Wednesday, November 30, 2011

March Madness (in November)

I'm working on an article previewing the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament. Do you know how hard that is to do in November? I'm going to see what I can do about sharing the byline with Matt because he has been awesomely helpful. He made an outline for me, listed teams and players to highlight, brought me up to speed on recruiting classes and even gave me a great quote defending his opinion that "the first two rounds are the best four days in all of sports."

Since there's only so much you can say about an athletic tournament that won't start for more than three months, I'm focusing some of the article on "bracketology." I have filled out a bracket every year since I was about 12. I remember the big blank bracket being unveiled in the newspaper every year, and I remember my whole seventh-grade social-studies class filling out brackets together. In retrospect, I can think of several ways that could have led to a legitimate lesson, but my social-studies teacher was a coach and a bracket was just a bracket.

Each pick seemed so important. I think I might have believed there was such a thing as a perfect bracket. I also can remember, at about the same age, lying flat on my back in our back yard at night, watching a meteor shower and feeling fairly certain one was going to land on me. That was probably as likely as my completing a perfect bracket, a feat that, according to my research, has never been recorded.

Doc’s Sports Service spells it out: “You are 60 billion times more likely to win the Powerball lottery. Shoot, you are more likely to win the Powerball on consecutive weeks. ... If every person in America – all 300 million – filled a bracket out, the probability of someone winning is .00000000003523. If every person on the planet were to fill out 10 million brackets each, the odds are less than 1 percent that one would have a perfect bracket. If every person on Earth filled out one bracket per second, it would take 43 years to fill out every possible combination.”

Those are some crazy stats. The odds of being struck by lightning in the United States in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. Stay safe.

1 comment:

Ken Loyd said...

I enjoyed this post. Bracketology is much more about probability than social studies. I think March Madness is the best tournament ever devised for the masses because you've always got a chance to get lucky, even if you guess. And remind me to show you the ashes in our backyard where the meteor hit.