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## Perfect March Madness bracket odds: Why it's nearly impossible to pick all 63 NCAA Tournament games correctly

Putting together a perfect bracket is just about impossible. Here's a look into the chances your March Madness finishes the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament unscathed.

NCAA-BASKETBALL BASKETBALL

## Perfect March Madness bracket odds: Why it's nearly impossible to pick all 63 NCAA Tournament games correctly

Edward Sutelan 03-14-2022 • 7 min read

College basketball fans across the country are preparing to fill out their brackets for pools with friends and other betting contests. But one thing feels certain: no one will have a perfect bracket.

LeBron James with 36 PTS vs. Raptors

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Though not technically impossible, the chances of anyone correctly picking each NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament matchup correctly are incredibly slim.

Each year there are stunning upsets and Cinderella runs that can't be predicted. No. 15 Oral Roberts beat No. 2 Ohio State in 2021, and No. 11 UCLA reached the Final Four. The 12th-seeded Ducks reached the Sweet 16 in 2019 in a year that saw no eight seeds and only one seven seed even advance past the first round. In 2018, No. 1 UVA lost to No. 16 UMBC, the first time a 16 had beaten a 1.

Beyond even just the major upset stories, the simple fact behind what makes a perfect bracket so challenging is that even one loss, an innocuous No. 9 beating a No. 8, for example, makes the entire rest of the bracket imperfect.

But as fans start to fill out brackets, there will be some who feel this is the year their bracket is spotless. Here's a look into why that's not going to happen.

**TSN's MARCH MADNESS HQ**

**Live NCAA bracket | TV schedule | Predictor tool**

## What is a perfect bracket?

If you've completely filled out a perfect bracket, that means that you correctly predicted each of the 63 March Madness games before the tournament began. It also likely means you had a sports almanac from the future.

To start, someone would need to pick every matchup in the first round correctly. There are 32 games in that round alone. Based on a coin flip, someone would have a 1-in-4,294,967,296 chance to get each matchup correct.

The National Weather Services gives a 1-in-1,222,000 chance in being struck by lightning. Lottoland calculated the odds of being hit by a meteorite in a lifetime at just 1 in 840,000,000. The chances of winning the lottery are 1 in 292,200,000, per Powerball. So if you think you're safe outside from lightning and meteorites or think using $1 on the lottery is a waste of time and money, you can also count on your first round having at least one incorrect prediction.

## What are the odds of picking a perfect bracket?

How does this number look: 9,223,372,036,854,775,808.

If you were to pick an NCAA bracket based entirely on coin flips, odds say you would have to make that many different brackets for one to be correct. That number spelled out would nine quintillion, 223 quadrillion, 372 trillion, 36 billion, 854 million, 775 thousand, 808.

There is an estimated 1,040,160,000,000 square feet on Earth's surface, according to Space.com. Someone would have better odds correctly guessing the exact square foot on Earth where a random piece of paper was hidden than getting a perfect bracket.

According to the NCAA, if you have some basketball knowledge, the odds go up to 1 in 120.2 billion. According to Worldometers, there are 7.9 billion people on Earth, it is significantly more likely that someone could correctly guess exactly which person would be holding a random piece of paper.

For reference, it would also take everyone on Earth having basketball knowledge and filling out 15.2 brackets each for the odds to say at least one of those would be correct. By the coin flip odds, each person on Earth would have to fill out 1,167,515,450 brackets in order for one to be correct. ESPN's bracket challenge defaults to allow only 25 brackets per email, which would then mean each person on Earth would need to have 46,700,618 email addresses.

You get the point. The odds are beyond long.

**MORE: Print your 2022 March Madness bracket here**

## Has there ever been a perfect bracket before?

There has not. The closest anyone has come — that is known publicly — was Columbus native Gregg Nigl, who correctly predicted the first 49 games in the 2019 tournament, stumbling only when No. 3 Purdue beat No. 2 Tennessee, according to the NCAA.

Last year, there was not a single bracket that advanced past the first round of the tournament, the NCAA reported.

## What is the Warren Buffett March Madness Bracket Challenge?

There has perhaps never been a year of picking brackets quite as exciting as that of Warren Buffett's 2014 March Madness Bracket Challenge. That year, Buffett, who currently has a net worth of $116.7 billion, per Bloomberg, offered $1 billion to anyone who could get each pick right.

That was the only year in which the contest was open to the public, and since then, he has limited it to just employees at his company, Berkshire Hathaway. His most recent tournament was for $1 million per year for life to an employee that could pick the first and second rounds correctly, or $1 million if they just get the first round correct.

## Tips for picking a perfect bracket

Look for a scientist in the parking lot of a shopping mall with a DeLorean, ramp it up to 88 miles per hour and buy a sports almanac from at least 2023. Then come back to just before the tournament and fill out your picks.

## Picking the perfect bracket: Mathematical badness behind March Madness

How do you pick your winner?

## Picking the perfect bracket: Mathematical badness behind March Madness

Ivanhoe Newswire

Published: March 15, 2022, 6:00 AM

Updated: March 15, 2022, 8:59 AM

Tags: March Madness, Mathematical Badness, Perfect Bracket

Let the games begin! Sixty-three games actually. I’m talking about march madness when 126 college basketball teams face off for the title of NCAA basketball champion.

**ORLANDO, Fla.**– Let the games begin! Sixty-three games actually. I’m talking about march madness when 126 college basketball teams face off for the title of NCAA basketball champion.

This means it’s time to fill in your tournament bracket. But is it possible to pick a perfect bracket? Has anyone ever chosen every single winning team?

**Play & win:**

**🔒 Play the March Mania Bracket Challenge 🏀**

There’s more math to basketball than just racking up two points here… three points there… how do you pick your winner?

We hate to tell you this, but your chances of picking a perfect NCAA March Madness bracket is low… really low. In fact, the experts who study the numbers behind march madness say that if you randomly pick your bracket, the chances of winning is about one in 9.2 quintillion.

You have a better chance of winning the Powerball twice in a row, researchers using statistical methods have only reliably picked about 70 percent of the games correctly, making the probability of a perfect bracket one in 5.7 billion.

If you could reliably pick the winner of each game 75 percent of the time, the probability of perfection jumps all the way to one in 74 million. Here’s one tip, it’s a safe bet to choose all the number one seed teams to win their first-round matchups against number 16 seed teams, considering in the entire history of the tournament, only one number one seed team has ever lost to a 16 seed.

Here’s hoping you will beat the odds and be the first to pick a perfect bracket.

The probability of a perfect bracket is so low that Warren Buffet offered a billion dollars to anyone who could pull it off in 2014, no one did.

Copyright 2022 by Ivanhoe Newswire - All rights reserved.

## 15 Things With Better Odds Than Picking a Perfect March Madness Bracket

You're not going to pick a perfect bracket. Maybe Powerball makes more sense...

## 15 Things With Better Odds Than Picking a Perfect March Madness Bracket

By Nick Greene Mar 15, 2016

Getty Images / Getty Images

Picking a perfect March Madness bracket is astonishingly difficult. If you made a wild guess for each game—essentially a coin-flip, without taking things like seeding or even hunches into consideration—then your chances of getting a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (that’s 9.2 quintillion). But the actual odds of picking a perfect bracket are far more fluid. Basketball games aren’t random. Some teams are better than others. A one-seed has never lost to a 16-seed. Annoyingly, Duke will find a way to win.

Statisticians have estimated that with a little knowledge, you can slash your odds to somewhere between 1 in 128 billion (a number cooked up by a DePaul mathematician) and 1 in 2.4 trillion (another figure, as determined by a Duke mathematician). That’s a large window, but even if you err on the side of optimism, you still have an excruciatingly small chance of nailing your bracket.

To illustrate that unfortunate truth, here are 15 examples of things that have better odds than picking a perfect March Madness bracket. Not all of these are perfectly analogous, given the differences in a truly random event, like tossing dice, and making an educated guess on a basketball game. Still, one thing is for certain: You won’t like your odds.

## 1. GETTING A ROYAL FLUSH IN TEXAS HOLD ‘EM // 1 IN 30,940

In poker, nothing beats a royal flush: Ace, king, queen, jack, 10—all suited. If you drew one every hand, you would always win. This would be a terrific strategy, except for the fact that it relies on some pretty astronomical odds. According to gaming probability website Wizard of Odds (which was a great resource for this list), the chances of getting a royal flush in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em are 1 in 30,940.

In Texas Hold ‘Em, each player is given two cards, which they combine with five shared “community” cards to reach the best possible five-card hand. In other words, you'd have seven cards to make a royal flush. Given the total amount of possible hands one can get, it will likely be a long time before you see that doozy come across the table. Just try your best to play it cool if it ever happens, please.

## 2. GETTING A ROYAL FLUSH IN TEXAS HOLD ‘ED AND BEATING SOMEONE WHO HAS FOUR ACES // 1 IN 165 MILLION

If merely winning isn’t enough, you may want to consider winning in a way that makes your opponent tearily ask the powers above what he or she did to deserve such an unlikely fate. For that, you’ll want to beat the nearly unbeatable poker hand of four aces with a royal flush.

The odds of that happening in Texas Hold ‘Em? According to the Wizard of Odds, your chances are 1 in 165 million. Amazingly, this very scenario happened in a World Series of Poker event, in 2008:

(The odds given by ESPN of 1 in 2.7 billion are inaccurate, according to the Wizard of Odds, because they didn’t account for the possibility of bad beats and both players getting a royal flush and splitting the pot.)

## 3. WINNING THE POWERBALL JACKPOT // 1 IN 292,201,338

People love telling you that you’re not going to win Powerball. Even Powerball doesn’t try to hide the fact that hitting the jackpot is a 1-in-292,201,338 shot in the dark. Well, guess what? You’ve got a much better chance at that than you do at picking a perfect March Madness bracket.

## 4. WINNING A MILLION DOLLARS ON WHEEL OF FORTUNE // 1 IN 8098 PLAYERS

In 2008, Michelle Loewenstein won a million dollars on Wheel of Fortune, becoming the game’s first-ever contestant to do so. This feat was made possible by the wheel’s “million dollar wedge,” which was introduced six months before her win.

Mike Gioia of Particle Bits was suspicious of this timing, and he ran the numbers to find what the odds are of such an event happening. After crunching the numbers (you can check out his process here), he came to the conclusion that 1 in every 8098 players would take home the seven-figure prize. That would be one contestant every 13.8 years. His conclusion? “The odds are so low and her circumstances so peculiar that Michelle Loewenstein's million dollar game is in all likelihood an ABC creation.”

In an affront to math, two other Wheel of Fortune contestants have taken home the million-dollar prize since then.

## 5. HITTING A STOPPING HAND IN BLACKJACK BY SAYING “HIT ME!” 10 TIMES IN A ROW (IN A SIX-DECK GAME) // 1 IN 100,000,000

The Wizard of Odds ran a 100-million hand simulation and found that the chances of you reaching a stopping hand (17-21) while playing basic blackjack strategy and by drawing 10 cards is 1 in 100,000,000.

Who knows what would have happened if Austin Powers hadn’t lived so dangerously:

## 6. SEEING THE SAME ROULETTE COLOR 20 TIMES IN A ROW // 1 IN 3,091,873

According to Roulette Star, the chances of making like Ron Popeil—”Set it and forget it!”—at the roulette table are extremely slim. You have better odds with European roulette, where there is no green double-zero. Across the pond, the chances of a roulette streak of 20 reds or blacks is 1 in 1,813,778.

Either way, it still gives you a much better shot than picking a perfect bracket.

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