Mar 15, 2023 - Sports

The odds of a perfect March Madness bracket: 1 in 9.2 quintillion

Illustration of basketball as a crystal ball

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Every year, millions of Americans attempt to fill out a perfect bracket. And every year, they fail miserably.

By the numbers: The odds of going 63 for 63 are approximately 1 in 9.2 quintillion, according to the NCAA.

  • Those odds improve to a slightly more "reasonable" 1 in 120.2 billion if you "know a little something about basketball."
  • For context: The odds of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime are 1 in 15,300, according to the National Weather Service.

This is wild ... There are an estimated 7.5 quintillion grains of sand on Earth. If I picked one at random and had you guess which of the 7.5 quintillion grains of sand on the planet it was, your odds of being correct would be 23% better than your odds of picking a perfect bracket.

State of play: Since the NCAA started tracking online brackets in 2016, the closest anyone has come to perfection was in 2019, when an Ohio neuropsychologist nailed the first 49 picks before flaming out in the Sweet 16.

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