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The Insane Odds of a Perfect March Madness Bracket

Every year, hundreds of thousands of sports fans look forward to a tournament unlike any other. 64 teams, single elimination, one champion.
The Insane Odds of a Perfect March Madness Bracket

March Madness is the NCAA Men’s basketball bracket that determines a champion. At the end of February and beginning of March, each Division 1 conference plays their own conference tournament. The winner of the conference tournaments gets an automatic bid into March Madness.

For the other teams who didn’t get an automatic bid, they have to wait till Selection Sunday to see whether or not they were picked to compete. After the selection show, the 64 team bracket is set.

The NCAA Tournament has a fun way to make the games and viewing experience even better; The 64 team bracket every fan can fill out to make their predictions and hopefully win their pool. Brackets can be made with family, friends, coworkers, etc. Every year 60-100 million brackets are made and filled out.

The competitiveness of the bracket predictions started in 1977 in a Staten Island Bar. 88 locals all made their predictions and put their brackets against each other. Since then, millions of people tagged along in the tradition.

The millions of brackets filled out every year leads to the question; Has anyone ever had a perfect NCAA bracket and predicted all 64 games correctly? Well the answer to this is no. Not a single person in the history of the tournament has predicted every single game correctly.

If you were to flip a coin to make your predictions heads or tails for each game of the tournament you would have a 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (9.2 quintillion) chance of getting a perfect bracket. But that’s just if you were to pick with the fate of the coin, disregarding any college basketball knowledge.

Jeffery Bergen, a mathematics teacher at Depaul, researches these odds consistently. He found that by always picking the higher seed or applying college basketball knowledge, it shrinks the odds to only 1 in 128 Billion.

The longest a perfect bracket has lasted was in 2019 when Greg Nigl correctly picked the first 49 games of the tournament until it busted in only the second game of the sweet 16. This was the farthest a bracket has ever gone before breaking.

2019 was a lucky case for Greg Nigl because since then there has not been a single person who has predicted every game correctly in the first round. The closest runner up was the 28th game in 2021.

This year we can expect around 70 million more brackets to be filled out, will this be the year we finally see a perfect bracket?! ( odds are probably not)

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About the Contributor
Jack Wadlington is a junior at Broomfield High School, and is partaking in his first year of the Eagle Way News. Jack plays basketball for Broomfield High School and also competes in Track. Jack hopes to go to college on an athletic scholarship for basketball and study broadcasting and Journalism as well. Jack lives in Westminster with his parents, three siblings, and two french Bulldogs. Jack hopes to write and be involved in the sports area of the newspaper and overall enjoy the class.

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