The longest (verifiable) streak of correct selections in a group of ncaa tournaments to start the beloved march madness tournament is 49, a streak that was established in 2019.
an ohio man correctly predicted the entire 2019 ncaa tournament in the sweet 16, something we haven’t seen in years of tracking publicly verifiable online march madness groups in every major game.
Reading: Any perfect brackets left 2018
In 2021, multiple monumental upsets saw all remaining perfect brackets busted in game 28. That, of course, follows 2020, when COVID-19 forced the NCAA tournament to be cancelled.
Prior to the 2019 ncaa tournament, the longest streak of correct picks we had seen in a march madness group was 39 games, achieved in 2017.
then columbus’s gregg nigl broke that record with his briefly famous ncaa tournament “center road” in the capital one ncaa marching madness challenge, which correctly predicted the first 49 games of the 2019 tournament before passing in game 50, when 3-seed Purdue beat 2-seed Tennessee 99-94 in overtime of Game 2 in the Sweet 16.
nigl, a neuropsychologist from columbus, ohio, became the first verified group to successfully make it to sweet 16.
with over three decades of online and paper brackets to review (the current format has been around since 1985) and with between 60 million and 100 million completed brackets each year, it’s quite possible that someone, somewhere, has Made Better Determining an official record is made even more difficult by the fact that online games have only recently started keeping full records.
We’ve been tracking 20-25 million online brackets per year across a half-dozen major games since 2016 using public leaderboards in combination with direct reporting and data collection with those games. prior to 2016, we rely on those game reports and online archives for the best information available.
Until this year, we were unable to find verified brackets that were perfect in the sweet 16. There was a widely reported case of a group that was perfect in two rounds in 2010, but there was no way to verify the authenticity of the group. had been entered into an online game where selections could be changed between rounds based on a dead spin report at the time.
here is our position in each of the previous years:
no perfect ncaa group lasted until the first round on friday night, thanks to umbc’s historic 16-1 victory over virginia. Of the millions of supports we tracked, 25 were perfect during the first 28 games of the tournament, but umbc’s win in the game was not. 29 knocked them all out.
We saw an incredible 39 games chosen to start the tournament, a number that was the highest on record until 2019. The record-breaking pool, entered into Yahoo Pool Play, was the only pool to make it past 37 games unscathed, and managed to make 39 straight correct picks before Iowa State failed to come back from a comeback against Purdue and handed the group its first loss of the tournament.
The longest anyone was this year was 25 games. with Stephen F. Austin’s victory over West Virginia on Friday night, the last remaining perfect group of the NCAA tournament busted. a 15-2 upset (middle tennessee over michigan state) made this a tough year for the keys.
This was another banner year, as a group at ESPN’s Online Group Play correctly selected the top 34 games, according to a story by ESPN Head Writer Darren Rovell. espn said in 2016 that his 2015 group was the best start to a tournament he had recorded in 18 years of playing.
2014 (and before)
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Prior to 2017, the longest perfect streak on record was 36, according to yahoo! sports. In 2014, Brad Binder shot 36 for 36 to start the tournament. yahoo! sports reported that the binder bracket was the only time he had a perfect second-round bracket in his 18+ years of hosting a game.
In the 2019 tournament, the relative predictability (top seeds winning) of the ncaa tournament led to an abnormally high number of perfect groups surviving the first round. We tracked an estimated 25 million brackets from the start, across six major online games, including the Capital One Madness Bracket Challenge here on ncaa.com. Of those, 15 were perfect after the first 32 games of the tournament.
Saturday pruned that field a little further, and in games on ncaa.com, cbs, espn, fox sports, sports illustrated and yahoo!, only two braces of marching madness remained perfect during the 40 games before Sunday. : nigl’s and a parenthesis in yahoo.
The parentheses disagreed on the fourth game of the day: texas tech-buffalo. when texas tech won, that left only nigl’s “middle path” support as the only perfect gear madness support left. Center Road survived multiple scares on Sunday, including Tennessee’s overtime victory and Duke’s escape over UCF.
and after a landslide victory by gonzaga to start the sweet 16, the “center road” group suffered its first loss, when purdue beat tennessee 99-94 in overtime in the 50th game of the tournament. that streak of 49 correct games will be very difficult to overcome in the future. side note, it’s the second time in three years that purdue has broken a perfect group record.
The odds of a perfect pool of 63 NCAA games can be as high as 1 in 9.2 quintillion, though those are the perfect pool odds if each game were a 50-50 coin toss. If you factor knowledge of NCAA men’s basketball into the formula, the odds of picking a perfect group can be as low as 1 in 28 billion, according to the late DePaul professor Jeff Bergen.
bergen estimated that if every 7.5 billion people on the planet started completing one cluster every minute, it would take more than 2,000 years to complete 9.2 quintillion.
– dan jepperson, mike szahaj, and daniel wilco contributed to this report