Three UK Students Compete in March Madness Battle of the Brains on ESPN


LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 22, 2017) — Wildcat fans around the country have been rooting for the men's basketball team in the NCAA tournament. While the Wildcats are battling on the court, three University of Kentucky students are in Chicago this week to pit their brains against students from other Sweet 16 schools.

UK students Ryan Morales, Christina Zhang and Evelyn Mechas will appear on a new ESPN quiz show — "Bracket Genius." Hosted by Trey Wingo of ESPN's "SportsCenter," "Bracket Genius" aims to spotlight the academic genius of students at schools participating in March Madness. The show matches Sweet 16 schools against one another in a bracket-style competition for the chance to have their team crowned the inaugural Bracket Genius Champion and share the prize of $100,000.

Biosystems engineering seniors Morales and Zhang and Mechas, a biology senior, were chosen after winning a trivia contest and then auditioning via Skype. The producers used the audition to select students who projected personality as well as intelligence.

The final 16 universities represented in the NCAA tournament will match up in the same head-to-head games on "Bracket Genius," where the winning team advances by answering questions spanning history, geography, politics, literature, science, pop culture, the arts and sports in a race to score as many points as possible against the clock and their opponent.

The opening round matchups will air tonight, at 5 and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, and Sunday, March 26. Each half-hour episode will feature four teams vying for the chance to advance to the "Bracket Genius" championship episode.

Bonus round episodes will air 6 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 27. These half-hour episodes, "Bracket Genius: Extra Credit," will give the four championship contenders a chance to win extra cash prizes of up to $25,000 per episode.

The remaining four teams will face off in the "Bracket Genius" championship episode scheduled to air 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 4. The one-hour finale will feature two semifinal matchups, with winners advancing to the final head-to-head battle to determine the "Bracket Genius" champion and $100,000 winning team.