Astronomical is a term that’s used pretty loosely at times. But when it comes to the chances of anyone filling out a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket, it could even be considered an understatement.
No one has ever gotten close to getting all 63 games correctly, at least not since the NCAA started keeping check some five years ago. Since then, the highest number of correct predictions remains at 49 – but we’ll get to that a bit later.
As it pertains to this year’s tournament, all brackets have already gone bust, with three of them maxing out at 28. As pointed out by Betway, the odds of completing this feat is a whopping 9.2 quintillion to one. We totally understand if this figure is too large to compute, but the excerpt below does a great job of putting it into context.
“Year after year, millions of people fill out their NCAA Tournament bracket. Year after year, every single one of those brackets is busted,” it reads. “Whether you’re a college basketball fanatic who puts months into researching potential champions, upsets and Cinderella stories, or a casual fan who picks winners almost at random, the likelihood is that you’ve never come close to a perfect March Madness bracket.
“Like sports betting, for many attempting to nail the bracket has become a become a huge part of enjoying the NCAA Tournament. A look at the unthinkable odds of correctly predicting all 63 games of the tournament shows why – as far as we know – nobody has ever pulled it off, and why it’s almost certain that nobody ever will.
“The chances of correctly picking all 63 games at random are a ridiculous one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s 9.2 quintillion.
“To put the size of that number into context, 9.2 quintillion seconds is the equivalent of 292 billion years.”
So you see where astronomical comes in now. The word is really quite apt.
If you’re actually still in college and are thinking of a career in the NBA, you’d actually have a much better chance of getting drafted, or probably even sneaking in undrafted, than filling out a perfect March Madness bracket. In fact, you’d be 36 million times more likely to do so.
According to Betway, “In a typical season, there are approximately 540,000 players participating in men’s high school basketball in the United States. Less than one in 35 of those goes on to play in college, and less than one in 75 NCAA senior players is drafted to the NBA.
“All in all, the chances of a high school basketball player reaching the NBA are about one in 3,300. Pretty unlikely, right?
“Well, that’s still around 36 million times more likely than a perfect bracket.”
Among things more likely to happen than one predicting all 63 matches correct: getting struck by lightning, getting struck by a meteorite (yes, it has happened at least one time), being dealt a royal flush in a game of five-card poker, and becoming a billionaire.
The last NCAA Tournament saw one Ohio man get 49 of his picks correct and it was something so unheard of, he made the news. Greg Nigl is the only person known to have come as close to predicting a perfect bracket, and he put the work in too.
Greg was an avid viewer of ESPN’s Bracketology but also relied on a bit of luck, actually having picked a college simply because he and his wife visited the place the previous summer. As it turns out, he filled out four brackets but the most important one was almost never completed as Greg had taken ill and even called into work to report that he could not make it – he completed the bracket right before the deadline.
We aren’t sure we will ever see anyone get as close as Greg did in 2019 but what’s even more certain is the possibility of going an entire lifetime without seeing anyone get that clean sweep.
So many things are more likely to happen than a perfect bracket getting filled out, so why not spend the time you would take filling out a bracket to do something else, like getting lottery tickets or searching for tips on strengthening your jump shot? There are other random things you could probably try – how about predicting the Premier League goal leaders for the next five seasons or placing a bet on the next pope? All more likely to bear fruit than a bracket, right?