What Are the Odds of a Perfect March Madness Bracket?
Your march madness bracket is busted. Everyone’s is.
Despite millions upon millions of brackets filled out year after year, no one has ever struck pay dirt by correctly picking all 64 winners in the NCAA 2022 men’s basketball tournament. The Law of Large Numbers remains undefeated ever since the NCAA expanded the tournament to 64 teams in 1984.
It could be worse. If all teams were equally matched, the true odds of picking every game correctly would be two to the power of 64 (263) — which is a stupidly Big Number. Spelled out, that’s 1/9,223,372,036,854,775,808— or 9 quintillion to one against.
But not all games are a coin flip. Like how Sun Belt champs Georgia State were fed to Gonzaga as first-round sacrificial lambs. The Zags’ -20000 moneyline carried with it an implied win percentage around 96 percent. On the other hand, massive upsets happen — such as the +1550 underdogs St. Peter’s Peacocks’ stunning 85-79 take-down of the No. 2 seed Kentucky Wildcats.
Calculating the Perfect Bracket Parlay
So what are the actual odds of a perfect march madness bracket? The answer is it depends on the bracket. So we’re keeping a running tally for the longest longshot in all off sports betting — the perfect March Madness predictions. Spoiler alert: after Round One we’re roughly about 16-million-to-one odds, but let’s look at how we got there, leading first with the tournament’s biggest underdog and giant killer, the Peacocks.
St. Peter’s Soars in East Region Odds
In the 32 opening-round games, nine were won outright by underdogs. (One was a pick ’em.) But no other winning dog came close to St. Peter’s 18½-point handicap victory. In fact, no other underdog advanced into the second round in the East Region.
St. Peter’s +1550
Murray State -135
St. Mary’s -145
North Carolina -170
An all-East eight-leg parlay paid out at a whopping +15596 odds thanks to the Peacocks. That’s more than three times more improbable than the outcome of the next-highest region, the West.
Spartans, Aggies and Notre Dame Cash as West Region Underdogs
Led in the West Region by the New Mexico State Aggies, a trio of underdogs advanced to the second round.
The 12-seed Aggies won outright as 6½-point underdogs over fifth-seeded Connecticut, 70-63. Play-in 11-seed Notre Dame sent Alabama packing, 78-64. And Michigan State edged out Davidson 74-73. Despite being the higher seed in the 7-10 contest, sportsbooks still had the Spartans as slight 1½-point underdogs at close.
New Mexico State +230
Notre Dame +165
Michigan State +105
Texas Tech -1700
The West region parlay bears the “gimme” -20000 opening-round odds of Gonzaga and overpriced Duke at -4000, but a winning eight-teamer from the West ultimately paid out at +4484.
Bluejays, Hurricanes, Cyclones and Spiders Fly into Midwest Second Round
In the Midwest region, four underdogs advanced to the second round. The 11-seed Iowa St. Cyclones beat out LSU; the Creighton Bluejays overcame San Diego State in a 8-9 battle; and 10-seed Miami Hurricanes topped USC — all short underdogs on the March Madness odds board. The biggest upset was produced by No. 12 seed Richmond over Iowa.
Iowa State +155
Out of the Midwest came Kansas, the second-largest chalk of the tournament’s opening round. All told, the correct eight-team Midwest parlay cashed at +18449.
Favorites Dominate South Region Opening Round
One of the South region’s opening-round matchups (Loyola Chicago-Ohio State) closed as a pick ’em, but only one of the other seven games went in favor of the underdog. Ninth-seeded TCU was catching just 1½ points when they blew Seton Hall off the court 69-42.
No. 11 seed Michigan looked on paper as an upset when they beat six-seed Colorado State 75-63 in their opener. But oddsmakers disregard seedings and installed the Wolverines as 1½-point favorites.
Otherwise, moneyline winners in the South broke exactly along the chalk, headlined by Arizona’s -10000 price tag against play-in Wright State.
Ohio State -110
A perfect South region parlay paid out at a relatively modest +1079.
First-Round Perfect March Madness Bracket Parlay Odds
Calculating the odds for all four regions sends things into the stratosphere — stringing together odds of 11-, 34-, 156- and 184-to-1.
Not surprisingly, no bracket this season survived the first round. One of the largest organizers of bracket pools, CBS Sports, reported late Friday that the last perfect bracket in their March Madness pool broke. Out of their millions of entries, only two correctly picked 31 of the 32 games after the first round. One entry picked Kentucky over St. Peter’s, while another, ironically, picked that upset but miscalled Boise St. over Memphis.
And despite millions of entries, no one swept the first-round perfect bracket, this season measuring at a 0.00000006% chance per entry. That 32-team, bank-breaking mega-parlay would pay out at $15,735,040.96 on a one-dollar bet.
But after we add on second-round action, that will seem like chump change.