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    Best bracket in March Madness history: What is the longest

    How close has anyone come to perfection? Sporting News looks back at some of the best March Madness brackets in history.


    Best bracket in March Madness history: What is the longest-running perfect bracket?

    Edward Sutelan 1 hour ago • 6 min read

    Everyone who fills out a bracket in March Madness loves to dream that theirs will be perfect. That this will be the year they not only win their pool, but make headlines as the first ever to have a perfect bracket.

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    Could it happen someday? Perhaps. But it's very unlikely.

    Getting 63 games correct sounds difficult on its own, but the odds make it sound impossible. Based on the math, it would take more than nine quintillion brackets to be filled out in order for one to be 100 percent correct.

    That's what makes the long streaks so fun. Hearing that someone has gotten the first 20-plus games correct feels like a major victory and a fun story, even if that isn't even out of the first round.

    But who has come the closest? Sporting News takes a look back at some of the most valiant attempts at making history.


    Live NCAA bracket | TV schedule | Predictor tool

    What is the longest-running perfect bracket?

    Back in 2019, Gregg Nigl picked the first 49 games correct. It was the first time a verified bracket had ever remained perfect through the Sweet Sixteen and well surpassed the previous record of 39 straight correct.

    Nigl's perfect bracket finally reached its end when Purdue defeated Tennessee in the 50th game of the tournament.

    It is very likely that record will stay put for quite a while. The odds of him even getting that many correct was 1-in-516,798,000,000,000. After he was perfect through 49, his odds of remaining perfect the rest of the way (based on a coin toss pick of each game) was about 1-in-16,384.

    MORE: Updated odds for every team to win the NCAA Tournament

    The rest of his bracket did not go quite as well as the start. He correctly predicted that Kentucky, Virginia, Gonzaga, Michigan State and Duke would reach the Elite Eight. He only nailed Virginia being in the Final Four, and had the Cavaliers losing to Kentucky in the semifinal, with Gonzaga beating the Wildcats in the championship. UVA went on to beat Texas Tech in the national championship that year.

    Odds of a perfect bracket in March Madness

    There's a reason Nigl's name will likely pop up every year around March Madness for a long time, and it's because he was closer than anyone before — or since — to pulling off the impossible.

    The actual odds of a perfect bracket — based on a 50/50 shot of each game — is 1-in-9,223,372,036,854,775,808. Spelled out, that's one in nine quintillion, 223 quadrillion, 372 trillion, 36 billion, 854 million, 775 thousand, 808. With basketball knowledge, the NCAA expects the odds to go up to 1-in-120.2 billion.

    MORE: Why it's nearly impossible to pick all 63 NCAA Tournament games correctly

    Best March Madness brackets by year


    It did not take long for all the perfect brackets to go down in 2021. After the first day of action, there were only 121 perfect brackets. On the second day, Maryland's defeat of UConn eliminated the final three perfect brackets that had predicted the first 28 games correctly.


    Everyone was perfect. No one was perfect. There was no tournament, and there were no selections, which meant that any mock brackets filled out got nothing wrong and nothing right.


    Nigl started the bracket with a perfect 49 games correct before getting one wrong. It stands alone as the best start to a verified bracket of all time.


    There were 25 brackets that believed they were on fire through the first 28 games of the tournament. Then came game No. 29. That cleared the field out.


    Before Nigl shattered the record in 2019, one Yahoo bracket had set the pace for the most games unscathed in March Madness. One bracket got the first 39 games correct, but the run came to an end when Purdue beat Iowa State.


    There were no brackets that made it past the first round. One bracket reached 25 games in a row to start the madness, but Stephen F. Austin defeating West Virginia halted that final bid for perfection.


    ESPN's bracket game set a then-ESPN Bracket Challenge record with 34 straight correct picks. It wasn't until Arizona beat Ohio State that the perfect run came to an end.


    There was one Yahoo bracket that went perfect through the first 36 games that had previously set the record for the longest streak. Yahoo reported it was the only time there had ever been a perfect first round in the site's history.

    BASKETBALL NCAA-BASKETBALL Author(s) Edward Sutelan

    Edward Sutelan is a digital content producer for The Sporting News. He has previously worked for PennLive, The Cape Cod Times and The Columbus Dispatch, and is an Ohio State University graduate.

    Source : www.sportingnews.com

    Has anyone ever had a perfect bracket for March Madness?

    Part of the fun of March Madness is filling out the bracket to predict how the tournament is going to play out. Has anyone ever done so 100% accurately?


    Has anyone ever had a perfect bracket for March Madness?

    Has anyone ever had a perfect bracket for March Madness? Part of the fun of March Madness is filling out the bracket to predict how the tournament is going to play out. Has anyone ever done so 100% accurately?

    Gidget Alikpala

    Update: 16 March 2022 06:08 EDT


    College basketball fans are crazy for March Madness, and part of what makes it fun is filling out the bracket to try your hand at predicting who will win the matchups and eventually make the Final Four.

    If you have been trying for years to come up with the perfect bracket and failing miserably at it, you’re not the only one. In fact, you’re literally like everyone else who has engaged in this endeavor- a failure in this regard.

    THE 2022 BRACKET! #MarchMadness

    Fill out yours:

    👉 https://t.co/ZiCZiRyfFS pic.twitter.com/olRC9it6qG

    — NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 13, 2022

    Against all odds

    No one has ever had a perfect bracket for March Madness. The odds are definitely not in anyone's favor, because mathematically, the chances of someone coming up with a perfectly accurate bracket are one in 9.2 quintillion. (A quintillion is one followed by 18 zeros.)

    The odds are so small that In 2014, billionaire Warren Buffett was confident enough to offer to pay $1 billion to anyone who would be able to come up with a perfect March Madness bracket.

    No one succeeded, as expected, and though the fifth richest man in the world made the same offer in succeeding years, it was typically made available only to employees of Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway.

    Other NCAA stories:

    March Madness: full list of teams that made the Big Dance

    How are teams chosen for March Madness?

    March Madness for dummies

    Gregg Nigl: Close, but no cigar

    The person who has come closest to correctly predicting the winners of all the games (on record) is Gregg Nigl of Columbus, Ohio, who achieved the record-setting feat in 2019. He correctly picked the winners for the first 49 games, and this broke the previous streak of 39 that was set in 2017. Nigl was also the first person to bring an unblemished bracket through to the Sweet 16.

    Despite the astronomical odds against bracket players, they continue to fill them out in the hopes of one day winning something (whether it’s bragging rights or actual money). There are approximately 70 million March Madness brackets filled out each year, according to the American Gaming association.

    The tournament’s unpredictability makes the bracket contest interesting and popular for a wider group of people. Even people who know nothing about college basketball could correctly guess a game’s outcome through sheer luck- making the process fun, or frustrating, for those who wish to participate.

    March Madness: full list of teams that made the Big Dance

    How are teams chosen for March Madness?

    More about…: March Madness Warren Buffett

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    The longest an NCAA bracket has ever stayed perfect

    If you’re wondering about the prospect of a NCAA bracket that is perfect through the entire run of the NCAA March Madness tournament, consider this: It’s hard enough to get past the first two days without a bust. But it's not impossible.


    The longest an NCAA bracket has ever stayed perfect


    The longest (verifiable) streak of correct picks in an NCAA tournament bracket to start the beloved March Madness tournament is 49, a streak that was established in 2019.

    An Ohio man correctly predicted the entire 2019 NCAA tournament into the Sweet 16, something we've not seen in years of tracking publicly verifiable online March Madness brackets at all major games.

    In 2021, multiple monumental upsets had all of the remaining perfect brackets busted on the 28thgame. That of course follows 2020, when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the NCAA tournament.

    Before the 2019 NCAA tournament, the longest streak of correct picks we had seen in a March Madness bracket was 39 games, achieved in 2017.

    Then Gregg Nigl, of Columbus, shattered that record with his briefly-famous "center road" NCAA tournament bracket in the Capital One NCAA March Madness Bracket Challenge, which correctly predicted the first 49 games of the 2019 tournament before busting in game 50, when 3-seed Purdue beat 2-seed Tennessee 99-94 in overtime of the second game in the Sweet 16.

    Nigl, a neuropsychologist from Columbus, Ohio, became the first verified bracket ever to pick through to the Sweet 16 correctly.

    With more than three decades of online and paper brackets to sift through (the current format has existed since 1985) and with somewhere between an estimated 60 million to 100 million brackets filled out every year, it's very possible that someone, somewhere has done better. Determining an official record is made even more difficult by the fact that online games only recently have begun comprehensive record-keeping.

    We've closely tracked about 20-to-25 million online brackets per year at a half dozen major games since 2016 using public leaderboards in combination with direct reporting and information gathering with those games. Prior to 2016, we've relied on those games' reports as well as online archives to get the best information available.

    Until this year, we could find no verified brackets that have been perfect into the Sweet 16 at all. There was a widely reported instance of a bracket that was perfect through two rounds in 2010, but there was no way to verify the bracket’s authenticity. It had been entered in an online game where picks could be altered between rounds according to a Deadspin report at the time.


    Here's where we stood in each of the previous years:


    No perfect NCAA bracket lasted through the first round on Friday night, thanks to the historic 16-1 upset of UMBC over Virginia. Of the millions of brackets we tracked, 25 were perfect through the first 28 games of the tournament, but UMBC's win in game No. 29 knocked all of them out.


    We saw an incredible 39 games picked to start the tournament, a number that was the highest recorded until 2019. The record-setting bracket, entered in Yahoo’s bracket game, was the only bracket to make it past 37 games unscathed, and managed to reach 39 straight correct picks before Iowa State fell short of a comeback against Purdue and handed the bracket its first loss of the tournament.


    The longest anyone went this year was 25 games. With Stephen F. Austin's win over West Virginia on Friday night, the last remaining perfect NCAA tournament bracket busted. A 15-2 upset (Middle Tennessee over Michigan State) made this a tough year for brackets.


    This was another top year, as one bracket in the ESPN online bracket game picked the first 34 games correctly, according to a story by ESPN senior writer Darren Rovell. ESPN said in 2016 that its 2015 bracket was the best start to a tournament it had on record in 18 years of its game.

    2014 (and before)

    Before 2017, the longest perfect bracket streak tracked was 36, according to Yahoo! Sports. In 2014, Brad Binder went 36-for-36 to start the tournament. Yahoo! Sports reported that Binder's bracket was the only time it had a perfect bracket go into the second round in its 18-plus years of hosting a game

    In 2019's tournament, the relative predictability (top seeds winning) of the NCAA tournament led to an abnormally high number of perfect brackets surviving the first round. We tracked an estimated 25 million brackets from the start, at six major online games, including the Capital One March Madness Bracket Challenge here at NCAA.com. Of those, 15 were perfect after the first 32 games of the tournament.

    Saturday trimmed that field a bit more, and in games on NCAA.com, CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated and Yahoo!, just two March Madness brackets remained perfect through 40 games heading into Sunday — Nigl's and a bracket at Yahoo.

    The brackets disagreed on the fourth game of the day — Texas Tech-Buffalo. When Texas Tech won, that left just Nigl's "center road" bracket as the only perfect March Madness bracket left. Center road survived multiple scares Sunday, including the Tennessee overtime win and Duke's escape over UCF.

    And after a runaway Gonzaga victory to start the Sweet 16, the "center road" bracket suffered its first loss, as Purdue beat Tennessee 99-94 in overtime in the 50th game of the tournament. That run of 49 correct games will be very hard to top in the future. Side note, it's the second time in three years that Purdue has busted a record-holding perfect bracket.

    Source : www.ncaa.com

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