It’s become a yearly tradition for sports fans and non-sports fans alike to fill out an NCAA bracket for March Madness. However, it’s more likely that a left-handed person will die from using a right-handed product than it is for someone to fill out a bracket perfectly.
The statistics behind creating a perfect bracket make the possibility of properly predicting the tournament go from a layup to a half-court shot.
Each bracket has 64 different teams that are separated by division and is narrowed down as those teams win or lose. Winning teams go farther down the bracket and are lumped into groups based on their success rates (Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four).
As 64 teams narrow down by half every round until a final winner is chosen, one may think the odds of filling out the bracket are within reach.
According to professor Jeff Bergen at DePaul University, the odds of having a perfect bracket that predicts the winner of each game properly are one in 9.2 quintillion (one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to be exact). That probability was calculated by choosing a winner from each game, one in two, and then multiplying that by itself 63 times.
When you add in factors of teams most likely to win based on their season success and research done by sports analysts, that number can be reduced to one in 128 billion.
While those odds are reduced, they are still astronomical in comparison with other human feats. You are more likely to become an astronaut, win an Academy Award or get killed by a falling coconut than you are to complete a perfect bracket.
The 2018 March Madness has proved to be unfavorable to bracket-fillers as their predictions turned out to be wrong.
In February, business mogul Warren Buffett promised his employees at Berkshire Hathaway that a perfect prediction of which teams will make it to the Sweet 16 will earn that employee $1 million every year for the rest of their life. After the second round, none of the 375,000 employees had an on-track bracket.
Sports fans who filled out brackets expressed their excitement and frustration with this current March Madness record-breaking results.
“I get so excited every year to come up with my bracket, but this year has wrecked me,” sports fan Kyle Hartford said. “Pretty much most of my first round predictions were wrong and that messed up my second round too.”
While NCAA brackets can be used for competitive sport material, other bracket-fillers have found it can be used as a tool for family interaction.
Sports enthusiast Riley McDowall said that her family uses March Madness as an opportunity to gather together and have a friendly competition.
“Filling out a bracket is my family’s annual tradition,” McDowall said. “We all make our guesses and see who is the closest. I love college basketball, so I get pretty far each year.”
Those who fill out brackets may feel that there is no hope for success. However, you are more likely to win both the Mega Millions Jackpot and Powerball lotteries than you are to have a perfect bracket, so try that next year instead.