With 120.2 billion to one, it is more probable that you will get struck by lightning, wind up with quintuplets, or win the lottery, than to select the perfect NCAA tournament ticket.
Every year, millions try their luck filling out their NCAA Tournament bracket. And every year, not a single person finds themselves lucky, as all those brackets are busted.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a college basketball enthusiast who passionately puts in months of research in the potential championships, or you are just a regular fan who picks a winner randomly, the truth is that you will never come close to getting the perfect March Madness bracket right.
Just like sports betting, enjoying the NCAA Tournament is now part of the joy of trying to nail the bracket.
A glance at the unusual odds of trying to predict the outcomes of all the 63 games correctly will tell you why nobody has ever been successful, and nearly certainly, why no one will ever be successful.
Your chances of correctly getting all the 63 predictions randomly are 9, 223, 372, 036, 854, 775, 808.3 In other words, you have a single chance out of 9.2 quintillion. To put this into context, 9.2 quintillion seconds is about 292 billion years.
No one has ever filled their entire bracket randomly, though, you may have much-improved odds of going 63 out of 63 if you are knowledgeable about college football.
In 2020, data from the NCAA’s Bracket Challenge Game revealed that an average player has a one in 120.2 billion chance of picking the perfect basket.
Consider becoming a professional basketball player, for example.
In a normal season, slightly over half a million take part in men’s high school basketball. The number that then proceed to play basketball in college is always less than one in 35, and further, less than one in 75 NCAA senior players get to be drafted over to the NBA.
Generally, there is a one in 3,300 chance that a high school basketball player will reach the NBA. Highly unlikely, right? However, this is still 36 million times more likely compared to locking down the perfect sequence.
Next, consider the chances of landing a royal flush – this is the rarest hand in any game of five-card poker. The chance is usually one in 815,314. You are 185,000 more likely to get this than to get the perfect bracket.
It is usually said that the odds of getting struck by lightning is one in a million. Getting hit by lightning is therefore, 120,000 less likely compared to the chance of getting a perfect bracket.
With odds of around, 1.6million to one, it is certainly laughable that you could be hit by a meteorite, but this is 75,000 more likely to happen than you getting the perfect bracket.
There is a one in 33.3M chance of winning the Lotto Max jackpot. This is about 3610 times more likely than getting the perfect bracket. The odds of getting quintuplets, on the other hand, is one in every 55M natural births, but this is 2185 times more likely than obtaining the perfect bracket.
Despite the huge odds, the hunt for the perfect bracket is still on. This year, there will be a number of people encouraged by the attempts of Gregg Nigl who came closer to a perfect bracket than anyone else before him.
Gregg went 49 for 49, providing the correct prediction of every game till the Sweet Sixteen, where Tennessee lost to Purdue to end his streak. This run was very admirable, given that the odds of getting the first round of games right is about 17,000 to one.
The perfect bracket is still a long way to go. Nigl still had chances of one in 32, 786 of predicting the final 15 games from the Sweet Sixteen.
At this point, it is most logical to concede that we may never see someone get a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket. This March, millions of enthusiasts are going to look at the stats and seedings, then wait and see their bracket busted on the very first day.
But, you never know! This could be your lucky year.