BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo Biostatistics Chair
Alan Hutson has a tip for all those candidates lining up to win
Warren Buffett’s $1 billion sweepstakes for picking all 63
NCAA Basketball Tournament games.
It’s not going to happen.
That’s the message from Hutson, a member of the American
“Warren Buffett didn’t make his billions by taking
low odds on his business ventures,” says Hutson.
“That’s why they threw $1 billion at it. It could have
been a trillion for that matter.”
Hutson laid out the odds if each of the 63 games were like a
coin flip, each team having a 50-50 chance of winning. Then picking
two games correctly would be ½ times ½, or ¼,
multiplying ½ by itself 63 times.
That works out to a probability of 1 out of
True, the odds aren’t quite that long, Hutson points out,
because those making choices on games don’t imagine their
odds as 50-50. But even taking into consideration that people can
play favorites, it doesn’t change the action enough to give
anyone anything resembling a reasonable chance of winning the
“No matter how good a prognosticator you are based
on your basketball knowledge,” Hutson says, “the odds
are still infinitesimal.”