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The Margin: There are no more perfect NCAA Tournament brackets — and Loyola Chicago isn’t to blame

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If March Madness feels just a bit crazier this year, you’re not alone.

Thanks to a plethora of first-round upsets, there are zero perfect brackets remaining in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, according to NCAA.com, which counted about 20 million individual online brackets played on the NCAA site, ESPN, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated and Yahoo. (Bracket bets placed at gaming venues or other places offline were not counted.)

But you can’t blame Loyola Chicago, which knocked off No. 1-seed Illinois early Sunday. The clincher came Saturday night, 28 games into the tournament, when 10th-seeded Maryland defeated No. 7-seed UConn, shattering the three remaining perfect brackets.

There were just 121 perfect brackets after Friday’s first round of the tournament, which saw No. 2-seed Ohio State fall to No. 15 Oral Roberts, No. 13 North Texas upset No. 4 Purdue, and 12th-seed Oregon State beat No. 5 Tennessee.

The pandemic forced the tournament to be canceled last year, but in 2019, an Ohio man predicted a record 49 straight matchups (to be fair, the NCAA has only been tracking brackets since 2016). As a point of reference, NCAA.com noted that if every game were a coin toss, the odds of predicting 49 in a row are 1 in 562,949,953,421,312. The odds for a perfect bracket through all 63 tournament games are even more mind-boggling: 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

This doesn’t mean everyone’s bracket is totally busted, though. NCAA.com said 38.8% of brackets predicted No. 1-seed Gonzaga to win it all. Those hopes are still alive, after the Bulldogs cruised through their opening-round game Friday, beating No. 16 Norfolk State, 98-55.

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