March Madness is almost here, and this will be your year. You know everyone on every team, you know the coaches’ win-loss records, you even factored in who’s traveling to the games.
Now take all that knowledge and pack it away for pub trivia night, because a University of Michigan researcher just proved that all your hard work won’t win the office pool.
You’re better off flipping a coin than carefully selecting each NCAA winner, according to Dae Hee Kwak, an assistant professor of sport management.
"A grandmother who's never seen a game has a similar chance of doing as well as her grandson who spends eight hours a day watching and researching basketball," Kwak says.
During the 2012 season, Kwak’s coin-flipped picks outperformed the study participants’ careful brackets — three times.
But most of the more than 100 million people who make NCAA basketball brackets every season won’t listen to Kwak’s evidence because of the illusion of control theory and overestimation. In the first round of picks, the players who picked their own brackets were more confident — which led to them making bets up to 2.6 times higher than players with low confidence. But confidence level didn’t translate into winning.
Whether or not you’re willing to give up your “system,” take comfort in the highly unlikely odds you’re facing: 1 in 128 billion for 63 perfect game predictions, way lower than the odds of hitting the lottery. Last year, Warren Buffet created a frenzy with his $1 billion offer for a perfect bracket, but the closest anyone came on ESPN.com was still 18 games off.