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The odds of a perfect NCAA tournament bracket

1:24 PM, Mar 19, 2013   |    comments
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Chris Chase, USA TODAY Sports

If you're holding out hope that this is the year you're finally going to break through and get that perfect NCAA tournament bracket, you may need to wait a while. Like, a few billion years.

The odds of you filling out a perfect bracket this year are a staggering 1 in 9.2 quintillion. That's a nine with 18 zeroes or 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 if you're not into the whole rounding thing.

See where SLU, Mizzou and Illinois are seeded

How big is that?
• That's one billion, 9.2 billion times.
• It's 500,000 times more than our $17 trillion national debt.
• You'd have a better chance of hitting four holes-in-one in a single round of golf.

The 1 in 9.2 quintillion number is straight mathematics. It figures out how many possible ways the 63 game results on your bracket could be filled out. (Two to the sixty-third power.)

But it doesn't account for standard basketball logic, like No. 1 seeds always advancing in the first round or tournament champions usually having a top-four seed or Duke's dual advantage of having a legend like Coach K and never getting called for a blocking foul. If you know something about the NCAA tournament, the odds of a perfect bracket are more like 1 in 128 billion. (That's according to DePaul math professor Jay Bergen.)

Using that number, if everyone in the United States filled out a bracket, we'd see a perfect one every 400 years. 

USA TODAY Sports

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