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 18 billion to 1. Note that 731 million to 1 odds is for getting all the seeds correct, though not necessarily in the correct regions. The 18 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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