Is there a method to the madness?


Katie Pulvermacher, Editor-in-Chief

Like 68 million other Americans reported by the American Gaming Association this year, I put my luck into a March Madness bracket. I’m no big sports fan, but for the past two years, I’ve taken part in the madness.

The tournament’s unpredictability makes the competition more enticing to a wider group of people. Bracket competitions arise within families, friend groups and at work. 

It’s common for people who know nothing about college basketball to correctly guess a game’s outcome. This makes the contest both entertaining, but frustrating for the self-proclaimed basketball fanatics in your bracket. 

When it comes time to make your bracket picks, what do you make your picks based off of? Who you truly think will do well? Team stats? Favorite teams? Whatever logo looks cooler?

Because of how random March Madness luck is, some people on TikTok are letting their dogs make their tournament picks. Maybe this is the route to go given that someone’s dog named Piper is winning in my bracket group at work. 

No matter what strategy you use to make your picks, it’s all just luck. Maybe you don’t want to hear that from me, but it’s true.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), no one has ever had a perfect bracket. Mathematically, the chances of picking a perfect bracket are one in 9.2 quintillion. To put that in perspective, a quintillion is the number one followed by 18 zeros. 

The experts at NCAA worked out it’s a 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 chance of winning if you just guess or flip a coin. Or, if you have a bit of basketball knowledge, you have a slightly better chance at 1 in 120.2 billion.

The longest verifiable streak of correct picks in an NCAA tournament bracket was established in 2019 by Gregg Nigl of Columbus, Ohio with a streak of 49. He correctly predicted the tournament into the Sweet 16. He broke the previous record streak of 39 that was set in 2017.

This year, the last verifiably perfect men’s NCAA bracket busted on the 25th game when No. 16 FDU stunned No. 1 Purdue. It’s not a shock that most people chose Purdue to win – this was only the second time in men’s history that a 16 seed beat a 1 seed. 

In 2022, all verifiable brackets busted on the first Friday of the tournament when No. 11 Iowa State upset No. 6 LSU, 59-54. 

For some, a money incentive is what’s needed to join in the madness.

According to the American Gaming Association, it’s estimated a total of $15.5 billion will be wagered in this year’s March Madness. 

Just remember that next time you wager a portion of your paycheck, the chances of winning are dramatically low. Don’t let that take away from the fun, though.