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march madness bracket math

Are you ready for some March Madness math problems?


Are you ready for some March Madness math problems?


Are you ready for the madness?

The NCAA national basketball tournament has begun and March Madness is sweeping the nation.

The tournament is most known for its enormous bracket that widdles down 64 competing colleges and universities to one single champion. 

And, like many people, you and your kids love filling out a bracket in an effort to predict as many winners as possible.

Barack Obama fills out a bracket every year.

Barack Obama fills out a bracket every year.

Even former president Barack Obama fills out a bracket every year.

With seemingly infinite amount of possible results to the tournament, celebrating March Madness and all of its mathematical components with your kids is a great way to boost engagement and teach math in a real-world context.


Some fun March Madness math problems for you to share with kids include:

What are the odds of a perfect March Madness bracket if games are chosen at random?

How can you improve your odds of choosing a perfect bracket?

Based on probability, what events are more likely to occur than picking a perfect bracket?

Is a perfect bracket even possible? (check out the video below)


Picking the correct winner of all 63 tournament games is certainly possible, but insanely, off-the-charts improbable.

In fact, the odds of picking a perfect bracket in the NCAA men's basketball tournament are, at worst, 1 in 9.2 Quintilian! 

And, at best, 1 in 128 billion, according to Jeff Bergen, a probability expert from DePaul University.

See Also: Teaching Math Through Major League Baseball

There's a better chance that...

With the odds of picking a perfect bracket so astronomically high, what events are more likely to occur? 

Becoming an Astronaut: 1 in 600


Being Injured by a Toilet: 1 in 10,000


Bowling a Perfect Gam: 1 in 11,500


Winning an Olympic Gold Medal: 1 in 662,000


Getting Struck by Lightening This Year: 1 in 960,000


Becoming President of the United States: 1 in 10,000,000


Being Killed by a Falling Coconut: 1 in 250,000,000


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By Anthony Persico

Anthony is the content crafter and head educator for YouTube's MashUp Math and an advisor to Amazon Education's 'With Math I Can' Campaign. You can often find me happily developing animated math lessons to share on my YouTube channel . Or spending way too much time at the gym or playing on my phone.