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A Perfect Sweet 16 Bracket Hits: What Are the Odds?

Mar 25, 2019 4:19 PM EDT

After 48 games, a single perfect bracket remains.

The bracket, submitted to NCAA.com, called it all. The round of 64 wins by Liberty, Murray State and Wofford and their subsequent losses in the round of 32. All 16 games in the Round of 32 won by the favored team.

It is believed that 39-for-39 had been the best bracket start to a tournament, but that’s now been replaced — in a big way.

Which begs the question: What are the true odds of a perfect bracket to the Sweet 16?

The odds of picking all 48 games correct if each game were a coin flip are 1 in 282 trillion … but they aren’t coin flips.

To find out the answer for this specific bracket, we converted the closing moneyline odds for the winning team to a percentage. (Example: A -200 favorite is implied to win 66.7% of the time.)

Of the 48 games so far this tournament, only five were within 10% of a coin flip (50/50).

In 18 of the games, the teams that won had more than an 80 percent chance of doing so — and in 13 of those games, the eventual winner had a 90%+ chance to advance.

In short, if you feel like this tournament has been short on upsets, you’re not wrong. The is the chalkiest bracket ever, but that doesn’t mean it was easy to go 48-for-48.

To answer our initial question — what are the odds of going 48-for-48 this year? — we simply multiply together each winner’s chance to advance pregame.

The results? 1 in 139,711,674.

The number makes sense. While no one had done it to this point, ESPN, which is the leader in the bracket space, has brought in 114 million brackets in the past 10 years and not one has gotten to the Sweet 16 correct.

That 1-in-139 million is very specific to what happened in this year’s tournament, which has featured a lot of chalk.

For example, if UCF had beat Duke instead of the other way around, the odds of a perfect bracket would have been 1 in 11.3 billion!

To put 1-in-139 million in perspective, you’re 11,000 times more likely to hit a hole-in-one than to have filled out a perfect bracket so far. You’re 12 times more likely to get bitten by a shark,and you’re two times more likely to fill out a perfect bracket than win the Powerball.

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