Why a perfect March Madness bracket is impossible

Why a perfect March Madness bracket is impossible

March Madness brings together some of the best teams and offers a lot of exciting games that are played over three weeks in different arenas in the United States. For college basketball fans, nothing is more appealing than the opportunity to fill out a bracket and see how well they have done in their predictions. A huge number of people in the US indulge in this activity every year in March. 

The objective for the fans is to achieve perfection, which means predicting all 63 matches correctly. However, pulling off such a feat looks impossible for any human being. Although many are satisfied even if they are a little better than their friends. 

As a college basketball fan, many may have picked several first-round upsets over the years in their brackets only to get busted. They may have selected underdogs they were convinced would make it to the Final Four, only to be proved that they wildly overestimated the team’s abilities. Although it should be said that the disappointment of seeing the brackets busted bears no comparison to the joy and thrill one experience when their favourite team wins. 

And considering the odds, it looks very likely that no human being will ever get a perfect bracket. The probability of accurately predicting all 63 games at random is a staggering one in 9.2 quintillion. Although the odds significantly improve if a player is somewhat knowledgeable about college basketball. But that sill becomes one in 120.2 billion for an average player. 

For understanding this point better, let's compare it to some other highly improbable occurrences. Becoming a professional basketball player would be one of the toughest achievements for anyone. But compared to the likelihood of a perfect bracket, it looks laughably easy. 

With around 540,000 players taking part in men’s high school basketball, approximately one in 35 in the US get to play in college. And of those lucky few, even fewer than one in 75 make it to the NBA, which means that about one in 3,300 high school players achieves their dream of playing professionally. However, the probability of that achievement is still about 36 million times more likely than going 63 for 63 this March. 

Now let’s compare a perfect bracket with the odds of being hit by a meteorite, an event we all know to be extremely unlikely. However, with the chance of around 1.6 million to one, being hit by a meteorite is still 75,000 more probable than achieving a perfect bracket this March. Even one is more likely to win the Lotto Max jackpot (which has the odds of 1 in 33.3 million) than achieving perfection through March. 

Having said all that, it looks unlikely that probability will stop sports fans from searching college basketball’s Holy Grail. And it’s not just basketball, all sports fans tend to be like this. Even if football fans repeatedly fail to correctly guess the premier league player of the month for current season, they always try again, hoping they will get it right.