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Predicting Madness

"Forecasting is very difficult, especially about the future" - Niels Bohr

Anybody that has met with us will have heard how we feel about making predictions. We think it is impossible to consistently be right about future events that are dependent upon tons of variables falling into place. Even when you think you have better information, better analysis, better intuition, better something, there is always the possibility of the unknown.

People like predictions, though. It feels good making them. They make you more confident. Predictions provide a sense of control, feeling like there is some grasp on the future that you can hold on to.

Millions of people will be making their predictions for March Madness, which starts today.

According to DePaul University professor, Jeffrey Bergen, there are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 different permutations in filling out your bracket. That's one in 9.2 quintillion. That is based on a 50% chance of one of two teams winning 63 games. Assuming you have some knowledge of the sport and consider some teams have a higher probability to win (for example a one seed vs. 16 seed), then your chances for the perfect bracket are a more comprehendible one in 128 billion.

When it comes to filling out your March Madness bracket, you do not have to be perfect. You just have to be better than the consensus.

Consistently beating the average of very informed people is inherently difficult, whether that is the office pool, millions of other bracket jockeys, or the investing public.

In the case of March Madness, we realize it is is just fun. It provides something to cheer about. It is another opportunity for friendly wagers and office banter.

Believing you can out-predict others on a consistent basis, though, is madness.



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