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.)

Related:

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.

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Mark Berman · March 20, 2014