20 numbers that explain how mad we get for March Madness

Florida Gators forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) goes up for a dunk during Florida’s victory over Kentucky in the SEC tournament championship game. (Paul Abell/ USA TODAY Sports)

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament officially kicks off today! It’s that glorious time of year when a considerable chunk of this country grinds to a halt so we can watch a bunch of unpaid teenagers play basketball while we loudly announce the status of our brackets every five minutes until the entire thing ends. It truly is a wonderful time.

Here are some numbers that explain just how big the Big Dance really is:

64: Number of teams in the tournament as the first round gets underway Thursday.

49 million: The video live streams watched during last year’s tournament across all digital platforms, per Turner Sports.

207: Percentage increase in the hours of live video streaming watched during the tournament last year (up to 14 million hours) over the year before, according to Turner.

15.2 million: Average viewers watching the Final Four on television last year, the highest ratings since 2005.

16.3 million: Comments on social media during the tournament last year, Turner says.

42: Percent of information technology professionals who said in a 2012 survey that the tournament impacted their networks.

$1.2 billion: The amount that companies will pay workers to watch a single hour of the tournament, according to a report from the firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. (They note it could climb to as high as $1.9 billion an hour and explain their methodology here.)

75: Percent of information technology professionals who said in the 2012 survey that employees should be forbidden from watching things like the tournament during the workday.

75: Percent of managers who told OfficeTeam last year that March Madness has no impact on employee morale and productivity.

50 million: Americans expected to participate in office pools, according to a Microsoft survey in 2009.

$12 billion: Amount gambled on the tournament in 2011.

Zero: Number of times that a No. 1 seed has lost to a No. 16 seed.

$1 billion: The amount of money Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans will pay you if you pick a perfect bracket.

One in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808: The odds you randomly pick a perfect bracket, according to Jeff Bergen, a mathematician at DePaul University, and the fine print on the Buffett/Quicken Loans contest.

One in 128 billion: The odds you pick a perfect bracket if you have even a little knowledge, like that factoid about a No. 16 seed never beating a No. 1, according to Bergen.

Five: Years since President Obama correctly picked the winner (North Carolina in 2009).

Four: The seeds of both teams President Obama picked to make the title game.

Three: Number of No. 4 seeds to make the title game since seeding began in 1979 (Syracuse in 1996, Arizona in 1997 and Michigan last year).

Two: Number of No. 4 seeds that made the Final Four last year (Michigan and Syracuse).

One: Number of times in the last seven years someone filling out a bracket on ESPN.com got the entire first round right.

Oh, and one bonus number:

108: Days since the Florida Gators last lost a game as of Thursday. (Is it a jinx if you note that you really hope it’s not a jinx? Because I really hope that’s not a jinx.)


Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Most Read National



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Next Story
Mark Berman · March 20, 2014