That Billion Dollar Bracket Thing

If you haven’t heard about Quicken Loans billion dollar bracket challenge then you really need to get out more—honestly, did you even realize March Madness is in full swing? Allow us to fill you in because you clearly need a jolt of current events to propel you into the conversation. Essentially, Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans will give you a billion bucks (yep, billion with a ‘B’) if you fill out a perfect bracket. Let me rephrase that, Buffett and Quicken would have shelled out a billion if there were any perfect brackets left—and we’re only through the first two rounds. Yahoo teamed up with Buffett and Quicken and accepted the first 15 million bracket entries—and chances are they could have gone up to 100 million accepted entries without anyone even getting close to a perfect bracket considering the upsets this year.

What are the odds?

Say, you know nothing about college basketball and only slightly get interested in the days leading up to the madness? Ok, you have a 92 quintillion to 1 chance of beating Buffett at his stunt.
Oh, you’re a basketball nut? According to Jeffrey Bergen, a math professor at DePaul University, your odds improve slightly to: 128 billion to 1.

The point being, Buffett knew what he was doing when he sat down in his office one afternoon and wrote out his plan in the same amount of time it takes most of us eat lunch. “I just sat right in that chair,” he told ESPN’s Rick Reilly in his office, “and I did the calculations. Took me about 10 or 15 minutes. I hope I did it right.”
If he had lost the billion chances are it wouldn’t sting too badly since he’s worth about 53.5 billion.
Since 1998, ESPN has had 30 million entries in their perfect bracket challenge—without a single winner. A day into the tournament, Dayton’s win over Ohio State dwindled the flawless brackets down to 16 percent, and the Mercer’s upset over Duke took the number down to three. Yes, three people out of the millions who still have a perfect bracket. Fast forward to the later games and early on in Friday and every bracket has been busted—Buffett wins again. The only heartening news is the top 20 ‘imperfect’ brackets will receive $100,000

Is this year any different?

Last week, the Washington Post published a very interesting series of charts that broke down the rate of upsets and seed performance throughout each round—and their findings are pretty astonishing. There’s basically no pattern to early round upsets while late-round upsets are getting more rare. The takeaway? You’re not crazy to pick some low seeds to get far, just don’t pick them to win it all.

And then, there’s this guy

After 33 games (his bracket was eventually busted on Sunday) Brad Binder was the only person left with a perfect bracket. The trouble is, Binder neglected to enter any bracket pools. Not Buffett’s billion, not Fox Sports’ million, and not even a paltry office pool. He told ABC news:
“[I just] entered for fun to see what happened. I wish I could give you a better reason why I didn’t enter other than I was rushed and heading to work. Obviously, I didn’t think I’d be where I am now.”

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