Picking the right teams to win in your office pool is harder than you think.
The chance of any given team getting to the final contest, and winning, are 1 in 32, assuming they all have an equal chance. That's an easy bet. You have slightly less chance (1 in 50) of living to be 100 years old, and far worse chances of staying married (as 1 in 3 do not).
But what are the chances of getting every team right?
Well, let's just look at the previous format, instead of the new 68-team format. There are 64 teams that enter the tournament,which means 32 contests. Assuming you have a 50-50 chance of guessing the winner in each bracket, that is a 1 in 4,294,967,296 chance.
The odds aren't exactly 50-50, but not many people keep close enough track of every team in the NCAA well enough to construct an entire set of betting lines. (That is why those people work in Las Vegas and do this for a living, as it is a full-time job). So, essentially, one can assume that it is even money on each team you fill in.
Getting the first two rounds right puts you in even more elite territory. If you started with the first round you just beat out 4.2 billion other people. If you get the second you beat an additional 65,356 (there are sixteen contests, so you figure 1 / 216). That puts you at one in 2.80701883 × 1014 which is 1 in 280 trillion.
How big (or small) is that? If you were fishing in the ocean and looking for one particular fish, you would be 100 times more likely to find it. So you'd be better off making that bet.
So what are the chances you guess every winner correctly? Under previous years' rules of just 64 teams, there were a total of 63 contests (32 + 16 + 8 + 4 + 2 + 1) involved in being the champion, which means you would have to guess the right combination of a possible 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 different ways to enter the bracket (that is 2 to the 63rd power).
The odds of surviving Russian roulette are better: 1 in 64, provided you get to the last empty chamber. (If you continue to play, you still have better odds of survival doing it another half-dozen times). You'd be better off betting that you will roll snake eyes on a pair of dice - 10 times in a row.
In fact, there is a better chance of getting hit with a meteor or killed by hail (which happens to one in every 5 million people).
You are billions of times more likely to bowl a 300 game (about 1 in 11,000) win an Olympic gold medal (1 in 662,000) or get a royal flush in a five-card poker hand (1 in 649,739).
And that was the old way. With the new 68-team draw, it's even harder.