INDIANAPOLIS, March 16 (UPI) -- The name says it all: March Madness. The time has arrived for thousands of office pools, endless bracket challenges and plenty of lost work productivity for the next three weeks as college basketball crowns a champion.
Many games out there offer cash rewards for picking the best bracket -- and last year, Warren Buffet even offered $1 billion for anyone who could come up with a mistake-free bracket. Of course, no one did. In fact, none of the millions of entries even made it out of the second round unscathed. And you will not get another crack at Buffet's billion this year.
The NCAA announced its field of 68 teams Sunday afternoon, with undefeated Kentucky, Villanova, Duke and Wisconsin taking the tournament's top seeds. But before you fill out your bracket, there are a few statistics you might want to be aware of.
First of all, the stats say you can forget about a perfect bracket. USA Today reports that the odds of accomplishing that are one in 9.2 quintillion -- as in million, billion, trillion, quadrillion, quintillion. Another way of looking at that number: It's one billion repeated 9.2 billion times.
But that's just the straight mathematical number. Those with knowledge of college basketball and the tournament have better odds, a DePaul math professor says, at one in 128 billion.
Another thing to consider is that only once since the tournament began seeding teams in 1979 have all four top seeds made it to the Final Four (2008). Last year, the last four teams standing were seeded Nos. 1, 2, 7 and 8 -- with the Nos. 7 and 8 making the championship game.
Upsets will happen, but the tricky part is calling the right ones. Perhaps the first matchups you should consider in the round of 64 -- the first round all teams begin playing in -- are the No. 5 versus No. 12 games. The 12-seed has upset a 5-seed 44 times, making it the most common upset to befall teams seeded 6 or better.
Most likely, some of the top teams will go down before the championship rounds. But experts say it's a very long shot that any of the 1-seeds will go down in the first round to its 16-seed underdog. If you're tempted to pick that upset, you might want to consider the fact that it has never happened in the history of the NCAA tournament -- not even once.
The next line down, however -- the No. 2 vs. No. 15 games -- could happen. It doesn't occur very often, but it has happened in two of the last three tournaments. In fact, two No. 2s were beaten by a 15-seed in 2012.
Because some tournament games will take place during the work week, it has become well known that basketball watching costs employers time, money and productivity. USA Today reported last week that this year, analysts estimated that employers could lose out on nearly $2 billion in unmet productivity this year.
"That figure may be on the conservative side," said global outplacement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas in a press release.