What are the NCAAB Odds of picking a perfect March Madness bracket?

What are the NCAAB Odds of picking a perfect March Madness bracket?

Written by on February 21, 2019

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 quintillions). 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 just once lost to a 16-seed. Annoyingly, Duke will find a way to win at least a few games.

What are the NCAAB Odds of picking a perfect March Madness bracket?

Math is Not There

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 a few 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. 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. The chances of getting a royal flush in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em are 1 in 30,940. Look for the latest NCAAB Odds heading into 2019 March Madness. 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.

I guess it’s Possible

In 2012, something truly remarkably supposedly happened at the Rio in Las Vegas: a roulette wheel hit the same number seven times in a row. At 3 billion to 1 odds, this seems too good to be true. Caesar’s Las Vegas Blog pointed out that this was likely the result of a glitch in the table’s sensor device that is linked to the display and not an actual occurrence of chance. They checked in with the hotel and were able to confirm this. The house wins again, unfortunately. Sure, you may be confident that you know how much that NordicTrack costs. You may have even have hammered out a perfect strategy for the Showcase Showdown. But should you get invited to come on down and be the next contestant on The Price is Right and find yourself staring down the barrel of a Plinko board, the odds of you winning the $50,000 jackpot are 1 in 59,049.