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MSU Denver professor provides mathematical strategy to filling out March Madness bracket

Bracketology is an art form few have mastered
Bracketology is an art form few have mastered 02:45

Just like winning the lottery, the chance of picking a perfect bracket is nearly impossible. The odds, according to the experts, are 1-in-120 billion. A perfect bracket has never been done officially.

But there are ways to perhaps give you better odds of a winning bracket.

Ben Dyhr, professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Metropolitan State University of Denver. CBS

Bracketology is an art form only a few have mastered. Sure, you can pick based on tournament seeding, mascots, and even team colors. But if you're a bit more serious, there are other ways.

"Now this is where I can get 'mathy'," said Ben Dyhr, a professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Dyhr is all about analyzing probabilities and numbers, but also basketball.

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"One of the reasons why I love basketball is because of the unpredictability, and the speed of it, and athleticism," he said.

One of the first steps in Dyhr's strategy is actually a practical one. Start by just giving yourself plenty of space to "work," he said.

"If you have a quiet space, a lot of open space and scratch paper, especially paper brackets that you can compare to each other," Dyhr said.

CBS News Colorado's Brian Flores interviews Ben Dyhr,  professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Metropolitan State University of Denver. CBS

Now, when it comes to at least math strategy, Dyhr suggests looking at two sets of numbers.

The first includes analyzing each of the games' point spread, and second the underdog's probability or odds of winning.

"The slighter the odds, the smaller this probability. And the larger this point spread the greater the risk is to bet on the underdog," said Dyhr.

Basically, the closer the point spread, the better the chances of an upset.

"You might go on some gut feelings. There should be nothing wrong with that because some of these games come down to the final basket," he said.

Despite the brief math advice, good luck. Because seeing a perfect bracket could take a while, "It's beyond rare. It's not a 1-in-100-year thing, it's like a 1-in-a-billion-year thing." 

Dyhr also suggests doing multiple drafts of your bracket to figure out which one is true to you. Also, he suggests selecting your Final Four that way you have a clearer path of how the teams made it there.


He also said to analyze other factors like player injuries, where the teams are playing because of home-court advantage, and he says go with the teams with a solid defense with closely matched teams. 

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