Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Mind: NCAA brackets ruined by fall-off-your-chair upsets

Georgia State players celebrate as they surround R.J. Hunter, center, after he made the game winning shot against Baylor an NCAA tournament second round college basketball game, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Jacksonville, Fla. Georgia State won 57-56.
Georgia State players celebrate as they surround R.J. Hunter, center, after he made the game winning shot against Baylor an NCAA tournament second round college basketball game, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Jacksonville, Fla. Georgia State won 57-56. AP

Not once in recorded history has there ever been a perfect bracket filled out for the NCAA Tournament in men’s basketball. Mathematicians and algorithmists have estimated the odds of that happening as one in 9.2 quintillion.

Quintillion sounds like a word somebody made up. Like bazillion.

Oddly, though, “cotillion” is not a large number at all, but rather a type of partnered social dance that originated in France in the 18th century.

Quick fact: You are a bazillion times more likely to find yourself transported to 18th century France via time travel than you are to have a perfect bracket.

Perfect brackets died early this year, on Thursday — Day One of the main, post-play-in-games tournament, with two major upsets right out the gate: 14th seed UAB stunning No. 3 seed Iowa State, and then 14th-seeded Georgia State shocking No. 3 Baylor.

Let’s put that in perspective. A record 11.57 million ballots were submitted to ESPN’s annual bracket challenge and only 1.9 percent of them predicted wins by both UAB and Georgia State. Meaning 11.35 million perfect ballots, or 98.1 percent, were perfectly ruined.

Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, after tearing an Achilles tendon celebrating an earlier win, coached the victory over Baylor while sitting courtside in a chair that rolled on casters. Late in the game, he toppled from the chair celebrating a long three-point basket — made by his son to win the game — and cheered flailing while prone.

It was both a perfectly ridiculous sight and also the perfect metaphor for the surprise factor that makes March Madness what it is:

A result that, figuratively and sometimes literally, makes you fall out of your chair.

▪ Kentucky is a prohibitive favorite to win the men’s NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats were the pick on President Obama’s bracket and even automatically dissenting Republicans couldn’t disagree with him.

▪ SMU coach Larry Brown, 74, said Kentucky would make the NBA playoffs in the Eastern Conference, but coach John Calipari quickly tweeted, “Let me be clear: If we played any NBA team, we would get buried.” (Maybe Brown was off his meds?)

▪ The 64th Florida Derby runs at Gulfstream on Saturday. This is where we get excited and imagine the winning horse might finally be the one to end the sport’s 37-year Triple Crown drought, even though we sort of all know better.

▪ The Miami Hurricanes’ annual spring football game also is Saturday. It isn’t the season, so instead of a plane pulling a “Fire Al Golden” banner, it will be a small drone carrying a cardboard sign.

▪ The two-week pro tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, often called the sport’s “fifth major,” begins its annual run Monday. One problem: Predictability. Put it this way: Give me Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic and you can have everybody else. I like my chances.

▪ Here’s another example of the change in Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. His players have a new private team jet that includes a massage table. They used to have to make their own bats on a wood lathe.

▪ With the countdown to Opening Day now 15 days, new betting odds now have Marlin Giancarlo Stanton the favorite to win both the MLB home-run title and National League MVP. Hey, no pressure, Mr. $325 Million Man. Just relax and have fun out there!

▪ A bird was killed by a foul ball during a Tigers-Braves spring game. Cannot confirm an outraged PETA is now calling for an end to baseball.

▪ Former Marlins favorite Dontrelle Willis, now 33, has retired from baseball pending his next unsuccessful comeback attempt tentatively scheduled for next February.

▪ The NFL is considering 23 rules changes including one, proposed by the Colts, that would give teams a “bonus point” if, after making a two-point conversion, they then converted a 50-yard field goal. The only reasonable explanation: The Colts, in suggesting that, were either kidding or drunk.

▪ 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired at 24 rather than subject himself to concussions. Dear players: How about you have your epiphany before teams waste a draft pick on you?

▪ Jameis Winston says he will not attend the NFL Draft. Apparently he was looking to give skeptics yet another reason to question his decision making.

▪ Reigning NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick has become the first driver since Richard Petty in 1974 with four consecutive top-two finishes to start a season. Much more of this domination and they’ll have to level the field by making Harvick drive a Hertz rental car.

▪ Sentences I Never Imagined Writing (one in a series): “Evander Holyfield will fight Mitt Romney in a May 15 charity boxing match in Salt Lake City.”

▪ Answer: The championship belt given the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao winner on May 2 will be gold and emerald and valued at nearly $1 million. Question: Why do some people always complain about the “excess” in sports?

▪ Parting thought: Pete Rose has officially petitioned baseball for reinstatement. I wouldn’t bet on his chances. “I would!” said Rose.

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Hot list

Today: Fewest and most losses in a season by an NCAA men’s basketball champion:

FEWEST LOSSES

Team

Record

Year, coach

Indiana

32-0

1976, Bob Knight

UCLA

30-0

1973, John Wooden

UCLA

30-0

1972, John Wooden

Note: These are three most recent of seven unbeaten champs. Others were UCLA in 1967 and 1964, North Carolina in 1957 and San Francisco in 1956. Kentucky is only unbeaten team in 2015 tournament.

MOST LOSSES

Team

Record

Year, coach

Kansas

27-11

1988, Larry Brown

Villanova

25-10

1985, Rollie Massimino

North Carolina State

26-10

1983, Jim Valvano

Note: Next-most losses have been nine by Indiana in 1981, Arizona in 1997 and UConn in 2011. Twenty-nine of 64 teams in 2015 tournament had double-digit losses, led by No. 16 seed Hampton’s 17.

What South Florida sports fans are talking about

1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL

March Madness, bracket watching in full swing: America’s annual spring obsession with brackets and office pools is under way, with Miami making the women’s NCAA Tournament this year but the UM men relegated to the second-level NIT. Thinking that makes it a little closer to March Mildness this year for Hurricanes fans.

2. HEAT

Rejuvenated, vintage Wade leading playoff push: Dwyane Wade had scored 25 or more points in seven consecutive games entering the weekend (his best stretch since 2010) and led big home wins over LeBron James’ Cleveland team and then Portland that lifted Miami from ninth to seventh in the NBA playoff chase. What was that you were saying about “past his prime?”

3. MARLINS

Big spending Fish extend Yelich’s deal: For years we made fun of Jeffrey Loria’s infamous cheapness. Now the Marlins owner is making it rain and buying everyone drinks. Latest example: the 7 year, $49.5 million contract extension for young outfielder Christian Yelich. The only complaints you hear these days are from Loria haters on how tough they have it now.

4. DOLPHINS

Fins let Clay go, audition Crabtree: Tight end Charles Clay departed for Buffalo as Miami signed center J.D. Walton and invited receiver Michael Crabtree in for a visit. Once the news got to career backup QB Tarvaris Jackson also in for a look, it was official: The big, Ndamukong Suh-led wave is done. The excitement is over. Free agency is beginning to wane.

5. PANTHERS

Cats’ postseason hopes now on life support: ESPN’s Linda Cohn, 55, was among 58 persons at a fun open tryout to be the Panthers’ backup practice goalie. Alas, with only 10 games left in the regular season and despite Thursday’s big win over Detroit, Cohn probably had a better chance of being selected than the Cats now have of making the NHL playoffs.

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