Whether you are a college basketball fanatic or not, chances are you will take a stab at filling out a bracket. Once the field of 68 is announced for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, it’s time to go to work.
You only have three days after Selection Sunday to analyze the matchups and figure out who will win it all. Most will either submit your bracket into an office pool or one of the several free online contests.
As I’m sure most of you are aware. The ultimate goal is to get as many games right as possible. Big prizes are given out online to the person with the best bracket at the end of the tournament. Several even offer some a serious cash reward for anyone who can pick a perfect bracket.
In 2014, Warren Buffett offered a $1 Billion prize for anyone who picked the entire field correctly. Some contests are offering upwards of $1 million for a perfect bracket this year.
Why would anyone offer up that kind of money? Keep in mind that many of these contests are free to enter. It’s because they are confident it won’t happen.
What are Odds of Picking a Perfect Bracket in NCAA Tournament?
I’m sure many of you believe you have what it takes to not miss a single game during March Madness. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but your chances are slim to none.
The NCAA Tournament technically consists of 65 games. However, most contests and pools don’t require you to pick the play-in games.
A 64-team single elimination tournament requires 63 games to crown a champion. That means all you have to do is go 63-0.
Theoretically each team has a 50% chance of winning in each game. Using the rules of probability, you have a 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 chance of being perfect.
Just to make sure we are on the same page: That’s 1 in 9.2 quintillion!
To put it in perspective. Your chances of winning the Powerball are a mere 1 in 292 million. You are also more likely to get hit by a piece of satellite debris falling from space. According to NASA, odds of that happening are 1 in 21 trillion.
In case you still aren’t convinced. If every single living person filled out 10 million brackets (no duplicates), there would be less than a 1% chance that one of those brackets was perfect. It’s estimated only 70 million get filled out each year.
Your chances of picking the tournament winner is easier, the odds typically say you have a one in 10 chance if it’s one of the favorites.
Chances of You Getting All 63 Games Correct in March Madness
Unfortunately, I don’t have the secret to picking all 63 games correctly, but I have plenty of tips that will improve the odds.
We have seen just one No. 1 seed lose to a No. 16 seed since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. If you don’t go out on a limb and call for a major upset in the first round, that’s four fewer games to worry about.
You can also look at the winners by seed to see what teams have a chance and which teams don’t.
Now the bad news. There’s still a 1 in 576,460,742,303,423,488 chance of going 59-0.
There would have to be minimal amounts of upsets with none of the top seeds losing early for this feat to be accomplished. Given the unpredictability of the Big Dance, I don’t see it happening.
If you want some help filling out your bracket this year, here’s a link to my bracket.