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How busted is your bracket?

In a year without Kentucky dancing, it may have been difficult playing in your March office pool. Not being able to do a “serious bracket” and a “fun bracket” where you have all the upsets and Kentucky winning it all no matter what. It’s a dark time. But the night is always darkest before the dawn.

The strategies for selecting winners vary from the hard-nosed number cruncher, to the gut-feelers, to the draw-a-name-out-of-the-hat pickers. Whatever your method, it doesn’t take much for a bracket to go from beautiful green highlights to strokes of red like a murder scene. When it gets to that point — and we all get to that point — it doesn’t matter how you picked ‘em. You’re busted and your bracket is in the trash.

Just how bad did things get this year? Out of ESPN’s 8.15 million brackets nobody got all the Sweet Sixteen teams correct. Only four got closest, picking 15 of 16 teams correctly. And the usual suspect of Florida Gulf Coat hasn’t always been the team to shred the streak of perfection. Wichita State and La Salle are a couple of others that went unpredicted by the current leaders.

Believe it or not, on the other side, more than 1,000 unfortunate souls went 0-for-16 after the round of 32. Somehow, there are people with worse prognostication skills than you.

Florida Gulf Coast, however, remains the biggest surprise as the Eagles became the first 15-seed ever to reach the Sweet Sixteen. Just 0.95 percent of brackets picked FGCU to advance that far. And a little more than 2,000 (fans and alumni, obviously) have them winning it all. Only 0.3 percent of brackets accurately predicted a Florida versus Gulf Coast matchup. Another 0.2 percent had all three Sunshine State teams, Florida, Gulf Coast, and Miami in the Sweet Sixteen.

In the West — the region which royally screwed everybody — just 966 brackets had all four teams, Ohio State, Arizona, Wichita State, and La Salle, reaching the second weekend.

The East region, which turned out to be all chalk, was correctly picked by 35.5 percent of entries. As a comparison to just how uncomfortable America is with Cinderella’s, the Midwest region which went 1-2-3-12 was correctly picked by just 9.8 percent of entries.

An all-chalk bracket would have 11 of the 16 Sweet Sixteen teams intact, and be sitting in the 90th percentile.

Not too shabby when you consider you have a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance of filling out a perfect bracket. That’s 1 billion 9.2 billion times. Cashing in on a Mega Millions jackpot is about 50 billion times easier to win than that. And you’re just about as likely to win it three consecutive times with three different tickets.

How feasible is finding a perfect bracket? It wouldn’t fit inside the universe. If every person on the planet filled out one bracket per second it would take over 688 years to complete all possible combinations. And that stack of paper would reach from the earth to the moon and back 17.6 million times.

Of course, we all know a little bit about basketball, like how a 16-seed over a 1-seed isn’t likely to happen. So factoring in some gimme games you increase your odds of a perfect bracket to 1 in 128 billion.

The odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are 1 in 10,000.

Frightening, huh? That’s because March Madness gives and March Madness takes. We get to see some incredible moments and jaw-dropping upsets, at the expense of our sanity and own self-worth. Moments that will last a lifetime… Just ask any Kentucky fan last season. And maybe ask them again this time next season. There are monumental ups and rock-bottom downs. But I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

23 Comments for How busted is your bracket?



  1. Barry O
    5:02 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    We found something bigger than my deficit! I thought Trillions was as high as I could go!



  2. Smitty4UK
    5:04 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    Did anyone else think the cop was Bill Cosby at first glance?



  3. Roland
    5:09 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    quintillion= (had to google that)
    one followed by 30 zeros
    US and Canadian (one followed by 18 zeros)word= nonillion
    Brit word= trillion

    But there is a “chance”



  4. Bob
    5:10 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    #2. I thought it was Bill Cosby.



  5. Perfect Bracket Odds
    5:11 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    1-9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That is Quintillion.

    Million
    Billion
    Trillion
    Quadrillion
    Quintillion



  6. DB11
    5:13 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    I’m 10/16, because you all care. Damn you Wisconsin!!!



  7. John Ellis
    5:17 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    Dolly Parton should be so busted.



  8. Rise
    5:18 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    I have 11/16. I actually picked Wichita st to make sweet 16. I knew Gonzaga was garbage. Wisconsin killed my bracket



  9. Wildcatsteeler
    5:20 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    I was so disgusted after this season I didn’t even do a bracket.



  10. John
    5:21 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    I couldn’t bare to look at a bracket that didn’t have UK on it.



  11. grammar police
    5:28 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    hey Stuart, ‘s doesn’t make a noun plural. It makes that noun possessive. Cinderella’s means “belongs to Cinderella.”…maybe you should retake ENG 101.



  12. Roland
    5:29 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    My bracket is like the hinge on Osama bin laden’s front gate.



  13. Jimmy
    5:33 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    I wasn’t going to do a bracket this year, but decided to do one last second. Right now my bracket on ESPN is just outside of the top 100,000 and is in the 98.8 percentile. I have 12 of the sweet 16 and still have all of my final four.



  14. tvillian
    5:33 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    its not Bill Cosby



  15. LeX
    5:36 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    Yeah the midwest bracket was really easy to pick and why Im still perfect in it. Oregon was horribly underseeded and St louis was massively overrated. Everyone just drank the koolaid anyway and didnt pay attention to matchups and just assumed that oregon wasnt very good. Honestly Oregon as the 12 seed was probably the easiest 12-5 upset to call probably ever. Feel free to check out my superior bracket.

    http://games.espn.go.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/en/entry?entryID=53460



  16. Dude
    5:38 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    12 of 16 left, not too bad.



  17. Han
    5:39 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    I missed 5 of my Sweet 16 and 1 of my Elite 8.

    I miss the days when I used to be good at this. Had a perfect round 1 (round 2, now).



  18. HillbillyInBC
    5:55 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    It’s usually pretty warm down there. I doubt you would need a Florida Gulf Coat.



  19. not so fast my friend
    6:23 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink


  20. Rae
    6:38 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    Since the Cats aren’t in it, I made four brackets depending on different parameters: a worst case, a best case, a moderately realistic mix and one where Gonzaga won it. The other three had the Zags losing to Southern.



  21. Credit?
    7:43 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    There is no way those numbers were compiled by a KSR writer. Where did you steal those stats from Stuart?



  22. JP in Georgia
    8:02 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    My ESPN bracket is currently ranked 65th



  23. 2Blue4u
    10:14 pm March 26, 2013 Permalink

    So your saying there’s a chance! Woohoo