March Madness Bracket Probabilities & Odds: Expert NCAA Bracket Analysis


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March Madness Odds: Best Odds To Win National Championship

For many, the most common way to enjoy the NCAA basketball tournament is by filling out a bracket. March Madness consists of four regions — East, South, Midwest, and West — each with 16 teams. In the bracket, you’ll select the winners for each matchup leading up to your championship pick. 

Before we dive into the first round of the NCAA Tournament starting on Thursday, we still have two First Four games on Wednesday to determine a No. 10 and No. 16 seed. Below, we’ll look at the latest March Madness odds, why building a perfect bracket is next to impossible, and more. 

Updated March Madness odds

Odds for St. Peter’s vs. Tennessee might not show up on certain odds boards due to college basketball betting rules in your state.

Bracket probabilities: Can you build a perfect bracket?

There’s a reason why, for so long, Warren Buffett was offering $1 billion to anyone who could fill out a perfect bracket — it’s an incredibly difficult feat to accomplish. According to the NCAA, the odds of creating a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 if you’re strictly guessing or 1 in 120.2 billion if you have some background knowledge. 

Here’s a look back at the five most recent tournaments and when the last verifiably perfect bracket busted each time, also according to NCAA.com

YearResult
2023Busted when Fairleigh-Dickinson beat Purdue in the Round of 64.
2022Busted when No. 11 Iowa State beat No. 6 LSU. 
2021Busted by the 28th game of the tournament. 
2020 No tournament due to COVID-19
2019 Gregg Nigl predicted the first 49 games correctly, but his bracket was busted in the Sweet Sixteen when Purdue beat Tennessee. He had a perfect bracket through two rounds. 
2018 Busted when No. 16 UMBC beat No. 1 Virginia in the Round of 64.

Why is a perfect bracket so hard?

Spoiler alert: Building a perfect bracket is hard and borderline impossible. There are 64 teams after the First Four games, meaning there are 63 games that you need to accurately predict while also not knowing if any injuries will occur. 

Over the years, there have been several massive upsets. In 2023, No. 1 Purdue, a team favored to win the entire tournament, lost to a No. 16 seed in Fairleigh-Dickinson. There was another No. 16 upset in 2018 with UMBC. There have also been several No. 15 upsets over No. 2 seeds. 

Potential bracket busters

Stetson vs. UConn

Longwood vs. Houston

Wagner vs. North Carolina

South Dakota State vs. Iowa State

Why picking underdogs in brackets could hurt you

As mentioned, picking the perfect bracket is difficult, but creating a strong bracket is possible with some strategy. Sure, there are numerous underdog stories we can point to. While they seemingly have happened more recently, it’s important not to go into the tournament solely through the lens of picking underdogs. The same is also true for picking favorites. 

There are bound to be some upsets. According to NCAA.com, there are roughly 8.5 upsets per year. The most was 14 in 2021 and 2022, and the fewest was three in 2007. As the tournament advances, the upsets become fewer and farther between. 

RoundAverage upsets
First round4.65
Second round3.13
Sweet Sixteen0.26
Elite Eight0.31
Final Four0.10

There are certainly those outliers, like Saint Peter’s, which went to the Elite Eight two years ago, but overall, these Cinderella teams do eventually get bounced. 

Remember, the perceived good teams are also advancing and are there for a reason. In basketball, any team can have a poor shooting night, but if you first determine which team you think will win each region, this is a solid place to start and then build your bracket from there. 

Again, no bracket will likely ever be perfect as that’s essentially impossible, but we are aware that upsets are far more rare after we get into the Sweet Sixteen.