College Basketball Nation: 2014 ESPN Tournament Challenge

After all was said and done, 0.3 percent (27,203) brackets out of 11 million-plus in the Tournament Challenge correctly picked Connecticut to win the national title, by far the lowest percentage in recent years.

Here's how that number compared to recent champions:
2013: Louisville -- picked to win it all in 21.9 percent of brackets
2012: Kentucky -- 35.1 percent
2011: Connecticut -- 4.7 percent
2010: Duke -- 6.4 percent

President Obama's bracket

The president finished in the 72.9 percentile, with a 39-24 record, getting one Final Four team right (Florida). Last year, he went 38-25, finishing in the 74.4 percentile (getting one Final Four team right in Louisville, but having the Cardinals losing in the title game to Indiana).

If you went with an all-chalk bracket, picking just favorites, you would've finished with a 39-24 record, placing in the 77.6 percentile. Despite the Obama and chalk brackets having the same overall record, the chalk bracket scored more points based on this game's system (it had one more Sweet 16 team but one fewer winner than the president in the Round of 64).
A total of 1,780 brackets of the 11 million-plus entered in the Tournament Challenge correctly predicted a Connecticut-Kentucky national championship game.

In total, just 2.6 percent of brackets had at least one team in the title game, with 2.1 percent of brackets had Kentucky going this far, while 0.5 percent (49,997 total brackets) had Connecticut playing for the championship.

Overall, 1.1 percent of brackets have Kentucky winning it all, with 0.3 percent (27,203 total brackets) taking Connecticut all the way. Kentucky was by far the most popular 8-seed to win it all (with no other 8-seed getting more than 0.1 percent of support to win it all), while Connecticut was just slightly the most popular 7-seed to take the title (Oregon and Texas were taken in 0.2 percent of brackets).

Of the 1,780 brackets that predicted a UConn-Kentucky championship game, the Wildcats are the slight favorite, picked in 51.8 percent of those particular brackets.

As for the teams that lost Saturday, Florida was the most popular pick to win it all, taken in 27.1 percent of brackets (with 41.1 percent having the Gators reach the title game). Wisconsin was the national championship pick in 2 percent of brackets (and were picked to reach the title game in 5.7 percent of brackets).

Obama's bracket

The president can't get any more points because he had Michigan State beating Louisville for the title. However, with the low number of brackets getting even just one team in the championship game, he currently sits in the 72.9 percentile. He'll finish the tournament with a 39-24 record.


Out of the more than 11 million brackets in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, 612 got the entire Final Four correct. Connecticut and Kentucky proved to be the real difference-makers, with just 1.3 percent of brackets picking the Huskies and 3.3 percent taking the Wildcats this far. In fact, just 9,081 brackets had both UConn and Kentucky in the Final Four.

(Worth noting, only 47 brackets got the entire Final Four correct last year.)

Percentage of brackets picking each of the Final Four teams to reach the Final Four (numbers to reach title game/win it all):
  • Florida: 61.9 percent (41.1 percent/27.1 percent)
  • Wisconsin: 20.7 percent (5.7 percent/2 percent)
  • Kentucky: 3.3 percent (2.1 percent/1.1 percent)
  • UConn: 1.3 percent (0.5 percent [49,997 brackets]/0.3 percent [27,203 brackets])
Percentage of brackets picking the actual Final Four matchups
Wisconsin-Kentucky: 66,048 brackets (0.6 percent); Kentucky picked to win in 64.2 percent of those brackets.

Florida-UConn: 66,517 brackets (0.6 percent); Florida picked to win 73.3 percent of those brackets.

Potential national championship game combinations
Florida-Wisconsin: 222,342 brackets (2 percent); Florida picked in 71 percent of those brackets.

Florida-Kentucky: 83,302 brackets (0.8 percent); Kentucky picked in 58.5 percent of those brackets.

UConn-Wisconsin: 3,196 brackets; UConn picked in 52.3 percent of those brackets.

UConn-Kentucky: 1,780 brackets; Kentucky picked in 51.8 percent of those brackets.

Breakdown of brackets with number of correct Final Four teams
4/4: 612 brackets
3/4: 51,045 brackets (0.46 percent)
2/4: 14.7 percent
1/4: 56.3 percent
0/4: 28.5 percent

President Obama's bracket
The president didn't get either game Sunday, losing his national championship pick of Michigan State (the second-most popular pick to win it all -- 14.6 percent of brackets). He got just one of his Final Four teams correct in Florida and can't earn any more points, as he had Michigan State beating Louisville in the final. He currently sits in the 73.8 percentile.
A total of 12.9 percent of the 11 million-plus Tournament Challenge brackets correctly picked Florida and Wisconsin to reach the Final Four.

Florida was picked to reach the Final Four in 61.9 percent of brackets, by far the most popular team in the game. The Gators are picked to reach the title game in 41.1 percent of brackets and to win it all in 27.1 percent, also best in the game.

Wisconsin was picked to reach the Final Four in 20.7 percent of brackets, the seventh-most overall (Arizona was second most popular to reach the Final Four at 48.8 percent). The Badgers are picked in 5.7 percent of brackets to reach the final game and 2 percent to win it all, both 11th-most popular overall. Also, 2 percent of brackets have Wisconsin and Florida meeting in the title game.

Obama's bracket

The President went 1-1 on Saturday, getting Florida correct but missing Wisconsin. He still has national championship pick of Michigan State alive, with the Spartans playing Sunday. He currently sits in the 75th percentile.

Looking ahead to Sunday and beyond

Brackets picking Sunday's potential winners
  • Michigan State, Michigan: 6.6 percent
  • Michigan State, Kentucky: 1.4 percent
  • UConn, Michigan: 21,618 brackets
  • UConn, Kentucky: 9,801 brackets
Brackets picking the potential Final Four combinations
  • Florida, Wisconsin, UConn, Michigan: 1,975
  • Florida, Wisconsin, UConn, Kentucky: 612
  • Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan: 1 percent (111,435)
  • Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Kentucky: 17,862

Just eight out of the 11 million plus Tournament Challenge brackets got all Elite Eight teams. In fact, only 1,108 brackets had all three of UConn, Kentucky and Dayton in the Elite Eight. Other notes from tonight's games:

East Region
  • Michigan State was a very popular pick to reach the Elite Eight, taken in 58.9 percent of brackets. The Spartans are picked in 47.1 percent of brackets to reach the Final Four and 14.6 percent to win it all (second-most overall behind Florida).
  • On the other hand, just 5.9 percent of UConn in the Elite Eight, with 1.4 percent taking the Huskies to the Final Four and 0.3 percent to win it all.
  • Overall, 3.3 percent of brackets have the Michigan State-UConn regional final, with 85.5 percent of those brackets taking the Spartans.
Midwest Region
  • Kentucky was picked in just 7.8 percent of brackets to reach the Elite Eight, with 3.3 percent picking the Wildcats for the Final Four and 1.1 percent to win it all. Meanwhile, Louisville was the third-most popular choice to win it all and was also President Barack Obama's pick to reach the championship game.
  • Michigan was picked in 41 percent of brackets to make the Elite 8, but just 15.1 percent to reach the Final Four and 3.7 percent to win it all.
  • A total of 2.7 percent of brackets had the Kentucky-Michigan matchup in the regional final, with 56.8 percent of those brackets taking the Wolverines.
Obama's bracket

The president got just one winner correct on Friday, his national champion pick of Michigan State. He lost his national finalist in Louisville and got just four of the Elite Eight overall. However, he does have three Final Four teams left in Michigan State, Arizona and Florida. His bracket currently sits in the 78.2 percentile.

Looking ahead to Saturday's Elite Eight games:

Florida vs. Dayton
  • 61.9 percent have Florida in the Final Four, 27.1 percent to win it all (highest in the game)
  • 19,665 brackets (0.2 percent) have Dayton in the Final Four, 3,644 to win it all
  • This matchup was picked in 44,397 brackets (0.4 percent). The Gators were picked to win in 86.5 percent of those matchups.
Arizona vs. Wisconsin
  • 48.8 percent have Arizona in the Final Four, 7.9 percent to win it all
  • 20.7 percent have Wisconsin in the Final Four, 2 percent to win it all
  • This matchup was picked in 36.3 percent of brackets. The Wildcats are picked to win in 67.3 percent of those matchups.
Brackets picking Saturday's potential winners
  • Florida, Arizona: 33.2 percent
  • Florida, Wisconsin: 12.9 percent
  • Dayton, Arizona: 2,717 brackets
  • Dayton, Wisconsin: 2,020 brackets
Brackets picking Sunday's potential winners
  • Michigan State, Michigan: 6.6 percent
  • Michigan State, Kentucky: 1.4 percent
  • UConn, Michigan: 21,618 brackets (0.2 percent)
  • UConn, Kentucky: 9,801 brackets

A total of 7,372 brackets out of 11 million-plus in Tournament Challenge got all four of Thursday's winners correct. Dayton was the obvious bracket buster here, as just 0.8 percent of brackets had the Flyers in the Elite Eight. Other notes from Thursday's action:

South Region
  • A whopping 85 percent of brackets had Florida in the Elite Eight (with 61.9 percent reaching the Final Four and 27.1 percent winning it all).
  • Dayton is picked to reach the Final Four in just 19,665 brackets (0.18 percent), and 3,644 brackets have the Flyers winning it all.
  • Just 44,397 brackets (0.4 percent) had the Florida-Dayton matchup in the Elite Eight. The Gators were picked to win in 86.5 percent of those matchups.
West Region
  • A total of 36.3 percent of brackets had the top two seeds Arizona and Wisconsin meeting in the Elite Eight. The Wildcats are picked to win in 67.3 percent of those matchups.
  • Overall, 69.4 percent of brackets have Arizona in the Elite Eight; Wisconsin at 49.6 percent.
  • Also, 48.8 percent of brackets have Arizona in the Final Four and 7.9 percent to win it all. Wisconsin is at 20.7 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Obama's bracket

The president got three of the four games correct Thursday, missing only Dayton. His Final Four teams of Florida and Arizona both won. He ranks in the 85.4 percentile.

Notable numbers regarding Friday's games
  • Michigan State, the 4-seed, is picked to reach the Elite Eight in more brackets than 1-seed Virginia (58.9 percent-33.5 percent).
  • Louisville is picked to reach the Elite Eight in 57.8 percent of brackets.
  • Teams picked to reach the Elite Eight in less than 10 percent of brackets: Kentucky (7.8 percent), UConn (5.9 percent) and Tennessee (1.3 percent).



Thanks to a flurry of upsets on Sunday, just three of the 11 million brackets in Tournament Challenge got the entire Sweet 16 correct. Another 99 brackets got 15 of 16 right. It's worth noting that none of the three perfect Sweet 16 brackets is atop the overall leaderboard in the game because of relatively modest scores in the Round of 64. (They all went 26-6 in the first round.)

Here's a look at Sunday's upsets:

10-seed Stanford over 2-seed Kansas
  • The Cardinal were picked to reach the Sweet 16 in 4.1 percent of brackets.
  • 82 percent of brackets predicted Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16, 16.9 percent predicted a Final Four appearance, 5.5 percent penciled them in as National Champions.
  • Stanford will face 11-seed Dayton in the Sweet 16. Just .4 percent of all brackets (45,782) had this matchup, with Stanford predicted to win in 58 percent of them.
8-seed Kentucky over 1-seed Wichita State
  • 29.2 percent of brackets had Kentucky in the Sweet 16, by far the most of any 8-seed; the Wildcats are in the Final Four in 3.3 percent of brackets and selected to win the entire tournament in 1.12 percent of brackets.
  • Wichita State was picked to reach the Sweet 16 in 65 percent of brackets (by far the lowest number of the 1-seeds). However, 5.9 percent of brackets had the Shockers winning it all.
  • Kentucky faces Louisville in the Sweet 16. That matchup was picked in 26.5 percent of brackets, but the Wildcats are picked to win in just 22.7 percent of those brackets.
6-seed Baylor over 3-seed Creighton
  • 26 percent of brackets have Baylor in the Sweet 16, but only 2.7 percent of brackets have the Bears in the Final Four.
  • Creighton had been picked to reach the Sweet 16 in 64.9 percent of brackets, 12.4 percent to reach the Final Four and 1.2 percent to win it all.
  • Baylor draws Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. 20.4 percent of brackets predicted that matchup, with 29.7 percent of those brackets taking the Bears.
11-seed Tennessee over 14-seed Mercer (Not really an upset, but given both are low seeds, the overall numbers are low)
  • 4.9 percent of brackets have Tennessee in the Sweet 16, although only 1.7 percent of brackets initially had a Tennessee-Mercer matchup in this round. Of those brackets picking that game, 50.6 percent had the Volunteers.


A total of 4,086 brackets had all four of Stanford, Kentucky, Baylor and Tennessee in the Sweet 16.

President Obama's bracket
The president ended up with nine Sweet 16 teams and is already down three of his Elite Eight teams (Kansas, Villanova, Duke). However, his Final Four (Arizona, Florida, Louisville, Michigan State) is still intact. He currently sits in the 73.7 percentile.

Previewing the Sweet 16 matchups
South: Florida-UCLA
  • Picked in 54.6 percent of all brackets.
  • Florida picked to win in 89.1 percent of those brackets.
Stanford-Dayton
  • Picked in .4 percent of all brackets (45,782).
  • Stanford picked in 58 percent of those brackets.
East: Virginia-Michigan State
  • Picked in 77.3 percent of brackets.
  • Michigan State picked in 67.8 percent of those brackets.
Iowa State-Connecticut
  • Picked in 12.7 percent of brackets.
  • Iowa State picked in 77.8 percent of those brackets.
West: Arizona-San Diego State
  • Picked in 46.7 percent of brackets.
  • Arizona picked in 85.4 percent of those brackets.
Wisconsin-Baylor
  • Picked in 20.4 percent of brackets.
  • Wisconsin picked in 70.3 percent of those brackets.
Midwest: Louisville-Kentucky
  • Picked in 26.5 percent of brackets.
  • Louisville picked in 77.3 percent of those brackets.
Michigan-Tennessee
  • Picked in 3.8 percent of brackets.
  • Michigan picked in 79.6 percent of those brackets.


Just 4.9 percent of brackets in the ESPN Tournament Challenge have Tennessee in the Sweet 16, although only 1.7 brackets initially had a Tennessee-Mercer matchup in this round. Of those brackets picking that game, 50.6 percent had the Volunteers.

With the result of this game, just 17 brackets have correctly chosen all of the first 12 Sweet 16 teams. And there are still four games left to go tonight.
KentuckyAP Photo/Jeff RobersonThe eighth-seeded Wildcats outlasted top-seeded Wichita State in the round of 32.

Another game, another 5.95 percent of brackets officially busted in ESPN's Tournament Challenge.

Kentucky’s upset of Wichita State was accurately projected in 29.2 percent of brackets. Wichita State was chosen to advance to the Sweet 16 in 65 percent of all brackets and was the third-most popular No. 1 seed chosen by participants to win (Virginia is the lowest at 3.75 percent).

Kentucky is chosen to make the final four in 3.3 percent of brackets and selected to win the entire tournament in 1.12 percent of brackets. The Wildcats will now face Louisville in the next round, a game predicted in 26.5 percent of brackets. Only 22 percent of those who predicted that matchup have Kentucky winning.

After 10 games, only 198 brackets have correctly chosen all 10 teams in the Sweet 16.

Here are a few notes on the ESPN Tournament Challenge after Stanford's upset win over Kansas:
  • Stanford was selected in 4.1 percent of Tournament Challenge brackets to advance to the Sweet 16.
  • 36.4 percent of all brackets had this matchup, but only 3.3 percent predicted a Stanford win.
  • 82 percent of brackets predicted Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16, 16.9 percent predicted a Final Four appearance, 5.5 percent penciled the Jayhawks in as national champions.
  • That 5.5 percent is the most of any team that has been eliminated up to this point. The next two: Duke (5.3 percent) and Syracuse (3.6 percent).

Looking forward to Dayton vs. Stanford in the Sweet 16, only 0.4 percent of all brackets (45,782) contain this matchup, and Stanford is predicted to win in 58 percent of them.


Thanks in large part to upset wins by 11-seed Dayton and 7-seed UConn, just 20,890 of the 11 million-plus Tournament Challenge brackets (0.19 percent) got all of Saturday's games correct.

None of the 35 brackets that had just one loss in the Round of 64 went perfect on Saturday, although three went 7-of-8. However, 14 of the 700 brackets that went 30-2 in the Round of 64 got all eight games right.

The biggest bracketbuster of the day was 11-seed Dayton, which was picked in just 3.9 percent of brackets to reach the Sweet 16. Meanwhile, the Flyers' victim, 3-seed Syracuse, was picked in 68.9 percent of brackets to reach the Sweet 16, with 11.8 percent picking the Orange to reach the Final Four and 3.6 percent to win it all.

The other surprise Sweet 16 team was 7-seed Connecticut, which was picked to reach the Sweet 16 in just 20.6 percent of brackets, knocking off 2-seed Villanova. While the Wildcats were picked to reach the Sweet 16 in 71.7 percent of brackets, just 9.6 percent had them in the Final Four and 1.2 winning it all.

In all, 1 percent of brackets had both Dayton and UConn advancing to the Sweet 16.

Obama's bracket
The president went 6-2 on Saturday, missing Dayton and UConn. The Villanova loss knocked out his second Elite Eight team (he lost Duke on Friday). He's got 13 of his Sweet 16 and his entire Final Four still intact. He currently sits in the 92.1 percentile.

Looking ahead to Sunday's games, some teams considered to be longshots to reach the Sweet 16 who could really bust brackets or help others pull away from the field:
  • Stephen F. Austin: 5.7 percent
  • Tennessee: 4.9 percent
  • Gonzaga: 4.5 percent
  • Stanford: 4.1 percent
  • Mercer: 1.5 percent


Also notable are the percentages picking 1-seed Wichita State (65.1 percent) to reach the Sweet 16 compared to Sunday's opponent, 8-seed Kentucky (29.3 percent).
Devon Scott Elsa/Getty ImagesNo. 11 seed Dayton knocked off No. 3 seed Syracuse on Saturday, 55-53.

Just 3.9 percent of brackets submitted for Tournament Challenge had Dayton in the Sweet 16. Meanwhile, Syracuse was picked in 68.9 percent of brackets to reach the Sweet 16, along with 11.8 percent to reach the Final Four and 3.6 percent to win it all.

After the round of 64, none of the 11 million-plus brackets in ESPN's Tournament Challenge got all 32 games right. However, 35 brackets went 31-1.

The worst score was three games correct, shared by two brackets. (Last year, the best record after the first round was 30-2, shared by five brackets.)

Among the one-loss brackets, 25 missed Mercer beating Duke and two missed Saint Louis beating NC State, the only teams missed by more than one of those brackets. The other teams also missed in the one-loss brackets: San Diego State, Michigan State, Baylor, Texas, Gonzaga, Memphis, Tennessee and Stephen F. Austin.

(Note: Apparently, there is one bracket on Yahoo! that went 32-for-32. However, it was not entered in the billion-dollar contest.)

Friday's upsets (winners who were picked in less than 50 percent of brackets):

14-seed Mercer over 3-seed Duke
-- 3.3 percent of brackets had Mercer knocking off Duke, the least picked of the 14-seeds. Also, 2,982 brackets have Mercer winning it all.

-- 20.9 percent of brackets had Duke in the Final Four, with 5.3 percent of them winning the national title. And for a little historical perspective, 1.2 percent of brackets had Lehigh knocking off Duke in 2012 when the Blue Devils were a 2-seed.

11-seed Tennessee over 6-seed UMass
-- 43.3 percent of brackets had the Volunteers winning, and the spread between UMass and Tennessee (56.7 percent versus 43.3 percent) was the smallest among the round of 64 games.

-- 1.7 percent of brackets picked both Mercer and Tennessee to meet in the Round of 32.

10-seed Stanford over 7-seed New Mexico
-- 38 percent of brackets picked the upset.

8-seed Gonzaga over 9-seed Oklahoma State
-- Only 35.3 percent of brackets picked Gonzaga over Oklahoma State. The Bulldogs were picked by fewer brackets than either Stanford or Tennessee.

12-seed Stephen F. Austin over 5-seed VCU
-- 20.9 percent of brackets picked Stephen F. Austin, the least picked of the 12-seeds.

-- The timing of this result knocked out the final remaining perfect brackets in the game.

-- 12-seeds went 3-1 in this year's tournament; 4.2 percent of brackets correctly had Stephen F. Austin, North Dakota State and Harvard winning their Round of 64 games.

Other upset notes
-- 0.3 percent of brackets picked all four of the double-digit seeds (Stanford, Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin and Mercer) that won Friday.

-- 0.1 percent of brackets picked all five of the "upsets" listed above (Gonzaga, Stanford, Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin and Mercer).

President Obama's bracket

After going 14-2 on Thursday, the president went 11-5 Friday to finish the round of 64 with a record of 25-7. He sits in the 91.8 percentile. He lost an Elite Eight team in Duke but heads into the next round with 14 of his Sweet 16 teams (missing just Duke and Ohio State) and his entire Final Four intact.

Chalk: A bracket of all favorites went 24-8 in the round of 64 and would be in the 78.4 percentile.

There are no more perfect brackets left in Tournament Challenge after 12-seed Stephen F. Austin upset 5-seed VCU. There had been only three perfect brackets left when Memphis beat George Washington, but none of those three had the Lumberjacks.

Stephen F. Austin was the least popular 12-seed, picked in just 20.9 percent of brackets to win in the Round of 64.

There are six perfect brackets left in Tournament Challenge after Gonzaga's win over Oklahoma State. That number will go down to three after the Memphis-George Washington game, which is likely to finish next, as those remaining brackets are evenly split on that contest.

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