Perfect Rounds and Perfect Brackets:
An Inside Look (2019)

There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (or 2**63) possible brackets. If each game is viewed as a toss-up, then each of these brackets are equally likely to occur. However, basketball aficionados know that since 1985, a No. 1 seed has lost to a No. 16 seed only once (in 2018), while the No. 8 - No. 9 game teams are evenly matched. This means that not all games are toss-ups, and that using some basketball knowledge can improve the odds of picking a perfect bracket.

What about the odds of a perfect round? The following table estimates these odds values, assuming that each game is a toss-up, or each seed will perform exactly as it has historically.performed.

We can use this information to estimate the odds of picking a perfect bracket. If all games are toss-ups, then the odds are 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 (or (2**63)-1) to 1. If all seeds are expected to perform exactly as they have historically, then using the third column in the table, the estimated odds of getting all the seeds correct drops to just over 1.5 billion to 1. If all seeds are expected to perform exactly as they have historically and taking into account the four regions, then using the fourth column in the table, the estimated odds of getting all the seeds correct in their respective regions is just over 36 billion to 1. Note that 1.5 billion to 1.odds is for getting all the seeds correct, though not necessarily in the correct regions. The 36 billion to 1 odds is for getting all the seeds correct in the correct regions, a true perfect bracket.

Round Toss-up Historical Performance, Seeds Historical Performance, Teams
Round of 64 (32 games correct) 4,294,967,295 799 thousand 19.2 million
Round of 32 (16 games correct) 4,294,967,295 29.1 thousand 699 thousand
Sweet Sixteen (8 games correct) 1,677,215 760 18.3 thousand
Elite 8 (4 games correct) 65,535 184 4440
Final Four (2 games correct) 1,023 9 117
National Champion (1 game correct) 63 1.4 8.5
All Rounds (63 games correct) 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 731 million 18 billion

 

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