What Are The Odds Of Creating A Perfect March Madness Bracket?
Mark Strotman | 4 mins
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There are few things better for sports fans than filling out their NCAA Men’s March Madness Tournament bracket. Whether you’re a die-hard college hoops fan, a loyal alum, or simply want to try your luck at beating your friends, family, or work colleagues in the annual challenge.
Likewise, some fans stay true to a single bracket while others mix and match, having a bracket that features all favorites, one for big upsets, and another where you’ve got your alma mater going a little farther than even you believe they’ll go.
Just don’t be too hard on yourself if your bracket gets busted. It happens every year like clockwork—wild upsets early in the first weekend often mean you're putting red pen to your bracket sooner than you'd like. Consider that each year, the winner of the major pools on ESPN and CBS get between 8 and 10 of the 64 games incorrect. Those pools feature millions of players.
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It's why you DEFINITELY shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if your bracket isn’t perfect. Because, well, it’s basically impossible. Smarter people than us calculated that there are 9.2 quintillion bracket outcomes (2^63). And even if you consider all the 1 seeds as locks, that still means hitting on a 67-team parlay with many matchups that have moneyline odds well below -200.
Taking all that into account, the odds of filling out a perfect NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket are 120 billion to 1. Yep. It goes without saying that the chances of that happening are, umm, rare—but exactly how rare? Let’s look at a few things that are more likely to happen than you getting all 67 games correct...
Having Sextuplets: 1 in 3.939 billion
For every perfect bracket, there would be 30 sets of sextuplets born in the world (that is incredibly unscientific; please don’t hold us to that). Six children in one pregnancy sounds like a lot for many reasons, but you could also theoretically field a starting lineup and sixth man from one family—all at the same age.
Winning the Powerball: 1 in 292,201,338
Someone wins the Powerball jackpot despite some incredibly long odds. The most recent Powerball winner took home $2.04 billion last month in California. Can you imagine putting together a perfect March Madness bracket—way more unlikely than a Lotto ticket—and only taking home your office’s pool money? That’d be a shame.
Eaten by a shark: 1 in 264 million
The Long Island Sharks finished a measly 3-26 this season, so there will be no predatory water animals in the NCAA Tournament this season. Based on their record (and the fact that they haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2018), it’s also pretty unlikely that you’re going to be beaten by the Long Island Sharks, too, just like it’s tough to get eaten by one—though much more likely than filling out a bracket to perfection.
For what it’s worth, Long Island was 11-18 ATS on college basketball betting sites, so it wasn’t that bad.
The 120 billion to 1 March Madness parlay
OK, so we’ve determined your bracket isn’t going to be perfect. And if you really need us to prove it further, we’ve put together a ridiculous seven-team parlay that—if it somehow hit—would pay out close to $120 billion on a $1 bet. We would avoid placing even a single dollar on this, but it’s just as likely to happen as all 67 of your college basketball picks for the tournament being correct. Apparently.
- Arizona ML over Princeton: -1250
- UCLA ML over UNC Asheville: -4000
- UC Santa Barbara to make the Final Four: +13000
- Howard to make the Final Four: +25000
- Northern Kentucky to make the Final Four: +25000
- Florida Atlantic to make the Final Four: +2500
- Northern Kentucky to win the NCAA Championship: +50000
Potential payout on $1 bet: $119,008,349,836
With apologies to UC Santa Barbara, Howard, Northern Kentucky, and Florida Atlantic, that is a Final Four that absolutely no one wants to watch—unless you were about to cash out on your sports betting app on this totally hypothetical parlay.