1 in how many quintillion? Saginaw native, UM fan has historic perfect bracket

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Even Michigan State coach Tom Izzo would have to be shocked that someone still has a perfect bracket.

It's never happened, a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket.

With odds in the 1-in-several-quintillions range, you can understand why.

But one man from Columbus, Ohio — who happened to grow up in Saginaw, Mich. — is putting that forever streak in as much jeopardy as we've ever seen. Through 48 games of the NCAA Tournament, he has 48 right and none wrong.

According to NCAA.com, we haven't ever seen a perfect bracket entering the Sweet 16. Officially, the NCAA says it's been tracking brackets since 2016, meaning hundreds of millions of entries, and has never seen anyone go 48 for 48.

It's so far-fetched, famous rich dude Warren Buffet once famously offered anyone $1 billion (as in billion, with a "B") if he or she could fill out the perfect bracket.

"I always watch bracketology, I listen to them, take into account what they say," Gregg Nigl, 40, the lucky man (or genius, depending on your perspective), told NCAA.com. "And then, honestly, sometimes it’s which teams I like better. Some cities I like better, some teams I like better, some coaches I like better. I do look at the rankings too. It’s a combination of things. Don’t get me wrong, a bunch of this is luck. I know that. I’m not going to say I knew every matchup by any means."

The first two rounds of this year's NCAA Tournament were mostly "chalk," meaning a whole lot of favorites have advanced to the Sweet 16. Still, Nigl's bracket, listed as "center road," is the only one still perfect. His biggest upset was UC Irvine, a 13 seed he said he picked to win its first game because he just recently visited friends out there. He had Oregon beating UC Irvine to get to the Sweet 16.

The previous best streak to start a bracket is 39 games, per NCAA.com.

Now, Nigl is 15 picks from total perfection.

Nigl has all the No. 1 and 2 seeds in his Elite Eight (meaning, Michigan and Michigan State), with Gonzaga over Kentucky, 77-71, in the national-championship game.

This is one of his four brackets, he told NCAA.com. Interestingly, he almost didn't even fill out this entry, because it was just with a small group of friends, and he was sick Thursday, the first day of the first-round games.

He ended up filling it out Thursday morning.

A neuropsychologist, Nigl attended Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central, according to his Facebook page. In the NCAA.com interview, he called Michigan "my" Wolverines — catching the attention of NCAA Tournament sponsor Buick, which is offering him free tickets to see Michigan play Texas Tech in the Sweet 16 in Anaheim, Calif., on Thursday.

"We think someone who had picked the perfect bracket should be able to see that unfold first-hand," Buick said in a statement.

The Nigl publicity tour seems like it's about to get wild. He also appeared on the "Today" show this week.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984