NCAA tournament bracket stakes are high, but your odds are not

By: Zach Berridge Email
By: Zach Berridge Email
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. As always, the start of March Madness in NCAA basketball has had watchers glued to their TV's and computers, but they aren't just rooting for their team or enjoying the competition. It's about the brackets and this year, some pretty lucrative prizes.

Every year stakes are high among tournament bracket hopefuls, but it seems the rewards grow with each March.

With millions of dollars being offered by various businesses and organizations, including a whopping $1 billion from business mogul Warren Buffett, interest in make 68 perfect picks has never been higher.

"I guess i'll go with Louisville since that's what the computers are doing," said CMU professor of Mathematics Dr. Erik Packard.

Packard didn't have an entry this year, but he has developed his own formula to help determine a game's outcome- a tool that can help narrow the selection.

"They're going to give weight to teams that play tough schedules," Packard said. "There's two things, there's rankings that would rank Wichita State a little bit higher and then there's power which would put Louisville higher."

Of course a computer formula can only be an aide and can only factor in numbers and past events, but there's much more to it.

"There's so many things you can't measure with a computer. Is Louisville hot? Is Louisville experienced from last year? Are there teams that are limping in and don't expect to do well and have a bad attitude? These are all things you can't measure with a computer."

The odds of picking each game correctly? According to Packard, even with a 60% probability of guessing each contest, is a very conservative 100-trillion to one.

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