Here Are The Overwhelming Odds You'd Have To Overcome To Pick A Perfect March Madness Bracket

Don't worry, no one else did either.

It's hard to pick a perfect bracket in March Madness. Like, really, really, really hard. As much fun as it is to enter one or more pools with friends, family, co-workers, or even strangers, every year most brackets are busted by the second or third round of action. That has plenty to do with upsets and the way teams are seeded, to be sure, but mainly because of the sheer number of possibilities associated with a tournament featuring 64 teams and 63 games. There are more than 9.2 quintillion possible combinations — not even the president can overcome those odds.
That number — 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 — to be exact, is so big that it prompted FiveThirtyEight journalist Walt Hickey to find a way to wrap his heads around it. Hickey points out, "If you had one penny for all the possible bracket combinations, first of all, your wish-making syntax with genies is AWFUL, but also your penny stash would be worth about 858 times the value of the global economy."
Also, as he cheekily states, "If you were waiting for Comcast to show up and install your Internet and the technician said it would only be another 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 seconds, that would take 21 times the age of the universe and fall just barely outside the average Comcast response time."
The point being, every year, your bracket is probably not the perfect bracket. And even though the real probability is estimated to be somewhere around 2.5 trillion — because people don't pick completely randomly, even if they know nothing about college basketball — that still leaves your chances of perfection wildly improbable. The odds of winning the Powerball are 1 in 292 million, which is hard enough. March Madness would actually become March Insanity if ever a perfect bracket crawled its way into existence.
But there's no need to get as sad as Bill Murray over it — everyone else is in the same boat. In fact, barely anyone got the Final Four teams right this year, and even those who did made plenty of mistakes along the way.
Well, see you next year.
Cover image: Wikimedia

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