The longest an NCAA bracket has ever stayed perfect
The longest (verifiable) streak of correct picks in an NCAA tournament bracket to start the beloved March Madness tournament is 49, a streak that was established in 2019.
An Ohio man correctly predicted the entire 2019 NCAA tournament into the Sweet 16, something we've not seen in years of tracking publicly verifiable online March Madness brackets at all major games.
The last verifiably perfect men’s NCAA bracket in 2022 busted on the first Friday of the tournament when No. 11 Iowa State upset No. 6 LSU, 59-54. That’s when this bracket created by ESPN user "Bekins24" — busted.
In 2021, multiple monumental upsets had all of the remaining perfect brackets busted on the 28thgame. That of course follows 2020, when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the NCAA tournament.
Before the 2019 NCAA tournament, the longest streak of correct picks we had seen in a March Madness bracket was 39 games, achieved in 2017.
Then Gregg Nigl, of Columbus, shattered that record with his briefly-famous "center road" NCAA tournament bracket in the Capital One NCAA March Madness Bracket Challenge, which correctly predicted the first 49 games of the 2019 tournament before busting in game 50, when 3-seed Purdue beat 2-seed Tennessee 99-94 in overtime of the second game in the Sweet 16.
Nigl, a neuropsychologist from Columbus, Ohio, became the first verified bracket ever to pick through to the Sweet 16 correctly.
With more than three decades of online and paper brackets to sift through (the current format has existed since 1985) and with somewhere between an estimated 60 million to 100 million brackets filled out every year, it's very possible that someone, somewhere has done better. Determining an official record is made even more difficult by the fact that online games only recently have begun comprehensive record-keeping.
We've closely tracked about 20-to-25 million online brackets per year at a half dozen major games since 2016 using public leaderboards in combination with direct reporting and information gathering with those games. Prior to 2016, we've relied on those games' reports as well as online archives to get the best information available.
Until this year, we could find no verified brackets that have been perfect into the Sweet 16 at all. There was a widely reported instance of a bracket that was perfect through two rounds in 2010, but there was no way to verify the bracket’s authenticity. It had been entered in an online game where picks could be altered between rounds according to a Deadspin report at the time.