Somebody, somewhere, somehow calculated the odds of completing a perfect NCAA tournament bracket at 1 in 9.2 quintillion. A quintillion is a billion billion, or 1 followed by 18 zeroes. Numerically represented, the odds of perfection are 1 in 9,200,000,000,000,000,000.
This year, again, no one is going to beat those overwhelming odds. After the end of the first-round games in the 2018 NCAA tournament, no perfect brackets remain among the millions of brackets that were submitted in the five major NCAA tournament challenges sponsored by the likes of ESPN and CBS. Virginia’s shocking loss to the University of Maryland Baltimore County — the first time in NCAA tournament history that a number 16 seed beat a number 1 seed — knocked out the few remaining perfect brackets. Virginia’s loss probably caused a lot of people to toss their office pool brackets into the trash can, too. (Two of my friends are diehard Virginia fans. As a Cleveland sports fan, I can imagine the excruciating mental anguish they are experiencing right now and am deeply sympathetic.)
At the other end of the spectrum, one ESPN bracket challenge entrant managed to achieve a different kind of perfection — going 0-20 in the first 20 games. Alas, his or her bid for reverse perfection went awry when Nevada beat Texas.
The NCAA tournament is a fun time for both serious and casual sports fans, and I think it’s a good thing for the country, too. In a country as large and diverse as America, there aren’t many unifying events, but the NCAA tournament, and the submission of office pools and pick sheets, is one of them. Just don’t expect perfection.