Here are some vital stats for filling out those brackets, which just about everyone around Vegas is doing this week.
Perfect Bracket Odds: There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets (9.2 quintillion). That’s the number nine followed by eighteen zeros! That’s one million times bigger than 9 trillion.
Some examples of just how big this number is:
• If everyone on the planet each randomly filled out a bracket, the odds would be over one billion to 1 against any person having a perfect bracket.
• If one bracket per second was filled out, it would take 292 billion years to fill out all possible brackets (that’s 20 times longer than the universe has existed).
• If all the people on earth filled out one bracket per second, it would take over 42 years to fill out every possible bracket.
• All possible brackets on normal paper would circle the globe over 21 million times.
• All possible brackets (on standard paper) would weigh over 184 trillion tons (that’s over 500 million times more than the Empire State Building weighs).
68 vs. 64 teams: The calculations above assume a 64 team bracket – if expanded to consider 68 teams, multiple the figures by 4.
14 Bracket Picking Rules from Vegas!
(all records since modern era began in 1985 unless noted)
First Round picks
• Pick ZERO #1 or #2 seeds to lose. 16 seeds are 0 for 116, 15 seeds are 7 for 116.
• Pick at least one 13 or 14 seed to win. At least one Top 4 seed has lost in the first round 25 of 29 years. 13 and 14 seeds combined win 18% of first round games.
• Don’t be shy picking upsets with 12 through 9 seeds. 12 seeds have won at least one game 23 of 25 years. 9 seeds are 4 wins above .500 vs. 8 seeds.
Second Round picks
• Advance 1 seeds into the third round unless very good reason not to. 88% of 1 seeds advance to the Sweet 16.
• Keep advancing any 12 seeds you picked to win in Round 1. 12 seeds win nearly half the time in Round 2. 12 seeds have more Sweet 16 appearances overall than #7 seeds. A double digit seed has made the Sweet Sixteen 27 of 29 years.
• Pick at least one upset of a 2 or 3 seed. Only once in 29 years have all the top three seeds made the Sweet Sixteen.
• Do not pick any seed worse than 12 to win in the second round. Only 9 of 464 teams (less than 2%) advancing past Round 2 were seeded worse than 12.
Sweet 16 round selection process
• Advance exactly three 1 seeds into the Elite 8. 71% of #1 seeds make the Elite 8 (that’s a higher percentage than 5 seeds that win a single game!).
• Advance no team worse than an 11 seed into the Elite 8. 26 seeds worse than 11 have made it to the Sweet 16 but only one of 232 Elite 8 teams seeded worse than 11.
Elite 8 round picks
• Advance exactly one or two 1-seeds to the Final Four. The Final Four has included exactly one or two 1’s in 23 of 29 years.
• Advance no team worse than a 9 seed to the Final Four. Only 3 of 140 Final Four teams (since 1979) have been seeded worse than 9.
Final Four round picks
• Advance no team worse than a 6 seed to the Championship game. Only one team worse than 6 has made it in the last 28 years.
• Do not advance two 1-seeds to the Championship game. Since tournament seeding began 35 years ago (1979) only 6 times have two 1-seeds made the finals.
Championship game pick
• Pick a 4 seed or better to win it all. For 25 straight years the champion has been a 4 seed or better!
RJ Bell is the founder of Pregame.com - and co-host of FIRST PREVIEW, heard Monday through Friday at 10 am on ESPN 1100/98.9 FM. Follow on twitter: @RJinVegas. Discussion of this article continues at Pregame.com. Contact RJ at [email protected]