1 in 1,610,543,269 .
According to statistician Nate Silver , those are the odds that he predicted the outcomes of this year's March Madness games with perfect accuracy.
No fan has ever verifiably completed a perfect bracket. An average March Madness tournament has between 16 and 20 upsets .
In case you're a little behind on your math education: one in one-point-six-billion is not good odds.
For a better chance of picking a winner, let's look to another college sport with a March championship: the Pan-American Collegiate Chess Tournament.
Chess is a good choice for predictability. The first round of this year's "Pan-Am" (featuring 45 teams) resulted in zero upsets .
What accounts for the difference?
First, chess is fundamentally more predictable. The outcome of the game results entirely from the decisions of the players.
One group from Stanford University created a system that can predict individual chess players' wins and losses based on past wins and losses with greater than 85% accuracy . Ranking systems abound, some of which have been generalized to other competitions .
Second, the chess tournament structure itself minimizes randomness.
The Pan-Am is structured as a Swiss-system tournament , which leads to fewer upsets that March Madness's single elimination system.
Single elimination makes for easy to understand brackets, and mathematically " efficient but unfair " outcomes (as compared to "fair but inefficient" league play).
What's harder to measure is the influence of unpredictability on fan enjoyment.
So let us know in the comments: how much do you like being right?