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March Madness Perfect Bracket Odds Compared To Powerball, Mega Millions

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 6 mins

March Madness Perfect Bracket Odds Compared To Powerball, Mega Millions

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We're on to the Final Four. 

And your NCAA Tournament bracket has long been busted.

What are the odds of getting a perfect March Madness bracket? 

Let's take a look. 

The quick answer is: 9,223,372,036,854,775,808-1.

But it's a bit more complicated. 

Your chances are a bit better if you know anything about basketball. There, they are considered to be 120.2 billion-1, according to work done by Georgia Tech professor Joel Sokol and the NCAA. 

With either set of those odds, you are much better off playing Powerball or Mega Millions. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are a mere 292,201,338-1. The next Powerball drawing for its $1 billion jackpot is Monday. There the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 302,575,350-1.

The Numbers Behind The Numbers

March Madness Perfect Bracket Odds Compared To Powerball, Mega Millions 1

The NCAA men’s tournament includes a total of 68 teams and 67 games. Four of those teams participate in what is called “The First Four.” 

For our purposes, and the purposes of most NCAA bracket pools, the focus is on a traditional 64-team bracket with 63 games that commenced on March 21. 

So what is the probability of getting all 63 outcomes correct in an “either-or” equation with no probability of a third outcome?

Think of a coin flip and getting heads 63 times in a row. When you have to get heads 63 times in a row. 

That’s a 1 in 2 probability, raised to the power of itself 63 times. 

So, what does .5 x .5 x.5 . . . repeated 63 times (or 2^63) equal?

9,223,372,036,854,775,808. 

Or 9.223 quintillion-1.

Yep, that’s a real number. 

A trillion is equal to one million million. 

A quintillion is equal to one billion billion. 

March Madness Perfect Bracket Odds Compared To Powerball, Other Events

Here are some “real life” events with the odds they carry in comparison to the 9.2 quintillion-1 or 120.1 billion-1 odds that you have of guessing your way to a perfect NCAA bracket.

Event Odds-To-One
Perfect NCAA Bracket (Raw)9.2 quintillion
You Being Born400 quadrillion
Winning Powerball & Mega Millions75.6 quadrillion
Perfect NCAA Bracket (Model)120.1 billion
Having Sextuplets3.939 billion
Winning Mega Millions 302,575,350
Winning Powerball 292,201,338
Eaten By A Shark264 million
Becoming President (US only)32.6 million
Struck By Lightning Twice19 million
Birthing Identical Quadruplets15 million
Dying In A Plane Crash11 million
Becoming An Astronaut (US only) 7.697 million
Dying From A Bee Sting 6.5 million
Attacked By A Shark 5 million
Grizzly Bear Attack (Yellowstone) 2.7 million
Becoming A Movie Star1.5 million
Flipping Heads 20 Straight Times1.04 million
Die From Flesh-Eating Bacteria1 million
Struck By Lightning 960,000
Being Dealt A Royal Flush 649,739
Winning An Olympic Medal 662,000
Blackjack 3 Times In A Row 22,722
Flopping A Royal Flush 19,600
A Hole In One 12,500
A 4-Leaf Clover 10,000
Living To 100 (US Only) 3,777

Breaking Down The Odds For A Perfect March Madness Bracket 

Sokol says that most college basketball models hit about 75% of the time. Based on those numbers, he pegs the odds of getting those 63 games correct at between 1 in 10 billion to 1 in 40 billion. 

Based on NCAA data, players in its Bracket Challenge Game has been correct 66.7% of the time per average game over the past 5 years. Based on that data, the NCAA pegs its more realistic chances of getting that perfect bracket are a mere 1 in 120.2 billion. 

Not quite as easy as backing Patrick Mahomes as an underdog in the Super Bowl.

But still 70 million times better than if you blindly guessed teams based at random. 

The NCAA projects If every person in the United States filled out a completely unique bracket that was 66.7 percent accurate, one could expect a perfect bracket in 2390, or just 366 years from now.

By then, maybe even Gonzaga might go all the way to a national title. 

How Popular Is The NCAA Tournament?

March Madness Perfect Bracket Odds Compared To Powerball, Mega Millions 2

For Caesars Sportsbook Assistant Director of Trading Adam Pullen, the betting tidal wave for March Madness is driven by the passion and tradition that the tournament carries. 

"There are so many close games. Buzzer beaters. You don't have to be a basketball fan to be interested in the tournament. The lay person. Everyone knows what March Madness is. It's part of the fabric of this country. A unique event. And it's four weeks long," Pullen told bookies.com in an exclusive interview last week. "That first Thursday and Friday, you can't beat the excitement. Being in a sportsbook. It's just crazy. It can't be touched. The small schools beat the big schools. It emcompasses so much in life. Anybody can win. A No. 1 like Purdue (in 2023) can lose. Those things happen. It just transcends sports." 

And the numbers behind the Madness are telling. 

Here are some numbers, according to a survey of 2,000 basketball fans aged 21+, conducted by OnePoll this past February 8-14 for Tipico sports book. 

  • 36 hours: Average time spent on March Madness
  • 13 hours: Watching games
  • 10 hours: Engaging with online content and highlights,
  • 6 hours: Creating brackets and placing bets
  • 57%: Think their favorite team can win the tournament
  • 30%: Will pick their team to win their bracket
  • 19 points: Average second-half deficit that will cause fans to give up hope
  • 26%: Fans have skipped work to catch a game
  • $570: Fans expect to spend on the tournament experience
  • 39%: Fans are expected to bet on the tournament 
  • $261: Expected average winnings 

“March Madness is a cultural phenomenon unlike any other because anyone can be a hero; every year, new storylines captivate a diverse audience and define the fabric of the college basketball world," said  Brian Becker, Tipico Head of Marketing. "For fans nationwide, it is a battle between knowledge and pure luck, but this survey data highlights that basketball fans are overwhelmingly loyal and trust that the time they spend educating themselves will give them an edge.”

Pullen concurs. "My daughter fills out a bracket. It's part of the national culture." 

March Madness 2024 Upcoming Schedule 

Here is the upcoming schedule for March Madness 2024:

Final Four: Saturday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

NCAA Championship Game: Monday, April 8 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

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About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.