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LibGuides + March Mammal Madness

As the last remaining hours of February pass by, the days begin to grow longer, and the air slowly gets warmer, it can only mean one thing... March Mammal Madness is almost here! If you've somehow missed out on this viral LibGuides sensation over the past 12 years, we're here to fill you in and give you all the details about Arizona State University's March Mammal Madness tournament.

March Mammal Madness isn't your typical tournament. It's not about basketball or any other human sport; rather, it's a captivating blend of science, education, and a touch of competitive spirit. For those unfamiliar, March Mammal Madness is an annual online event hosted by ASU that pits different species of mammals against each other in simulated combat, all based on scientific research and real-life behavioral traits. But it's not just about who would win in a fight — it's also an opportunity to learn about the incredible diversity of mammals and the fascinating adaptations they've evolved.

Unleash Your Inner Mammal

Are you a seasoned veteran or are you excited about your first foray into MMM? Either way, you're in luck! The 2024 bracket has officially been released as of yesterday, February 22, so you can get started right away. The How to Play section of the MMM LibGuide provides all the info you could ever possibly need to get yourself in prime position for the games. But how does it work?

Each year, ASU releases a bracket featuring matchups between different mammal species. These matchups are not arbitrary; they are carefully curated to be as scientifically accurate as possible. Factors such as size, strength, speed, and behavior are taken into account to determine the likely outcome of each hypothetical encounter. But don't let this dissuade you from rooting for the Tufted Ground Squirrel over the Great White Shark — you never know what environmental factors may come into play to contribute to an underdog win!

But MMM is not just about predicting winners. Alongside the matchups, organizers provide detailed scientific information about each species, including their habitat, diet, social structure, and unique adaptations. Participants are encouraged to research the animals, learning about their biology and ecology in the process.

March Mammal Madness: A History

Dr. Katie Hinde, an Associate Professor at ASU, founded March Mammal Madness in 2013 — with the name being a play on the NCAA March Madness Basketball tournament.

Anali Perry, the Scholarly Communication Librarian at ASU, recalled that before using LibGuides, this tournament was all managed in Dr. Hinde’s blog. In 2017, as the tournament grew year over year, not just in popularity but in moving parts, Anali suggested they build a special guide for the tournament information in their LibGuides CMS system. Anali said it wasn’t easy for people to find the information they needed on the blog so they built a LibGuide that wasn’t aimed just toward the ASU community, but was for participants all over the world.

The original bracket from the first ever March Mammal Madness in 2013.
The original bracket from the first ever March Mammal Madness in 2013.

The LibGuide offers everything from an FAQ to the downloadable bracket. It features animal research information with free and open resources, resources for K-12, and academic information resources.  There are videos, mammal art, links to recaps, and news. You can even check out the MMM Archives to learn about the history of the tournament and each year's winners.

March Mammal Madness has exploded in popularity since the inception of the LibGuide, and now includes contributors from well-beyond just ASU. With scientist-narrators from institutions like Mount Rainier National Park and Museum für Naturkunde in Germany, to genetics experts from University of Massachusetts Boston and University of Lausanne in Switzerland, this truly is a global operation.

Get Ready, Get Set, Get Researching!

As March approaches, anticipation builds for another thrilling season of March Mammal Madness. Whether you're a returning champion or a newcomer to the competition, there's something for everyone to enjoy. So grab your brackets, sharpen your research skills, and get ready for a wild ride through the fascinating world of mammals. March Mammal Madness awaits!

Once you've got your predictions ready for who will win in each matchup, follow along in real time with battle play-by-plays on X (Twitter) by following #2024MMM or @MMMletsgo on scheduled bout nights. If social media isn't your thing, check the March Mammal Madness LibGuide for updates after the bouts conclude for the night.

This year's tournament starts on March 10, 2024. Check out the tournament schedule for more info!

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