Bracket IQ

BACK TO Bracket IQ
basketball-men-d1 flag

Eric Vander Voort | | March 29, 2016

How many people picked a perfect Final Four?

March Madness Moments: Sunday's Elite Eight

March Madness always delivers the unpredictable, and this year’s Final Four is no different.

Neither of the two top picks to win the title in’s Capital One Bracket Challenge Game (Kansas and Michigan State) made it. Meanwhile, tenth-seeded Syracuse, which was picked to reach the Final Four in .89 percent of all brackets, did make it.

It is incredibly difficult to pick a Final Four correctly. In the past six years of Bracket Challenge Game, the percentage of perfect Final Fours has ranged from zero to 1.36 percent. The 2016 Final Four of Villanova, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Syracuse ranks ever so slightly above the bottom of that range.

In this year’s Bracket Challenge, .0093 percent of submitted brackets had all four Final Four teams. Take a look at how that compares to other years:

2016 (1) North Carolina, (2) Villanova, (2) Oklahoma, (10) Syracuse .0093%
2015 (1) Kentucky, (1) Wisconsin, (1) Duke, (7) Michigan State 1.36%
2014 (1) Florida, (2) Wisconsin, (7) Connecticut, (8) Kentucky .0063%
2013 (1) Louisville, (4) Michigan, (4) Syracuse, (9) Wichita State 0%
2012 (1) Kentucky, (2) Ohio State, (2) Kansas, (4) Louisville, .22%
2011 (3) Connecticut, (4) Kentucky, (8) Butler, (11) Florida 0%

With Syracuse being the first No. 10 seed to ever make a Final Four, it’s no surprise that the numbers this year are closer to the low end than the high end. That’s slightly under 1 in every 100,000 brackets that picked all four correctly.

However, there’s another way to look at it: It’s the third most predictable Final Four of the past six. Three other years had even lower percentages, with two of them having no correct Final Fours.

The 2014 Final Four, which had a No. 7 seed and a No. 8 seed, had a lower rate, at .0063 percent. Based on seed alone, that’s two unexpected teams instead of 2016’s one, which would presumably make it even harder to predict correctly.

So, why are people correct this year, when no one got it right in 2011 and 2013? VCU (2011) and Wichita State (2013) made surprising runs, but it’s likely that neither has as big of a fan base participating as Syracuse does this season. If Syracuse fans are picking the Orange to go further than most, it makes sense that more would get all four right.

Still, despite it being in the third most correctly predicted Final Four, 2016 still had about 146 times fewer perfect semifinals than the highest percentage. Last season’s 1.36 percent rate, when four perennially successful postseason teams in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Duke advanced, is by far the most predictable Final Four in the six years of the Bracket Challenge.

Looking ahead, North Carolina was picked to win the national title more than any other remaining teams, with 15.02 percent of brackets crowning the Tar Heels. Oklahoma was picked by 5.18 percent, Villanova by 2.36 percent and Syracuse by .23 percent of all brackets.

Road to the Final Four: Syracuse Orange

College basketball rankings: Even unranked teams find success in the NCAA tournament

Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 — its modern format — only four of 35 national champions were unranked to start the season. That’s about one in every nine years.

Only .025 percent predicted the 2021 Final Four teams in the Bracket Challenge Game

UCLA's upset of No. 1 Michigan in the Elite Eight turned what could have been a record-high number of perfect picks into a tiny number that went 4-for-4.

A huge majority of NCAA brackets have a No. 1 seed winning the 2021 championship

Here is how many brackets predicted each seed to win the national championship, from Gonzaga and the No. 1 seeds through Drexel and the rest of the No. 16 seeds.
Presented by
Presented by
Presented by

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners