Perfect bracket is impossible

Cole Schmitt, Online Editor-in-Chief

Making a prediction and submitting it into a challenge or even multiple is a long-time tradition with the men’s competition. If you’re like me, the first thing you think of when you’re finished picking your teams is “I feel like this bracket could be perfect.” Well, I’m here to break the news to you, it’s not, and it never will be.

There are 63 total games played in the tournament — not including the first four, play-in matches. According to, the odds when you enter to have a perfect bracket is one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s if you “flip a coin on every game.” If you “know a little something about basketball” they project your odds to be one in 120.2 billion. So, whether you know basketball or not, you probably won’t be earning the million dollar prize for having a perfect bracket.

There were 16.2 million people in the ESPN Tournament Challenge this year, which is the main site for the game picking. This popular site event lets people who don’t know a lot about basketball get in on the challenge and have as good a chance as anyone. A couple years ago, the winner of the bracket challenge was a mom who picked teams based on their “color schemes.” If that doesn’t tell you how up in the air the tournament is, I don’t know what will.

That’s why the tournament is called “March Madness,” because like the name says, it’s utter chaos with any team having shot at the championship.

That’s also why the tournament is so popular, because it’s full of craziness and excitement for everyone who doesn’t have a clue of what’s going to happen. 

The longest standing perfect bracket was by Gregg Nigl in 2019, a man who picked the first 49 games correctly, leaving 14 games left before a wrong pick. A big reason for this was the 2019 tournament had the best seeding in the sweet 16 ever at 3.3 compared to in 2021 where it’s 5.5. 

Many people have their champions right, their final four right, and some even have their elite eight right. But the most troubling part is picking the Cinderella teams. The Florida Gulf Coast and the Oral Roberts, who are 15 seeds, made it to the sweet 16. Or even the 16 seeded UMBC who beat the number one overall team in the tournament in 2019, the Virginia Cavaliers.

With all of these factors, we’re never going to see someone pick a complete perfect bracket. If we do see it happen, don’t bet on it happening again.