UT Dallas Magazine

Navigating March Madness

Woman looking at March Madness bracket on office computer(Photo by Ricardo Castrillón)

Employers should view March Madness as an opportunity for productivity

March Madness is upon us, and while tournament pools may be a welcome distraction for some workers, employers are left dealing with the loss of productivity.

Dr. Orlando Richard, associate professor of organizations, strategy and international management, said instead of accepting March Madness as a time for lost productivity, employers should see it as an opportunity for employees to be “sports engaged” and broadly energetic.

“There are many ways to avoid productivity loss if both the companies and the employee are willing to create win-win situations,” Richard said. “However, if companies try to have business as usual, and employees feel that they are missing out on something, it could have negative implications.”

Richard encourages companies to be proactive in finding ways to exploit March Madness for productivity advantages. Getting together to watch a game as a team could build cohesion outside of work, which may result in positive implications on the job.

In an office environment, companies can offer flexible schedules. Employees could come in early and leave early or pick which 40 hours they want to work.

Telecommuting is another option if the manager is assured that productivity will stay on par with expectations.

“When employees see that the company is in tune with their extracurricular activities and willing to be flexible to satisfy their desires, this could increase the employee’s job satisfaction and affective commitment to the company, and ultimately it could improve their productivity during March Madness and in the future,” Richard said.

—Brittany Magelssen

1 in 9.2 quintillion(Graphic by Rachael Drury)

Odds of choosing perfect NCAA bracket are long — but not impossible

If you’re hoping to fill out a perfect bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, you might want to lower your expectations for picking all the winners.

According to Dr. Nathan Williams, assistant professor of mathematical sciences, if you pick your winners randomly, you have less than a one in 9.2 quintillion chance of choosing only the winners out of 64 teams.

“Filling out a bracket consists of choosing one of two teams for each of the 63 games,” Williams said. “So there are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 ways to fill out the bracket, and only one of those will be correct throughout. If your choices are made randomly, this is the chance of flipping a fair coin 63 times and having it land heads every time.”

The odds get longer if you include the “First Four” initial games that are played on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the 64-team tournament begins Thursday, March 15.

“If we count those four initial games, there are a total of 67 single-elimination games played,” Williams said. “Then the chance of a perfect bracket becomes one in about 147 quintillion.”

But before you toss your bracket in the trash, Williams said not all hope is lost for the savvy basketball fan.

“These seemingly long odds probably don’t apply to a typical fan filling out a bracket, because most people do not fill out their brackets randomly,” he said. “For example, they may know it is unlikely that a number 16 seed will upset a number one seed, or they may be linking their choices to things like their alma mater or team mascots.

“Case in point: I’m originally from Philadelphia and I have Villanova to win it all.”

–Amanda Siegfried