Well, it's that time of year again: March Madness, the time when every basketball fan that a real basketball fan ignores all sports except for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. It's the annual one-off tournament where the nation's best basketball schools -- and a few lucky conference winners via upset -- play to see who gets the title of National Champions. It is also the time where hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of brackets are filled out -- the actualization of bracketology -- in hopes of winning office or workplace pools or contests online. And even though you know it's an astronomical amount set of odds against you, you fill out the printable brackets and hope for the best. If you're like most, you fill out at least two: One for your favorite team or teams that are in the NCAA tournament and one for how you think the tournament might actually play out.
But what are the odds of getting a perfect bracket?
Geekosystem posted an article Monday, March 18, highlighting DePaul University math professor Jay Bergen and his calculations for filling out the perfect bracket. And just as you would imagine, the odds against are almost insurmountably enormous.
What are they?
9, 223, 372, 036, 854, 775, 808 to 1.
Bergen notes that the more than 9 quintillion ways that a bracket can be filled out would be the equivalent of every possible combination being guessed.
So he offers the basketball aficionado a little hope. He posits that if you're a follower of the game and you know certain things about the tournament, like a No. 1 seeded team has never lost to a No. 16 seed, then your chances are much better than someone simply guessing as they fill out the bracket. In fact, your odds increase to 1 in 128 billion of putting together a perfect bracket.
Simply put: Picking the winning numbers of any of the lotteries and becoming a millionaire is far more likely.
But that doesn't mean it can't be done. It is just unlikely.
Still, most play for fun and money and bragging rights. Even President Obama fills out a bracket each year (for which he receives plenty of political jabs from his opponents). This year he chose Louisville, Ohio State, Indiana, and Florida to make it to the Final Four in Atlanta.
And there's plenty of incentive to pick a perfect bracket. Do it and you'll be the only person in history, which could get you plenty of attention, not to mention all the money in the office pool. Fox Sports offered $1 million to anyone who scored a perfect bracket in 2012.
March Madness actually began on Sunday when the NCAA Selection committee put together the bracket for the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. It consisted of 68 teams. The madness began when the Liberty Flames took on the North Carolina A&T Aggies in Dayton Tuesday evening (March 19) in the first round of the tournament.