Chasing the perfect NCAA bracket

Park Cummings, Reporter

With odds of 1-9.2 quintillion, the illustrious perfect March Madness bracket is highly sought after but has never officially been achieved. For the average person, March is just another month, but for college basketball fans it is the epicenter of all things sports.

The odds of achieving a perfect bracket are so low that billionaire Warren Buffett said he would pay $1 million a year for life to anyone who could successfully fill out a perfect bracket according to Forbes.

There is a better chance winning the Powerball Jackpot, becoming a professional basketball player and getting struck by lightning all combined.

The formula for the perfect bracket varies. With 68 college teams invited to the tournament, there is incredible room for error when predicting winning teams. The perfect strategy boils down to how daring you are going to be when balancing possible upsets.

The best way to decide which upset teams to pick is to research the teams and decide if they have enough star players, good defense and an experienced coach. This is how many less talented teams become the “Cinderella team” during the tournament.

Cinderella teams barely make it into the tournament but upset many powerhouse teams, making it much deeper into the tournament than expected. Some of the most popular Cinderella’s over the past years have been teams such as Florida Gulf Coast, Georgia Tech and Valparaiso.

Some inexperienced people only choose the highest seeded teams to win, but this is almost guaranteed to fail. This strategy will fail for years to come. I can’t count the number of times I have been sitting in class just to check my phone and see the highlights of an underdog team hitting a buzzer-beater and upsetting one of the best teams in the tournament.

In my years of filling out brackets, I have stuck with the “Duke is going to win the championship” mindset. Due to the extensive knowledge of Coach Krzyzewski and their strong recruiting class every year, Duke is often a team I would bet on to win the championship. Other strong competitors include  Oregon, Kentucky, Kansas, Villanova and Michigan State.

This year, some of the strongest teams coming into the tournament are Duke, Michigan State, Purdue and Xavier. It is important to note key players who are ineligible and those who recently became eligible as the team dynamics often shift greatly from the absence or return of certain players.

Arizona’s Alonzo Trier recently became ineligible to play which is a huge blow since he averages nearly 20 points a game. The Wildcats hope to extend their season deep into March.

A key player who recently returned to his team is Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, a highly touted player, considered to be a high draft pick in next year’s NBA draft.

As for actually filling out the bracket, I have found the ESPN Tournament Challenge app to be the best. All you have to do is sign up for an ESPN account and the best part is that it is all free. The interface is very clean and easy to understand.

My favorite part of the app is that you can view the whole bracket, view each team’s specific match ups, and see the expert overviews and predictions. You can create bracket groups with your friends and even join brackets with your favorite celebrities and athletes.