Updated: Apr 2, 2021
How many times can you afford to get something wrong before giving up? When it comes to NCAA Tournament brackets, there’s really no limit. A perfectly correct prediction is unlikely to ever get registered for as long as the tradition is alive, yet folks will continue to do it year after year.
There’s already no chance of anyone doing so in 2021 as all of the completed brackets have already gone bust. One upset was all it took for 95 percent of all brackets to get trashed this year.
Oral Roberts stunned the Ohio State Buckeyes for a 75-72 overtime win earlier this month, taking their first NCAA Tournament win for the first time since 1974. 14 million brackets had the No.2 seed Buckeyes to beat the 15-seeded Golden Eagles but, as history will show, that was not the case.
“I thought they really played well, as we expected they would,” opposition coach Chris Holtman said, per ESPN. “I thought their two players that obviously concerned us were terrific. So give them, their coaches, their players, their program, the university a lot of credit for this win.”
“We’re very confident,” Golden Eagles forward Kevin Obanor said after a 30-point game. “When they rank us, it’s only just a number at the end of the day. We put our shoes on just like they put their shoes on. … We just knew that we were the underdogs and we wanted to win for our brothers.”
The Eagles nearly made NCAA history on Saturday night. Had they beaten Arkansas, they would have become the first 15-seed to ever win three NCAA Tournament games since the competition was expanded to a 36-team format. Only nine of the 144 teams to enter as No.15 seeds have ever won one game, and just two have won two games. Unfortunately for Oral Roberts, a jumper from Arkansas Davonte Davis with 3.1 left handed the latter a 72-70 win as the Golden Eagles were unable to come up with the buzzer-beating three that would have given them the victory, falling just short.
NCAA basketball is notoriously difficult to predict. The number of upsets that take place every year is part of what makes the tournament so alluring, it’s also why it’s called March Madness.
As pointed out in an article by Betway, the odds of coming up with the perfect bracket are ridiculously long.
“A look at the unthinkable odds of correctly predicting all 63 games of the tournament shows why – as far as we know – nobody has ever pulled it off, and why it’s almost certain that nobody ever will,” it reads.
“The chances of correctly picking all 63 games at random are a ridiculous one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s 9.2 quintillion.
“To put the size of that number into context, 9.2 quintillion seconds is the equivalent of 292 billion years.”
The piece goes on to point out that one has a better chance of making it to the NBA, becoming a billionaire, winning the lottery, getting dealt a royal flush in a game of five-card poker, getting struck by lightning, getting struck by a meteorite or getting eaten by a shark.
With such rough odds, why even bother? Of course, no one’s giving up on the fun of trying to get that perfect set of picks. And folks could be encouraged by the fact that one man fell an astonishing 14 shy of the mark in 2019. Greg Nigl’s 49 correct selections are the closest anyone’s ever come to getting that unblemished bracket.
This year’s total got cut off at 28, just in case you were wondering.
Nigl’s feat was indeed impressive, although he did not get to 63. Expert advice and a little luck took him all the way into the Sweet 16 – he lasted until Purdue defeated Tennessee. The odds of picking the first round correctly are around 17,000 to one, let alone going 49 for 49.
Sadly, though, it’s unlikely anyone ever gets to 63. We would certainly hope no one ever gets struck by lightning or a meteorite ever again but, the odds are the odds. As for getting eaten by a shark, that’s somewhat within one’s control.
It would seem that just about anything’s more likely to occur than anyone picking a perfect bracket. One would have better luck guessing the best strikers in Premier League over the next few seasons, but who knows? Stranger things have happened.