The billion-dollar blues

By BRIAN WINDSCHITL
On April 1, 2014

Let me first say that I am in no way a "bracketologist." My expertise of March Madness includes skimming the match-up overviews that pop up on my computer with the click of a button as I sit and pick my tourney winners.

I, as they say, dabble in college basketball.

But this year, my interest in March Madness increased exponentially when Quicken Loans teamed up with Warren Buffett to offer $1 billion to whoever can somehow craft the mythological perfect bracket.

Now, I may not be the most enthusiastic, well-versed fan of college basketball, but I would definitely not be complaining about an extra billion dollars in my ever-dwindling bank account. I knew I had to try and go for it. Why not? A billion dollars is nothing to joke about.

And so, like millions of others, I joined the "Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge" with the high hopes of adding some extra weight to my wallet.

First game rolls around, Ohio State versus Dayton. Dayton wins. My bracket loses. Dayton gets a dream win, and my dreams get crushed. First game. First round.

Now, obviously, I had not expected to get that far, but having my bracket eliminated in the first game was just too much.  

After Ohio St. lost, I actually looked up my chances of actually winning the big money. The odds: 9.2 Quintillion to one. Quintillion, seeming like a nonsensical made-up number, is actually 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. That is 17 zeros. It is 20 times more likely to get hit by lightning three times in a year, than it is to predict a perfect bracket.

Clearly, those odds were too much for anyone to overcome. And I believe those ridiculous odds will keep a perfect bracket from ever emerging. Those chances make picking a perfect bracket the stuff of sports fan legend.

My conviction of this was only compounded when I proceeded through March Madness, and observed upset after upset after upset. A standout year for upset victories, I watched Stanford and Dayton make it to the Sweet 16. I saw Duke get naenae'd on. The unpredictability, excitement and potential for upsets in every game - that's the magic of March Madness, and the downfall of wannabe bracketologists.

With 64 teams still playing, there was only a handful of perfect brackets left. At the end of that round, it was reported that all remaining perfect brackets were gone. How could something that seems so simple be so impossible?

Though the odds of winning were not exactly in my favor, I couldn't help but enter the bracket. Warren Buffett has said he would continue his contest next year, too, so I will probably do this all over again. The chance to win $1 billion dollars is tempting to deny.

But it's 9.2 quintillion to one. Those are the statistics. Just based on that number, the "perfect bracket" is just a pot of gold that we will always be chasing after at the end of the rainbow. That's part of the fun though. It's the ultimate pipedream: Pick a perfect bracket and be financially set for life. There is a certain charm in chasing after something that seems surely impossible.

And, hey, everyone could use a pot of gold.

 

email: brian.windschitl@ubspectrum.com


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