1 in 355 billion

According to Brad Null, those are the odds of any one individual picking a perfect bracket – 63 for 63 – in this year’s NCAA men’s tournament. We all knew the odds were *extremely* low. But such infinitesimal odds make me much less excited about the whole notion. It’s really just a publicity stunt for Buffett (I know he doesn’t need it; but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want it). Assuming fifteen million people participate, Null estimates that there is a one in half a million chance that someone will run the table. Click on the link above for the calculations.

Yes, there are more important things to get upset about (come to think of it, that could be the name of this blog). But I am a bit outraged, to be honest. Why not put a billion dollars down on whomever comes closest to predicting the timing when the big comet slams into the earth, knocking us out of our orbit?

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4 comments

  1. (1) To take the comet bet, the billionaire would have to be able to make a credible commitment to pay off in the aftermath.

    (2) The obvious strategy by Buffett is a plan to hedge. If someone is perfect through the round of eight or four, they’d likely be happy to withdraw their bracket in exchange for something like $10M cash in hand.

    1. Mike Greenberg asked Buffett about this deal-or-no-deal scenario last week. The terms were – if someone reached the final 4 with a perfect bracket intact, would it be possible to offer him or her a quarter of billion to walk away. Buffett said he hadn’t thought of that, but would consider something like it.

  2. I think you have an error and mean to say that the odds are one in half Trillion, not million. That would make the odds very much worth playing.

    1. The odds of winning for an individual, submitting a single bracket, are one in 355 billion (others calculate it at 1 in a hundred billion or whatever. But essentially impossible in any case). The odds of there being any winner at all in the entire field of players is, according to Null, one in half a million.

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