March Madness starts next week, which means that basketball fans across the country are starting to think about their brackets. Experts disagree about the best technique for optimizing your chances of winning big, but most agree on one thing — the odds of getting the perfect bracket are slim.
There are a total of 63 games in a March Madness bracket, each with two potential outcomes. If each team had a fair 50 percent chance of winning a game, basic statistics would suggest that there are 263 — or 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 — possible bracket combinations. If a fan selected a bracket at random, they would have a one in 9.2 quintillian chance of having the perfect one.
Of course, each game is not an equal 50/50 toss up, and few fans select their brackets at random. Some teams have significant competitive advantages including stronger players, better team dynamics and smarter coaches, and some fans have superior insight and more clever analysis.
For instance, if you know that a number one ranked team has never lost to a team ranked 16th in the men's tournament, then your bracket would improve. That's why DePaul University math professor Jeff Bergen says your odds are actually closer to one in 128 billion.