After just two rounds of the NCAA’s March Madness tournament, there are no perfect brackets remaining—but millions register to play, growing the audience for ESPN, Yahoo, and other media outlets.
- Fewer than 0.1% of March Madness brackets survived the first rounds of the NCAA tournament after several upsets, but the final blow came Friday night as number-one seed Purdue lost to 16-seed Fairleigh Dickson.
- The odds of maintaining a perfect March Madness bracket throughout the entire tournament are already slim, but the upsets pushed the odds even lower.
- None of the brackets submitted through ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, or the NCAA survived the first two rounds of games.
- Key upsets included Princeton’s, ranked number 15, victory over the second-seed University of Arizona, and Furman University, ranked number 13, winning over the University of Virginia, ranked number four. But the big one was 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson upsetting number-one seed Purdue.
Why it’s news
March Madness generates a significant amount of revenue through sponsorship deals, media rights, ticket sales, advertising, and sports betting. Last year, the NCAA made $850 million from March Madness alone, NPR reports.
The bracket challenge is a major way for the sports media world to interact with customers—getting new registrants, new email addresses, and new eyeballs for their advertisers. It is usually free to enter, fill out a tournament bracket, and guess the winners in the single-elimination tournament that starts with 67 teams.
However, there are better odds of winning the Powerball than maintaining a perfect March Madness bracket, but last week’s upsets significantly diminished the odds. For a knowledgeable audience, the odds of correctly guessing a full NCAA tournament bracket are 1 in 120.2 billion, Forbes reports.
Participants of the March Madness bracket challenge must correctly guess the winners of all 67 games in the tournament. So far, no one has ever successfully done so. In 2019, an Ohio participant came the closest to a perfect bracket, but his predictions fell apart with 18 games left.
The NCAA is far from the only one to cash in on the events. Sports betting plays a significant role in the tournament. The American Gaming Association reported that last year, around 45 million Americans bet about $3.1 billion on March Madness.
This year, the finance website WalletHub estimates there will be $10 billion worth of gambling during the tournament. Nearly 50% of the U.S. population will participate in the betting, NBC News reports.
The jump in sports betting comes as more states legalize sports gambling. Thirty-six states, plus Washington, D.C., have legalized it. Nine other states are still considering legalizing sports betting.
While limits on sports gambling vary from state to state, all represent a growing industry and growing tax revenue for the states. Five years after the Supreme Court struck down a law prohibiting sports gambling, state tax revenue related to sports gambling has grown to nearly $1 billion. In 2018, before the law was struck down, state revenue was around $38 million, NBC News reports.