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Missing March Madness and bracket competitions? Check out our bracket challenge

Missing March Madness and bracket competitions? Check out our bracket challenge

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Hey Omaha, get ready for Kansas and Kentucky. Pack your bags for St. Louis, Creighton fans.

The NCAA announced Sunday that its selection committee would NOT be releasing a men’s basketball bracket for your entertainment. So we decided to do it ourselves.

Behold the 2020 World-Herald NCAA Tournament.

Is it real? Not quite. But it could be. We followed all the bracket rules. We seeded teams according to best projections. We only slightly catered our selections in favor of Omaha and Creighton. This absolutely could’ve been the bracket released on Selection Sunday.

In the absence of real basketball this week, let’s go with it. We’re playing out this exact 64-team bracket in The World-Herald. And we’re asking for your help.

With each Round 1 matchup, we’ll ask fans on Twitter and an expert panel to pick who they think will win each game. Those experts include Bruce Chubick, Curtis Marshall, Josh Jones and Tim Miles, just to name a few.

But the team that gets more support will not necessarily be the one that moves on. Part of what makes March Madness so fun is the upsets. We will have those, too.

Here’s how it works.

The results of the fan and expert voting — each accounting for 50% of the voting — will be used to determine a percentage that each school has to win a matchup.

Take, for example, the first-round game between LSU and Rutgers. Perhaps the voting gives LSU a 60% chance to win, with Rutgers at 40%.

We then put 100 tickets in a hat, 60 for LSU and 40 for Rutgers, and draw one. That’s the winner. If it’s Rutgers, it pulls the upset and moves on. LSU is done.

(BTW, we won’t actually use a hat, but a computer number generator that will assign the percentage values and pick the winner.)

Once all the first-round games are played out, we will publish the winners and begin voting for Round 2, repeating the process all the way to the championship.

So start voting now on the 32 first-round matchups at Voting will continue until 6 p.m. Wednesday night, with the matchup percentages revealed Thursday morning and the first-round winners unveiled Friday.

This is going to be a hard week without March Madness. We can’t bring buzzer-beaters and Cinderella stories. We can’t distract you from work on Thursday and Friday. But maybe, in a sports world turned upside down, we can provide a sliver of normalcy.