What Are The Odds Of Getting The NCAA Bracket Right?

There are 64 teams that will play the tournament beginning on Thursday which means 32 contests. Assuming you have a 50-50 chance of guessing the winner in each bracket, that is a 1 in 4,294,967,296 chance.

Getting the first two rounds right puts you in even more elite territory. If you started with the first round you just beat out 4.2 billion other people. If you get the second you beat an additional 65,356 (there are sixteen contests, so you figure 1 / 216). That puts you at one in 2.80701883 × 1014 which is 1 in 280 trillion.

So what are the chances you guess every winner correctly? Under previous years’ rules of just 64 teams, there were a total of 63 contests (32 + 16 + 8 + 4 + 2 + 1) involved in being the champion, which means you would have to guess the right combination of a possible 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 different ways to enter the bracket (that is 2 to the 63rd power).

So What Has Better Odds?

  • The odds of surviving Russian roulette are better: 1 in 64, provided you get to the last empty chamber. (If you continue to play, you still have better odds of survival doing it another half-dozen times).
  • You’d be better off betting that you will roll snake eyes on a pair of dice – 10 times in a row.
  • A better chance of getting hit with a meteor or killed by hail (which happens to one in every 5 million people).
  • You are billions of times more likely to bowl a 300 game (about 1 in 11,000)
  • Win an Olympic gold medal (1 in 662,000)
  • Get a royal flush in a five-card poker hand (1 in 649,739).