March Madness–is there any Method in it?


Olivier Douliery

Two important Americans from very different backgrounds, Pres. Obama and financial guru Warren Buffett, have one thing at least in common: March Madness.

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Have you ever thought that you are completely terrible at filling out March Madness brackets? Don’t worry, millions of people feel the same way–including this reporter.

This year’s bracketology has provided us basketball fans with several exciting (or just frustrating) losses and upsets very early on. The possible biggest upset of the tournament so far was number fourteen-ranked Mercer beating number three Duke, which provided several flashbacks of last years big upset of number fifteen Florida Gulf Coast over number two seed Georgetown.

As of press time, there are no perfect brackets left from mega-wealthy investor Warren Buffett’s “Billion Dollar Bracket” challenge or ESPN’s Tournament Challenge app. After the round of 64 there were only 3.7% of the brackets filled out for the “Billion Dollar Bracket” left standing (possibly correct) and by the end of the round of 32 there were simply none left.  It seems possible that perhaps Buffett is making the point that playing the stock market is actually a safer bet than trying to predict college basketball.

Many people have been reduced to simply keeping track of how badly they are doing, but since everyone is doing poorly, it doesn’t seem to have done any real damage to enthusiasm for the Tournament.  Students here at IRHS have even been known to skip classes to try to see their favorite team’s televised games.

President Barack Obama, in contrast to many, has done very well, with all four of his Final Four picks all advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.  To put this into perspective the chances of you filling out a perfect bracket are 1 in  9,223,372,036,854,775,808 which turns out to be 9.2 quintillion. according to you have a better chance of being struck by lighting(1 in 3,000), winning the MegaMillions(1 in 258.9 million), winning the PowerBall(1 in 175.2), getting a hole in one in golf(1 in 12,500), and bowling a perfect game(1 in 11,500).

The odds, and the frustration, are only likely to get worse in the future as the NCAA keeps expanding the number of eligible teams.  It basically becomes impossible, even for people who are paid to watch and know the teams, like professional sportscasters and commentators.  For an average fan to even know anything about so many teams may be crossing the line into plain old “impossible.”