Thursday, March 20, 2008



There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 ways to fill out your NCAA Men's basketball bracket. It's true. Look.

So if you were ever wondering how ESPN and CBSsportsline can offer those million dollar prizes to anyone who goes 64 for 64, the reason is because the odds against doing so are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1. Not exactly sure how that would show up as a Vegas line, but needless to say, the chances of you going perfect are not so good.

I'd give you my picks but I haven't completed my bracket yet. Also, as has been well documented in this forum, I am quite possibly the worst prognosticator in the history of sports, going 0 for 2 in my mortal locks picks in the history of this website (ie, taking the Rockies to beat the goggle-disporting Red Sox, and implying that it was out of the realm of possibility for Tom Brady to lose a football game), so you're probably better off allowing Maggie the Monkey to make your binary selections for you.

In any event, today puts us smack-dab into the heart of the least productive week in North American history. With the entire Irish-American-Canadian population taking the afternoon off to get completely wasted on Green beer and Guiness on Monday afternoon and nursing the subsequent freight train hangover on Tuesday, the chances are pretty good that most of us spent Wednesday poring over sports websites and blogs in order to catch up on a year's worth of College Basketball so we can pretend to know what we're talking about while filling out our brackets, leading beautifully into today, which will see most of the civilized world spending 24 out of the next 36 hours watching the greatest sporting event on the planet to finish off the week while trying in vain to talk our significant others into the notion that Jesus died so we could watch Billy Packer and Gus Johnson... (cowering from impending lightning bolt...)

All you need to know for today is that Gus Johnson is in Denver. Judging by this set of clips, I think it's pretty safe to say that the best games in College Basketball seem to follow Gus around.

Enjoy the tourney.


Anonymous said...

I hate to be the math and statistics nerd of the crowd, but I don't think your odds calculation is entirely correct. For that to be the case, the probability of teams winning each game would have to be exactly even, which obviously isn't the case. If it was, the need for seeding of teams wouldn't be necessary. If you were able to accurately calculate the probability of each team winning their respective games (which is impossible, unless you are Biff Tannen and managed to get a hold of that sports almanac fron 2015), then you could take a shot at coming up with appropriate odds. Either way, it's probably not a bet anyone should be lining up to make.

I'll just go back to reciting Pi, studying baseball stats and repelling women. That is all.


Anonymous said...

I'll share my successful theory on brackets - don't go with who you think is going to win. Actually, I'll rephrase - unless your pick is an outlier (non-popular), don't go with you think will win.

You've got to pick an outlier for the eventual champion and then find out how they would get there.

You know how many people have picked UNC or UCLA to win it all this year? If you're among that group, you have to have amazing knowledge of the lower-ranked teams to pick the early upsets or else you have to get really lucky.

Pick someone like Georgetown or Louisville to win it this year. If they win, you're almost a shoe-in. You have to be willing to stick through the embarrassment when you end up so far behind everyone as your final four don't make the elite 8 most years, but I've had the fortune of winning a couple of brackets this way - and winning the odd one while finishing last most of the time is better to me than finishing mid-pack every year because your picks look like everyone else.