For many fans of March Madness the Holy Grail of the NCAA tournament is a perfect bracket. Is 2017 the year, will there be a perfect bracket?

To our knowledge there has never been a perfect bracket filled out electrically on one of the major sites (ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, etc.). Mathematicians disagree on the exact odds but their guesses range from approximately 1-in-5 billion to 1-in-135 billion. If you pretend every game is a coin flip (50/50 probability) the chance of a perfect bracket is 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

How likely is a perfect bracket using the Bracket Simulator? We simulated each game by round 10,000 times assuming the favorite won every game. For example, Gonzaga defeats South Dakota State, then Northwestern, then West Virginia and on until then win the championship over North Carolina in the title game.

Here are the approximate odds that Bet Lab’s bracket is perfect after each round.

After RoundChance
First Round1 in 5,444
Round of 321 in 19,027,792
Sweet 161 in 1,834,603,183
Elite Eight1 in 16,154,201,545
Final Four1 in 60,602,020,470
Title game1 in 95,586,759,321

After the first round, not including the play-in games because they don’t really count, there is a 1-in-5,444 chance that we get all 32 games correct. That seems reasonable. Leicester City won the Premier League in 2016 as 5,000-to-1 longshots. It’s not likely but it’s not improbable.

However, by the time the second weekend roles around things escalate quickly. The chance of getting the Sweet 16 right is roughly 19 million to 1 against and it skyrockets into the billions after that.

If Bet Labs could fill out +95 billion brackets there is a chance we would get one perfect when picking all 63 games. Remember, if your bracket gets busted there is always next year.


2017 NCAA Tournament

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