March Madness is coming and that means across the country Fantasy League Commissioners, Lottery Bonus Ball organisers and other office pools aficionados are starting to print off brackets for friends and colleagues to enter.
Those entering vary from those with zero basketball knowledge who simply select their favorite school (based on who they knew that went there) in every match-up to those who have been researching March Madness picks and predictions and subscribing to NCAA Tournament newsletters since January.
Both category of entrants will be dreaming of a perfect March Madness bracket but it may be better to lower expectations as statisticians have revealed that the odds of predicting a perfect bracket are a massive 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1.
That number, which is larger than any that the average non-mathematician has seen written down before, is 9.2 QUINTILLION.
What is a Quintillion?
A Quintillion is a number with 18 zeros. It’s one billion times one billion.
To put the size of that number into context, there are 8 billion people in the world. If we are rounding up and we say (for ease of calculations as we are not all mathematicians) that there are ALMOST 9.2 billion people in the world then every single person on the planet would have to submit one billion March Madness bracket entries in order to cover all eventual outcomes.
It is for this reason that legendary financier Warren Buffett was quite happy to offer $1 billion to anyone who completed a perfect March Madness bracket as he knew the odds were still hugely in his favor.
9.2 Quintillion Compared to Other Measurements
To put that 9.2 quintillion number into some context. Here are some comparisons:
- The smallest standard unit of time is one second. 9.2 quintillion seconds is 21 times the age of our universe
- The smallest standard unit of money is one penny. 9.2 quintillion pennies is 858 times the total world economy
- The smallest standard unit of distance is an inch. 9.2 quintillion inches is 5.8 billion times the circumference of earth.
Things (much) more likely than a Perfect March Madness Bracket
Here is a list of things that are statistically achievable and billions of times more likely than a perfect March Madness bracket
- Bowling a perfect game (odds of 1 in 11,500)
- Making an albatross at golf (odds of 1 in 1 million)
- Dying from tap water (odds of 1 in 5 million)
- Dying from being left handed and using a right handed product incorrectly (odds of 1 in 7 million)
- Having identical quadruplets (odds of 1 in 15 million)
But, this shouldn’t discourage you from entering March Madness brackets as there has never reportedly been a perfect bracket achieved. $1 billion may not necessarily be attainable during March Madness but the average person apparently hits about a 72-75% perfect March Madness bracket, and if you can go above that then you will probably come close to winning your office pool.