PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Work productivity takes a dive in the United States this week, as the first couple of days are spent filling out office and online brackets, and the last couple of days are spent watching the games. If you’re going to do this, you might as well do it right.

Winning your office pool (for amusement purposes only) takes a lot of luck, winning a billion dollars will take a little more than that. But along with the luck you’ll need, there are some tips you can follow to be the one standing at the end.

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First of all, the odds of you getting every game right are long. Very long. There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible bracket scenarios. In case you don’t recognize that number, it’s 9.2 quintillion. To put that into context, the odds of you getting struck by lightning in your lifetime are 3,000 to one. The odds of being in an airplane crash are about 11 million to one. According to RJ Bell of, all possible brackets on normal paper would circle the globe over 21 million times.We’re not able to calculate the odds of you being struck by lightning while on an airplane, but it seems safe to assume it’s more likely than you coming away with a perfect bracket. So while Dan Gilbert’s $1 billion bracket is worth a try, don’t go spending it before you win it.

Bell also put together some odds and tips for filling out your bracket.

First, don’t pick any #16 or #15 seeds in that first round. A #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed, and only seven times out of 116 times has a #2 seed beaten a #15 seed. The odds aren’t in your favor.

It might be worth it, however, to select a #13 or a #14 seed to win in the first round. In 25 of the 29 years of the NCAA Tournament’s field of 64, a top four seed has not made it into the second round.

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Some other pieces of advice from Bell:

  • Advance no team worse than a #11 seed into the Elite 8, 26 seeds worse than 11 have made it the Sweet 16, but only ONE (of 232) Elite 8 teams seeded worse than #11.
  • Advance exactly ONE or TWO #1 seeds to the Final Four. The Final Four has included exactly one or two #1 seeds 23 of 29 years.
  • Advance NO team worse than a #6 seed to the Championship game. Only ONE team worse than #6 has made it in last 28 years.
  • Pick a #4 seed or better to win it all. For 25 straight years the champion has been a #4 seed or better.

You can use these tips to play in CBS Local’s Bracket Challenge, to compete for great prizes.

The tips and odds are courtesy of RJ Bell of

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