Better Chance At Perfect March Madness Bracket Or Powerball Jackpot?

Written By Nicole Russo on March 13, 2022
perfect march madness bracket

Selection Sunday is here! 68 teams will be selected to participate in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and over 40 million people will fill out a tournament bracket hoping to come close to a perfect March Madness bracket.

Whether you are filling out a bracket amongst friends or participating in a paid bracket contest, what are the real odds of scoring a perfect bracket?

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The Odds Of A Perfect March Madness Bracket

Every person wants to be the one who can claim they finally hold the perfect March Madness bracket. While it is technically possible to fill out a perfect bracket, the odds are more than astronomical.

There’s a reason there has never been a perfect bracket in the history of the tournament.

So, what does the math look like? If you were to simply flip a coin for each matchup and let fate decide, the odds of getting a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

Of course, your odds improve the more you equip yourself with knowledge of the matchups, tournament history, and a basic understanding of the sport. If you factor in hours of watching games, studying the players, and researching the matchups beforehand, your odds improve to 1 in 120.2 billion.

Bracket Math

Let’s take it back to high school math class. It all comes down to exponents.

The NCAA tournament selects 68 teams for March Madness, but four games take place before the first round. These games don’t count in standard brackets. That leaves us with 64 teams and 63 games in your traditional bracket.

With two different outcomes per game, we are left with 2^63, which is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance.

Again, your odds drastically improve when you factor in even the most minuscule research on the teams and the tournaments, but it’s still a very unlikely feat.

You have a much greater chance of winning Powerball (1 in 292 million) or being struck by lightning twice (1 in 9 million). To put that in perspective, your odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 411 times better than the improved odds with research of a perfect bracket of 1 in 120.2 billion.

Over 70 Million Brackets Filled Out Annually

Those astronomical odds will not stop us from filling out a bracket this year. Most likely we will fill out more than one.

According to the American Gaming Association, Americans alone bet $2 billion on 70 million March Madness brackets in 2015, and that number has stayed pretty consistent over the past few years. To put that into perspective, more brackets were filled out than votes cast for either presidential candidate in the 2012 election.

The study found that the average person will complete two brackets and that the average cost per bracket is around $29. In addition to that, half of March Madness viewers had filled out a bracket at some point in their life.

With legal sports betting now available in over thirty states, that number is likely to rise. Online sportsbooks host a variety of free bracket competitions each year with huge prize pools up for grabs.

Once the Selection Show ends, keep a lookout for a variety of different bracket pool promotions from your favorite sports betting operators.

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Written by
Nicole Russo

Nicole Russo is the Brand Content Strategist for TheLines.com. Previously, she covered the gambling industries in Tennessee and Indiana as a content editor for PlayTenn.com and PlayIndiana.com. She comes from the world of poker, leading the marketing efforts for online poker in Nevada and New Jersey with the WSOP. Russo also assisted with the marketing efforts for the Caesars Sportsbook launch in 2019.

View all posts by Nicole Russo