Living Large in the Madness

There are 9 quintillion brackets possible this year. In fact, there are more if you add the 4 games played before Thursday. That number is so enormous it makes big look small. How big? If you could produce 1 billion unique brackets per second and never repeat any bracket you’ve made, it will take about 300 years to create them all. That’s just this year.

So, the odds of a perfect bracket seem insurmountable. You have to find that 1 bracket in the 9 with 18 zeros after it options. True, but the odds aren’t 1 in 9 quintillion. That assumes you have a 50/50 chance of picking a game. Historically, people pick brackets at about 70% accuracy. Some years are higher and some years lower.

If you assume you have 70% accuracy, then your odds of a perfect bracket drop to 1 in 5.7 billion. Keep in mind, that’s over 50 times less likely than winning Powerball.

If you raise your accuracy by just 1%, your odds drop to 1 in 2.3 billion. That’s why looking for that edge can help. Even if you aren’t perfect, you just narrowed the odds a lot!

Can you find that Cinderella team that no one sees? Can you find the high seed that’s ripe to fall apart?

With about 5,500 games between about 350 teams, where do you look? One place where people often look is the conference tournaments. Who did well and who didn’t?

Be careful. Why? Here’s what data back to 2002 showed us when I worked with data analysts at big data company Tresata where I’m serving as Chief Researcher over my sabbatical year.

Remember, at-large bids didn’t win the conference tournament. While they didn’t, 85% of these teams made —> Read More

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