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Alex Hermann's bracket remains perfect after two upset filled rounds. That's a feat akin to winning the lottery twice. Can the autistic statistics wizard become the first to finish the tournament perfect? The public is watching.  (Source: NBC Chicago)
Teen will win nothing, but may eventually profit from attention

An autistic 17-year-old from the Chicago area has reportedly beat one in 13,460,000 odds and perfectly predicted the first two rounds of NCAA College Basketball's March Madness tournament.  His bracket survived beautifully, even as competitors crumbled amid a sea of shocking upsets.

Most would have laughed at the boy's predictions.  Northern Iowa over Kansas?  Cornell over Wisconsin?  Ohio over Georgetown?  Pretty unlikely -- but they all proved to be entirely correct.  States the young man, Alex Hermann, "It's amazing."

Alex is reportedly incredibly gifted in math and statistics and used his talents to divine the results of the tournament.  A Glenbrook South High School student, he states, "I'm good at math.  I'm kind of good at math and at stats I see on TV during the game."

There's some question about the bracket's legitimacy.  Alex entered the only of CBS's three bracket challenges with no prizes.  That challenge allows participants to change their predictions at any time.  Hermann's parents and his 24-year-old brother Andrew, who helped him enter his picks into CBS' bracket manager insist, though, that the bracket is 100 percent original.

Andrew's own bracket, like that of many, rests in shambles.  However, if he and his parents are to be believed, his brother has achieved a feat as probable as winning a major state lottery two times.  

If that is true it's truly unfortunate as he could have made a great deal of money.  One of CBS Sports' bracket challenges offers $5,000 to the winner of each round.  ESPN also offers cash prizes -- and its leader already has incorrectly predicted 4 games.  A perfect bracket would earn $1M USD from Yahoo or $13M USD from SportsBook.com.

Now that Alex's bracket is out there it should be interesting to see whether he can continue on his stunning success, this time verified by public scrutiny.  Alex predicts Purdue to win the entire tournament.  That seems extremely unlikely, if you listen to sports observers.  Purdue (4) faces top-seeded Duke in the tournament's Sweet Sixteen.

It would be easy to dismiss the prediction as favoritism; Alex's beloved brother went to the school.  However, you never know, he just might be right.

The odds of a perfect bracket are 1 in 1,000,000,000,000.  In recorded internet history there has 
never been a perfect bracket.  

One can only hope that if Alex miraculously achieves the feat, that he receives 
some reward from somebody.  You can view his bracket here





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Huh?
By bubbastrangelove on 3/24/2010 11:10:25 AM , Rating: 5
So, what's the correlation between autism and picking a good bracket? Does this mean I want him rolling the dice at the craps table next time I'm in Vegas too?

"Lisa, I want to buy your rock."




RE: Huh?
By bighairycamel on 3/24/2010 11:29:22 AM , Rating: 5
As long as you make it back for Judge Wapner at 7.


RE: Huh?
By DoeBoy on 3/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: Huh?
By Brandon Hill on 3/24/2010 11:35:42 AM , Rating: 2
Never seen Rain Man? :)


RE: Huh?
By MrBlastman on 3/24/2010 2:29:48 PM , Rating: 5
D-definitely. Definitely Rain Man. Definitely.


RE: Huh?
By bubbastrangelove on 3/24/2010 11:50:10 AM , Rating: 2
He still goes to K-Mart for his underwear.


RE: Huh?
By Morphine06 on 3/25/2010 10:23:54 AM , Rating: 2
Hanes 32


RE: Huh?
By frobizzle on 3/25/2010 12:01:27 PM , Rating: 2
Of course I don't have my underwear. I'm definitely not wearing my underwear.


On Dailytech because.. ?
By xprojected on 3/24/2010 11:39:04 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting story, but, I fail to see what it has to do at all with technology, or science, and no, feats of probability do not count.




RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By esupan on 3/24/2010 11:42:21 AM , Rating: 2
It was mentioned on ESPN radio between 7:30 and 8am CST.


RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By porkpie on 3/24/2010 7:12:43 PM , Rating: 2
It's not even that much of a feat of probability, given there's 4M+ people predicting. Even at the stated odds (1:13M), there's a 1:3 chance of someone getting them all right just from random picks.

Worse, the stated odds are wildly exaggerated, as you can pick a large number of games with odds better than 50:50.


RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By adiposity on 3/25/2010 4:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it's not random, though, so those odds may be worse than 1:3. Especially since some heavy favorites did not do as well as expected. Since the majority will pick the favorites, the chances of a perfect bracket are much lower than even random.

That said, this is some serious BS. Not even worth discussing since anyone can change their bracket! I wonder why we don't have more perfect brackets...


RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By porkpie on 3/26/2010 12:45:49 AM , Rating: 2
"Since the majority will pick the favorites, the chances of a perfect bracket are much lower than even random."

You have that exactly in reverse. The less random the outcome (i.e. the more favorites, and the more heavily favored they are), the higher the chance of picking successfully.

I've heard this argument many times before that, because 'people pick favorites', the chances of picking 10 games successfully is worse than 1:2^10. It's based on fallacious thinking...which a little reflection should probably convince you of.


RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By adiposity on 3/26/2010 4:06:54 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't mean in general, I meant in this case...since the favorites are doing poorly this year it would reduce the chance of a perfect bracket compared to a year where more favorites do well.

But I see your point, which may still apply even this year.


RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By porkpie on 3/26/2010 5:19:19 PM , Rating: 2
"I didn't mean in general, I meant in this case..."

Ok, fair enough. I withdraw my statement.

But I have heard many people claim this is true in the general case. It's a rather common fallacy.


RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By omnicronx on 3/29/2010 2:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That said, this is some serious BS. Not even worth discussing since anyone can change their bracket! I wonder why we don't have more perfect brackets...
Nah, thats just the cbssports one, he just has edit mode on. The vast majority of people (including myself) have this turned off and must chose all their picks throughout every round before the tournament started.


RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By omnicronx on 3/29/2010 2:09:35 PM , Rating: 2
Huh? Its completely random. Every single person has the same 13 million : 1 odds. That does not mean if 13 million people make a bracket that someone will win.

That being said, this is not a real bracket, he had edit mode on which allows you to change your picks each round. As teams get hot he can shift his picks, thats not a real bracket.

I guess you don't watch basketball either, there were a lot of upsets in the first round. Heck only 1 top seed made it to the final four!!!


RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By porkpie on 4/1/2010 12:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
"That does not mean if 13 million people make a bracket that someone will win."

It means that, if 13 million make a bracket then one is expected to win, yes. Simple probability.


RE: On Dailytech because.. ?
By Mint on 4/3/2010 5:39:24 PM , Rating: 2
If they all made random picks, yeah. But people have a flock mentality when it comes to filling out brackets, and it's actually pretty logical.

For any one person, his best odds at maximizing the number of correct picks is to choose the favourites. Even if you're aware that every year has some upsets, picking a few will just make your accuracy go down because you don't know which one.

So in a year full of upsets, the odds of one guy out of 13 million filling in a perfect bracket is actually lower than stumbling upon a perfect bracket in 13 million randomly filled ones.


I remain highly skeptical
By UNCjigga on 3/24/2010 11:29:42 AM , Rating: 5
So, he just happens to enter a bracket in the one game that lets you change your predictions at ANY TIME (who does that??) and he's 100% accurate??? Unless his claims can be verified by CBS Sports, I remain highly highly skeptical...




RE: I remain highly skeptical
By spwrozek on 3/24/2010 11:34:40 AM , Rating: 2
ya seeing as the 4+ million brackets submitted on ESPN and ZERO had Kansas losing last round I find this hard to believe. It doesn't really matter though because Purdue is not going to win it all.

Also I would think that I would have seen this on ESPN or heard on ESPN Radio and it hasn't even been mentioned to this point.


RE: I remain highly skeptical
By Danger D on 3/24/2010 12:58:56 PM , Rating: 1
I heard it on ESPN this morning.


RE: I remain highly skeptical
By spwrozek on 3/24/2010 4:29:54 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed they just discussed it on The Herd. They didn't go into the details around the bracket and type it was though.


He missed one!
By PrezWeezy on 3/26/2010 2:46:26 AM , Rating: 3
He had Syracuse beating Butler for the Elite Eight, but Butler actually won. Still no perfect bracket in recorded history.




RE: He missed one!
By Spacecomber on 3/26/2010 12:45:13 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I saw that. I was hoping that I could count on Tennessee winning tonight, too. Now, I just don't know. ;-)


RE: He missed one!
By PrezWeezy on 3/26/2010 7:59:43 PM , Rating: 2
I kept praying he was wrong about WV and UW, but he got that one right.


RE: He missed one!
By Spacecomber on 3/27/2010 12:14:55 PM , Rating: 2
Only 5 of 8 correct in the 3rd round (when he was locked in by everyone lookng at his predictions), which does lend credence to the skeptics that this thing never was what it was claimed to be.

He was right about TN, though. :-) I wonder if his predictions for them will hold true through the next round, too. TN had never been in the final 8, before, let alone the final four. Sorry about UW. Nevertheless UWV and UK should be a good game, today (#1 and #2 in the East).


Math and statistics?!
By Majes on 3/25/2010 10:39:10 AM , Rating: 2
Being talented with mathematics or statistics is not nearly enough to pick a good bracket...

I mean to an extent sure you can look at the numbers and pick a solid bracket, but that is not nearly enough. Look at the Kansas vs Northern Iowa game. If you compare the statistics of the teams then Kansas comes out ahead. If you compare team talent and team resources then Kansas comes out ahead. If you factor in the leagues they play in Kansas comes out way ahead. The only stat that mattered that day would have been someone knowing that Collins would miss all his 3's and basically play a terrible overall game...

You don't know things that like from statistics.
You don't know playstyles and pace from statistics.
You don't know when some unknown bench player will go off for 20 some points like the kid from Louisville did against Syracuse earlier in the year.

I use statistics and I watch the teams... I watch watch watch! But I didn't pick Georgetown to lose to Ohio and I didn't pick Kansas to lose to UNI... No one who knows what they were doing made those picks in a serious bracket.

Good for this kid if he made some awesome picks in a bracket. But don't tell me its "cause I'm good at math"...




RE: Math and statistics?!
By Shining Arcanine on 3/27/2010 8:26:20 AM , Rating: 2
Just because you cannot see a way to to apply statistics to this problem does not mean it is impossible to apply statistics to it.


Confused
By jnolen on 3/24/2010 5:52:19 PM , Rating: 3
He enters a bracket where he can change his picks at any time?
1) CBS, why would you even have a bracket challenge like that? You lost me on how that is a challenge.
2) When and how can you change picks? Can you adjust the next round up till the games start, or at any time?




Insanity
By porkpie on 3/24/2010 12:07:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That challenge allows participants to change their predictions at any time. Hermann's parents and his 24-year-old brother Andrew, who helped him enter his picks into CBS' bracket manager insist, though, that the bracket is 100 percent original.
So in other words, because Dad and Bro say he didn't cheat, we have to believe him?

What in the world is this story doing on a tech site anyway?




Odds of Winning
By WW102 on 3/25/2010 2:09:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The odds of a perfect bracket are 1 in 1,000,000,000,000.


Assuming 50:50 chance for each game, arent the actual odds for a perfect bracket 2^63? That puts the number above way under the mark.




Randi... Anyone?
By shikigamild on 3/27/2010 2:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
He should apply for the James Randi 1 million dollar challenge so that we could laugh when we is completely owned by Randi exposing him.




So we are no longer proofreading?
By ChrisHF on 3/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: So we are no longer proofreading?
By wushuktl on 3/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: So we are no longer proofreading?
By ChrisHF on 3/24/2010 4:44:38 PM , Rating: 1
No need for a medal, just higher quality journalism.


By jrollins006 on 3/25/2010 8:45:45 AM , Rating: 2
wow guy, can you not read or understand sarcasm?

quote:
A perfect bracket would earn $1M USD from Yahoo or $13M USD from SportsBook.com.


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