so on and so forth, all the way out to your prediction who wins the championship! Get your friends, colleagues, and/or family to play. Post brackets on wall prominently. Trash talk their selections different from yours. Follow along in real time with battle play by plays on Twitter by following hashtag #2024MMM or @MMMletsgo on scheduled bout nights. If Twitter isn't your thing, especially lately, check this library guide for updates a couple hours AFTER the bouts conclude for the night (or the next morning).

Is the battle always to the death?

The battles are NOT always “nature, red in tooth and claw.” Sometimes the winner "wins" by displacing the other at a feeding location, sometimes a powerful animal doesn't attack because it is not motivated to- in 2014 for the “Who in the What Now?” Division, dhole lost to a binturong because the night before dhole had gorged on babirusa and the gut passage time of wild canids is 24-48 hours. This meant that the dhole was still full from the night before and unwilling to take the risks of tangling with the binturong. Even a small claw cut or bite wound can get infected and lots of times an animal will back down rather than take a risk for little potential benefit.

Are the battles one on one, or do social animals get their buddies?

Typically, battles are one on one. However, in 2017 there was a team: the Neanderthal Hunting Party, which was a small group of hunters working together with Neanderthal technology. In general, assume that the combatants represent the most prime-aged, healthy and strong specimen of that species. Also, just as in nature, there can occasionally be scientifically-grounded outside interference.

Should I always pick the better ranked mammal?

Not necessarily! Real fans don’t abandon their favorite animals just because they are pathetic at this kind of battle (although hopefully well-suited to their particular environmental niche). People will clown you if your bracket is TOO conservative by always picking the better-ranked combatant. Also the rankings are not infallible and there are upsets in nature too. Upsets are what make March Mammal Madness exciting.

Wait, this is called March Mammal Madness… what are all these other species from across the Tree of Life doing in the tournament?!

Although originally the tournament only featured mammals, for many years many animals and sometimes plants, fungi, lichen, and bacteria are invited to the big show. Most importantly, all species are awesome, so we’ve expanded the combatant line-up and but kept the name for tradition.

What a second… isn’t there another March Madness?

MMM is indeed inspired by, but in no way affiliated with or representing, the NCAA College Basketball March Madness Championship Tournament. But we’re pretty sure the term March madness, at least in part, comes from the long-time English idiom about fast-paced and sometimes unpredictable animal battles.

I want to learn more about March Mammal Madness, how it is used by educators, the origin of the tournament, and what is up with all these jokes about stoats as measurement, plant carnage, cat scandal, figs, & incidental orcas?!

Have we got you covered in our MMM Scholarship & Data section!

I love otters! Can I call them my "spirit animal" without perpetuating racism and settler colonialism?

Most probably not. If you have a deep affinity for an animal, but your identity means you are culturally appropriating when you use the term, there are many options. We suggest: "inner animal", "anima", "emblem", or "animal quiddity/quidditas." #WordNerds. And please be thoughtful about those reaction gifs too.

March Mammal Madness Scholarship and Data

Celebrating MMM

Our friends at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science are excited for 2024 MMM!

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.