The cold, cruel reality of your office NCAA bracket pool - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

The cold, cruel reality of your office NCAA bracket pool

Posted: Updated:

(NBC) -- If you put $5 into the office March Madness pool with the hope of creating a perfect bracket, here's a tip: You should have bought a lottery ticket instead.

The odds of picking a perfect bracket in the annual NCAA men's basketball tournament are one in 9.2 quintillion, according to calculations by Jeff Bergen, a mathematics professor at DePaul University.

That's if you're the type of person who picks teams based on whether you like the mascot or fancy the team uniform. The chances get a little better if you actually know something about basketball.

According to Bergen's calculations, a person with a little understanding of team rankings and other data has perhaps a 1 in 128 billion chance of correctly calling every game in the March Madness tournament, which begins in earnest Thursday and runs through April 8.

To put that in perspective, you're still much more likely to be the sole winner of a big lottery jackpot. The odds of being the sole winner of last year's Powerball jackpot were around 175 million to one.

A perfect bracket could be done – but there's no known case of it ever happening.

"If you ran tournaments for 64 billion years, you're eventually going to have someone with a perfect bracket," Bergen said. "But for just a single event, it's highly unlikely."

Of course, you don't need a perfect bracket to win an office March Madness pool. You just need to do better than anyone else in your pool.

Plus, part of the allure of the NCAA tournament is that it is notoriously difficult to predict. That's what gives the office cat lover who might watch basketball twice a year a feeling that he or she just may beat out the fanatic fan who has spent hours watching every game and pouring over every statistic.

Nate Silver, the FiveThirtyEight blogger and data geek who successfully called the presidential election last year, spoke this week about how tough it is to even successfully call a March Madness winner now that there is more parity among the teams.

His incredibly complex formula makes clear just how hard: It only gives his top pick, Louisville, about a one in five chance of winning.

Bergen, the math professor, doesn't fill out March Madness brackets anymore. He said his family used to have a contest where everyone would fill out a bracket and the person who had the worst bracket would have to buy everyone pizza.

"I got tired of buying pizza every year," he said.

Oh, and in case your wondering: A quintillion has 18 zeroes.

  • NewsMore>>

  • CPD hires new communications coordinator after internal job posting

    CPD hires new communications coordinator after internal job posting

    Friday, August 1 2014 6:40 PM EDT2014-08-01 22:40:36 GMT
    It took just four days and an internal-only posting for the City of Chattanooga to find its new communications coordinator for the Chattanooga Police Department. Mayor Andy Berke's former administrative assistant was selected for the job.More
    It took just four days and an internal-only posting for the City of Chattanooga to find its new communications coordinator for the Chattanooga Police Department. Mayor Andy Berke's former administrative assistant was selected for the job.More
  • Students to learn news lessons on distracted driving

    Students to learn news lessons on distracted driving

    Friday, August 1 2014 6:38 PM EDT2014-08-01 22:38:34 GMT
    After a serious texting and driving crash involving a student and a sheriff's deputy earlier this summer, students in McMinn County will be getting an extra lesson on distracted driving when they go back to school next week.More
    After a serious texting and driving crash involving a student and a sheriff's deputy earlier this summer, students in McMinn County will be getting an extra lesson on distracted driving when they go back to school next week.More
  • Erlanger's foreclosure attempts against Hutcheson derailed

    Erlanger's foreclosure attempts against Hutcheson derailed

    Friday, August 1 2014 6:09 PM EDT2014-08-01 22:09:10 GMT
    In a ruling, a Federal Court Judge in Rome agreed with Hutcheson Medical Center and Regions bank to grant the request for an injunction, effectively stopping the foreclosure efforts of Erlanger Health System against Hutcheson.More
    In a ruling, a Federal Court Judge in Rome agreed with Hutcheson Medical Center and Regions bank to grant the request for an injunction, effectively stopping the foreclosure efforts of Erlanger Health System against Hutcheson.More
Powered by WorldNow
Can't find what you're looking for?

WRCB-TV
900 Whitehall Road
Chattanooga, TN 37405
(423) 267-5412

WRCB Jobs EEO | FCC Public Files

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WRCB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.