March Sadness: Six Things To Do Instead of Filling Out A Bracket

After doing a few minutes of mental math, here are six of my personal favorite alternatives to filling out a bracket, along with their odds.

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One out of 9,223,372,036,856,775,808. This miniscule number happens to be the exact odds of guessing all 63 games of March Madness correctly. Despite the unfavorable likelihood of filling a perfect bracket, 40 million people decide to test their luck each year, and as one might expect, all of them end up unsuccessful. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be your fate. After doing a few minutes of mental math, here are six of my personal favorite alternatives to filling out a bracket, along with their significantly likelier odds.

1. Apply to college

As Stuyvesant students, 99 percent of us are aiming to get into a good college. Getting admitted into an Ivy League school is a wish that many of us have, but something that only a select few actually achieve. The odds of getting into Harvard, for instance, are one in 22, which, compared to the previously mentioned one in 9,223,372,036,856,775,808 odds of scoring a perfect bracket, doesn’t seem bad at all. In fact, the two digit number feels microscopic written right next to the 19 digit number, and comparing the odds of an elite college accepting me and the odds of getting a perfect bracket convinces me that I’ll see all of you in Harvard!

2. Go for a run in a thunderstorm

Are you lightning-fast at running? No? Great, you don’t have to be, as the lightning part will come naturally. Filling out the bracket could be an hour-long ordeal, which is time that you could have been using taking your daily run in a thunderstorm. Historically, some have considered being struck by lightning as lucky, so why not try it yourself? Your odds of getting struck by lightning are one in 500,000, so the stronger the thunderstorm, the better!

3. Take a swim in ocean water

Love swimming? If so, this might be the one for you. Instead of sitting in front of your computer checking off circles on a screen, go to the beach and take in some spring weather! Swimming in the ocean is always a great way to cool off from rising temperatures, and it is also a perfect opportunity for shark-seeing! Getting bit by one of these gentle and kind animals happens to one in 5,000,000 people. Go test your luck on some sharks! Break a leg!

4. Play the Powerball

The grand prize of winning March Madness this year is $100 million, which sounds enticing. But do you know what sounds even better? More money. The Powerball frequently offers over $100 million dollars, with the prize pool reaching up to as much as $1.5 billion dollars. The odds are tough at one in 292,201,338, but nowhere near as hard to beat as the odds for the bracket.

5. Play the Powerball twice

What’s better than winning hundreds of millions of dollars? Winning hundreds of millions of dollars twice. Surprisingly, the odds of winning the powerball twice, one in 414,469,336,590,400, are still better than your chances of filling a perfect bracket—by 1,000 times. Well, what are you waiting for? Don’t just read about your great odds, steal your parent’s ID, run to the deli, and go buy a lottery ticket (or two)!

6. (Don’t) Fill out ESPN’s Second Chance Bracket

Each year, ESPN gives a second chance bracket, where collegiate basketball fans can fill out the bracket starting from the second round instead of having to bet on results for the entire tournament. Are the odds better for this bracket? A little. Will you win this bracket? Probably not. Hypothetically, even if you were to win, you would only be winning $10,000 compared to the $100 million, and who wants to take a $99,990,000 pay-cut? Not me.

No matter what you decide to do, don’t bother filling out a March Madness bracket. 196 in 197 people DON’T fill out the bracket, and you would fit along with them perfectly by doing the same. You can’t lose if you don’t play, right? Instead, shift to some of the better challenges that I provided above. They offer just as much excitement, and your chances of winning are substantially better. I would wish you good luck on beating the odds, but you won't need it, as the odds are most definitely in your favor!