March Madness 2023: ESPN Brackets Busted in Record Time


After several major upsets in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, there are no perfect brackets left. Not at ESPN or CBS Sports or Yahoo Sports. Just over 20 million brackets (20,056,273, to be exact) were submitted this year for ESPN’s annual contest but it only took 25 games to completely break EVERY bracket.

Boilermakers Bounced, More Brackets Busted

Purdue’s stunning Friday night loss to Fairleigh Dickinson was the final straw but the serious bracket-busting began on Thursday.  The first two games of the tourney, Maryland-West Virginia and Furman-Virginia, took out most of the field.  10,272,984 brackets took their first loss with West Virginia, and another 8,128,617 fell from the unblemished with Virginia’s loss.

The third game wiped out another chunk, with Missouri’s victory over Utah State taking 816,812 out of the running. The final game of the early window, a Kansas blowout win over Howard, eliminated 81,574. After just one window of games, 756,286 brackets were left perfect. That’s 3.77% of all brackets submitted.

Arizona Falls to Princeton in Huge Upset

The second window saw another group of brackets bite the dust. Alabama routed Texas A&M Corpus Christi and that eliminated 37,437 players. San Diego State’s victory over Charleston cost another 252,619. Princeton’s shocking win over Arizona pared the field by 431,308. The Arkansas victory over Illinois ended the daytime slate on day one and took another 16,844 out of the running.

With two windows completed, ESPN was down to only 18,078 perfect brackets. That is less than a tenth of a percent (0.09%) of all brackets entered.

Brackets continued to go down as Thursday and Friday went on. By the time UConn put the finishing touches on a victory over Iona Friday afternoon, ESPN was down to 22 perfect brackets.

…and then Fairleigh Dickinson stunned Purdue and took the rest of the brackets. Only 2.36% of completed entries predicted an FDU win over Purdue, the second-lowest percentage out of every team in the field, according to the NCAA. The shocking win also means that the last hopes of anyone completing the practically impossible task of predicting a perfect bracket has been eliminated altogether, the NCAA noted.

CBS also has zero perfect brackets left following Purdue’s loss.

There are no perfect brackets left at Yahoo Sports either.  Purdue was the fourth-most popular choice to win the national championship.

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