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Random Bracket Picking

The NCAA Basketball "Big Dance" is in full swing....with only four teams still in play. Using your great basketball acumen, many of you probably filled out a bracket as part of an "informal" betting pool. But, would you have done just as well by flipping a coin at each decision point, Heads = School A and Tails = School B?

Science Daily once published an article addressing this question, and provided some fascinating information:

  • A person using a coin to randomly complete the full bracket for 65 teams has one chance in more than 18 quintillion of picking the winner in each pairing
  • If every person on Earth could fill out a bracket every second, it still would take about one century to fill out all possibilities
  • If a dollar bill represented each of the possible outcomes, the pile could be laid end-to-end, making a distance equal to two round trips between earth and the big dipper
  • As an analogy, suppose you wanted to hit your home with a bean bag from outer space...your chances of hitting your roof are better than your chances of correctly filling out all the tournament brackets using a coin flips
Don't you just love large numbers! And, I should add that Science Daily also includes an interesting video to accompany their article.

Source: Science Daily, March 1 2006