The Odds of March

Millions across the United States and thousands in Central Oregon will attempt to identify who will emerge from the annual NCAA basketball post-season tournament, appropriately dubbed March Madness, as champion through the art of bracketology.

So, what are the odds of completing a perfect bracket, correctly calling the outcomes of all 63 contests?  Well, in strict mathematical terms, the odds are 1 in 9.2 quintillion.  No misprint–that’s 9 with 18 zeroes–9,200,000,000,000,000,000.  You have better odds of hitting four holes-in-one in a single round of golf or getting bit by a shark or being elected president of the United States!

Now, according to DePaul math professor Jay Bergen, if you know a little something about college basketball, the odds of dealing the perfect bracket are significantly (in mathematical terms) reduced–1 in 128 billion.

And, with this year’s college basketball season lacking any semblance of a dominant team or teams–hey, Robert Morris (yes, Robert Morris of Moon Township in Pennsylvania) knocked off vaunted Kentucky in the first round of the NIT!–the odds of completing a perfect bracket appear about 1 to 9.2 octillion!

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