This year, tens of millions of brackets have been added to major online NCAA tournament games. In the middle of the second round of the Sunday round, all but one had played the wrong game.
The exception: "Midway", a staple entered our Capital One NCAA game "March Madness Bracket Challenge", which was amazingly 48-for-48, making every game in two rounds of the NCAA 2019 tournament correct was predicted. It's worth repeating again: The middle class has not missed a single game yet.
We've been following braces for years and before this tournament, the longest series we've ever seen was 39 games in a row. That was an incredible achievement. This destroyed it.
On Monday, we identified the owner of the record breaking "Center Road" bracket. His name is Gregg Nigl and he is a 40-year-old neuropsychologist living in Columbus, Ohio.
When we called Nigl, he had no idea that his bracket was perfect, let alone that it was the most verifiable bracket in the history of March Madness.
To find out more about how we came here, visit our Perfect Bracket Tracker, where we show in real-time how we've made dozens of millions of brackets into one. We will also follow the rest of the tournament there.
Here is a short version of the conversation with Nigl:
Gregg Nigl: This seems somehow unreal. How do I know this is real?
NCAA.com: Are you near a computer now?
(The main story on NCAA.com when we called was about Nigl's Bracket)
NCAA: If you go to NCAA.com, you see
] GN: I thought I remember a message about a child …
NCAA: Yes, there was a message from 201
GN: Okay. (Nigl calls the speaker, and you can hear his wife in the background, "Is this your brace?") Yes, that's my brace. Okay, I do … yes, I see it. (His wife laughs in the background.)
NCAA: Yes, congratulations!
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GN: Yes, that's the clause of my friend [group] to the he invited me and I almost did not fill it out because we just did it for fun and I'm in a few others at work and stuff. Almost not filled.
NCAA: That's amazing. Have you filled in brackets for a while?
GN: Oh yes, yes. I do it every year. I would probably say 10 to 15 years now.
Top: Gregg NIgl's Bracket
NCAA: How many brackets have you completed this year?
NCAA: Do you have a strategy for this?
GN: I always observe Brackology, I listen to them, consider what they say. And frankly, sometimes it's the teams that I like better. Some cities I like better, some teams I like better, some coaches that I like better. I also look at the ranking. It's a combination of things. Do not get me wrong, a lot of it is luck. I know that. I will not say that I knew every matchup by all means .
NCAA: It's so hard to calculate the exact odds of a perfect brace, but if all the game were a coin toss, the odds would be about 1 to 9.2 quintillion.
GN: * Laughing * Wow.
NCAA: There are 15 games available. We are all rooted for you.
GN: So wait, you say, I'm the first person to ever do this? * Laugh *
NCAA: Right. As far as we can tell, you are the first person in the history of the tournament who has ever done so.
(Nigl's wife is heard in the background again, "That's what he said.")
GN: I know, but it's unbelievable ,
NCAA: We track tens of millions of brackets every year [we started in 2016] leaving you with hundreds of millions of brackets. None of them has ever done well.
GN: Wow. Wow.
NCAA: Have you seen the games?
GN: Yes, we are on holiday right now. We drive from Ohio to Vermont, which is a pretty long journey. We stopped in New York to watch my Michigan Wolverines play. I watched, I listened to the games on Sirius while we were driving.
NCAA: Did you stick to your brackets at all?
GN: It's funny, the one in which I'm not so perfect checking, because it was only among a few friends. And frankly, I do not even know if my other friends filled one out. Maybe I'm the only one in the group who filled one, I do not know.
But yes, I did four. And I almost did not fill it because I was actually sick on Thursday, and I filled it in on Thursday morning just before the deadline, and I almost did not do it. I lay in bed, I was sick and called to work. I almost went back to bed and did not fill it in, but I did it anyway because I was feeling sick because it was my friend's [group].
Honestly, when I received this message, I thought it was a joke. or a prank or something, you know?
NCAA: I can definitely understand that. How well do you usually do in your bracket groups?
GN: I'm doing decent. I won it a few times at work.
That's wild. I can not even believe it.
NCAA: Yeah, that's pretty crazy. I do not know if you watched last night, but in the last game of the night, UC Irvine Vs. Oregon, UC Irvine took a 14-0 lead in the second half and they opted for Oregon
GN: I did not watch. I went to bed, I was tired. I had no idea that this happened at all.
We followed later in the day with Nigl to confirm that he really was the owner of Center Road. The conversation quickly returned to the size of his performance.
GN: After I got off the phone with you, I started writing with some people and reading a few things. And yes, wow, I understand it now.
It's a pretty big deal.
You can follow Nigl's clip on the glasses here to strive for perfection.