2,000 NCAA brackets still perfect, 18 still looking for first win

About 0.007% of all brackets remained perfect through the first 16 games of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
Oakland players celebrate after defeating Kentucky in a college basketball game.
Posted at 7:19 AM, Mar 22, 2024

Believe it or not, more than 2,000 known brackets remained perfect at the end of the day Thursday as most participants in various NCAA Men's Basketball Tournamentchallenges took their first loss early in the day.

The NCAA said that after the first day last year, fewer than 800 brackets remained perfect. 

The NCAA is tracking brackets completed through the Men's Bracket Challenge Game, ESPN, CBS and Yahoo. In order for the brackets to survive the day, they would have needed to correctly pick five upsets. 

The NCAA said there are approximately 29 million known brackets. Of the known perfect brackets, 1,825 remained through ESPN. ESPN said it had 22 million brackets filled out through its website. 

ESPN noted that 18 of its 22 million brackets lost all 16 games on Thursday. 

Over 18.5 million of ESPN's 22 million brackets had at least one loss after just two games yesterday when Mississippi State and BYU both lost in the early afternoon. 

The most prominent of Thursday's upsets came early in the evening when the Oakland Golden Grizzlies advanced to the second round for the first time in program history by defeating the Kentucky Wildcats. Oakland entered as the No. 14 seed, and toppled the No. 3-seed Wildcats. Only about 5% of brackets had Oakland defeating Kentucky, and among the few who picked Oakland was Vice President Kamala Harris. 

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According to the NCAA, 6.5% of all brackets had Kentucky winning it all. 

Last year, no brackets remained perfect through the second day; the last perfect bracket was eliminated during the evening when No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson defeated No. 1 seed Purdue. 

The last time a known bracket survived the entire first round was in 2019. According to the NCAA, Gregg Nigl had his perfect bracket intact all the way to the start of the Sweet 16. He had predicted the first 49 games correctly.

The NCAA notes that it is unable to track all brackets, as some participate in local challenges with friends and social groups.