March Madness mania- the Highs and Lows

1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. Also known as 1 in 9.2 quintillions. That’s the odds of a perfect bracket if every team has a 50/50 chance of winning in March. 

March Madness is the epitome of chance when it comes to sports. Upsets are the norm, and that hasn’t changed over the 83 years the tournament has been played. These odds lend themselves to making a perfect bracket pretty tough. It’s estimated that with a little basketball knowledge, the odds are more feasible: 1 in 120 billion. 

Even with the lower odds, there still has never been a perfect bracket. This year, like every year, millions of people filled out a bracket for the big dance. According to Sports Illustrated, 60-100 million brackets get filled out each March. 

Of those millions of brackets, many are filled out by students here at East Grand Rapids. One of those students is Colin Davies ‘23, an avid March Madness fan. 

“March Madness is my favorite part about March, besides Tom Izzo,” Davies said. 

Davies is similar to many students at East considering his love for both March Madness and Tom Izzo, the head basketball coach of Michigan State. 

“Every year, I am always organizing bracket groups with my friends, a group with my family, and a group for my dad’s work,” Davies said. “I’ve finished in the top three the past two years and am currently in first place this year as well,” Davies said.

Bracket challenges are also made frequently at the high school. Mrs. Elderkin’s math classes have a collective challenge against one another. 

“Mrs. Elderkin’s bracket challenge is unique because there is a reward for both the best bracket, and the worst bracket,” Alex Thole ‘24 said. 

The two rewards have prompted students to fill out one bracket that they try to get right, and another where they try to pick what won’t happen in the tournament, neither of which is an easy feat. 

Mrs. Elderkin is one of several bracket groups at East. 

“This year I also participated in a yearbook bracket challenge,” Davies said. “ I usually fill out about 10 brackets each year,” Davies said.

Some of Davies’ bracket groups give a reward to the first-place winner, similar to Mrs. Elderkin’s group.

“For my dad’s work pool we usually do a $10 buy-in for around 200 people and 1st place gets about $800, 2nd place $500, and 3rd place $200,” Davies said. 

Some groups don’t make the prize money-related.

“For my family’s challenge, the winner gets to choose dinner,” Davies said.

Even though most bracket group winners receive an award, one of Davies’ groups operates differently. 

“For the bracket challenge with my friends, we tend to do a punishment for last place instead of a reward for the winner,” Davies said. 

Of the over 20 million brackets that were filled out this year, none of them made it past the second day after 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson University beat 1-seed Purdue University. So, whether you fill out one bracket or 25, don’t get your hopes up.