NephMadness for Dummies

Before we get to the details, we want to provide the links:
Make your picks at the bracket picking site   or   The educational content at AJKD Blog

Every March, the nephrology social media scene is dominated by NephMadness, an homage to the annual US college basketball tournament, fondly known as March Madness. March Madness is the climax of the college basketball season where ridiculously talented young players show off their skills while trying to catch the eye of NBA teams. TV coverage is dominated by college basketball and workplace chat revolves around filling out your bracket (see below). Since 2013, the AJKD blog crew has used this time of year as a springboard to capture the attention of the medical community through a novel educational game. The idea of a multiplayer educational game that plays out across Twitter, Facebook, and multiple blogs is unprecedented. For non-Americans and people less sports inclined, the whole idea can seem one part childish and two parts ridiculous, with a dash of preposterous, but don’t be put off by the basketball and revel in the casual style of the evidence based, fully referenced, non-commercial, educational content that forms the backbone of NephMadness.

How does it work?

Similar to the US College basketball tournament, there are 8 regions, but in NephMadness these regions are nephrology themes. Explore the entire field of 32 concepts which are divided into 8 regions. Each region is a bespoke collection of the finest topics curated by world-renowned experts:

  1. Hypertension Region: Raymond Townsend, MD
  2. Palliative Care and Nephrology Region: Christian T. Sinclair, MD, FAAHPM
  3. International Nephrology Region: Professor Vivekanand Jha, MD, DM, FRCP
  4. Missteps in Nephrology Region: Mark Rosenberg, MD
  5. Transplant Nephrology Science Region: Milagros (Millie) Samaniego, MD
  6. Recreational Drugs and the Kidney Region: Mark A. Perazella, MD, FACP
  7. Pediatric Nephrology Region: John D. Mahan, MD
  8. Statistics in Nephrology Region: Perry Wilson, MD MSCE

Within these regions, individual nephrology concepts play against each other. Winners are determined by a panel of eminent nephrologists which we call the Blue Ribbon Panel:

  • Dan Weiner, Deputy Editor, American Journal of Kidney Diseases
  • Scott Gilbert, Education Editor, American Journal of Kidney Diseases
  • Nancy Adams, Chair, American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Training Program Directors Executive Committee
  • Jeffrey Berns, Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Nephrology; oh yes, and President of the National Kidney Foundation
  • David S. Goldfarb, Chief of Nephrology at the New York Harbor VA Medical Center and the Clinical Chief of Nephrology at the New York University Langone Medical Center
  • Melanie Hoenig, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
  • Roger Rodby, Fellowship Program Director, Rush University Medical Center; ASN Board Review Instructor

The Blue Ribbon Panel will determine the winners of each matchup by the March 23, 2016 (11:59pm EDT) deadline for entering the contest.

You might ask, how can I decide a winner between cocaine nephropathy and ecstasy induced electrolyte abnormalities? Don’t get too caught up in the impossibility and just read up on both teams and make a call. The aim of the game is to learn. If you disagree with “winners” please tweet (#NephMadness) or blog about it. This is social media, outrage is our oxygen. We want to engage the community and learn ourselves.

What is “filling out your bracket”?

In March, millions of Americans try to predict the winner of all 63 matches that make up the tournament (2^63 possibilities). The process of predicting the winners among the 32 first round matches, 16 second round, 8 third round etc…, is called filling out your bracket. In March Madness friendly and monetary bets are rampant. In some large pools, a few dollars wagered can pay out huge prizes to the winners.

In NephMadness, players fill out an online bracket and predict the winners for all 31 matches in the tournament (our field in 2016 is 32 teams). The regions and teams will be announced on Thursday, March 10th. Players need to register and fill out their brackets before the winners of the first round are announced on March 23 (by 11:59pm EDT). Further winners will be announced round by round until their is only one and the champion is crowned on April 6th.

Are there prizes?

Oh yes, details and rules are available at the bracket picking site. AJKD Blog is awarding prizes for best medical student, resident, fellow, and attending as well as best tweeter and blogger (please see the contest rules).

Why do it?

We all love our specialty. We want to make nephrology fun. We want to create innovative ways to learn and teach. We want to advertise what’s great about nephrology to our future and current colleagues. See last year’s AJKD editorial for more about the feelings of the NephMadness team.

What’s with all the silly phrases used?

We also know our American friends have an interesting take on the English language (why do they insist on spelling Aluminium incorrectly?), but some of this basketball speak is just gibberish right? For example, the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four refer to the last 16, 8, and 4 teams remaining in the knockout tournament. Here’s what else I worked out when I got immersed in US college basketball:

The Big Dance: Another colloquialism for March Madness, “the tourney”.

Diaper dandy:  a term coined by legendary commentator (and Duke lover!) Dick Vitale to refer to a sensational freshman, a very talented first year player (think Next Generation Sequencing in 2015). Note that Matt, the shameless publicist, tweeted Dickie V two years ago to get some NephMadness publicity. I don’t believe he got retweeted!

The bubble: Teams that have played well, but not well enough to be sure of garnering a tournament invitation are bubble teams. In 2014, Balanced solutions were on the bubble, earned a Big Dance invitation and pipped Normal Saline in the first round!

Cinderella teams: Underdogs, capable of upsets which will always occur in NephMadness (think Belatacept beating Rituximab in 2014).

Selection Sunday: The day the teams, brackets (match-ups) are announced. Just to be difficult, for NephMadness, Selection Sunday is a Thursday (March 10th)! We will see you there.

Seed: In the real tournament each team is ranked in their region from from 1 to 16. With #1 going to the best team in the region and 16 to the worst. The tournament is structured with Number 1 playing 16, number 2 playing 15, number 3 playing 14, etc… So that the most compelling matches happen later in the tournament. We do not seed the teams in NephMadness, but some of the descriptions of the teams will refer to a number one seed.

Scouting Report: Each nephrology concept (or team) has a blog post of around 800-1200 words describing its strengths and weaknesses. Use this information to gain an edge and put the odds ever in your favor.

The NephMadness Team

  • Joel Topf
  • Matt Sparks
  • Edgar Lerma
  • Paul Phelan
  • Warren Kupin
  • Kenar Jhaveri
  • Swapnil Hiremath
  • Nikhil Shah

NephMadness 2016

Submit your picks! | For more on NephMadness 2016 | #NephMadness on Twitter

Updated on 1:30pm EST on March 10, 2016, to add NephMadness 2016 information, including regions, blue ribbon panel, and NephMadness Team, as well as other updates.

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