Every February and March, a certain area of study takes over basketball — bracketology.
On this page, we'll take a deep dive into bracketology: What it is, what you need to know about the bracket itself, and updating predictions for the entire NCAA tournament field from NCAA.com basketball expert Andy Katz.
What is bracketology?
Bracketology is the practice of predicting the field and seeding for all 68 teams in the NCAA tournament and/or the outcomes for all games in the tournament. It is a made-up "-ology", sadly, so don't change your major just yet.
How does the NCAA tournament bracket work?
The modern NCAA tournament consists of 68 teams, playing in a single-elimination tournament.
All 68 of these teams are seeded based on their skill level. Seeding is an official ranking compiled by the tournament's Selection Committee — a 10-member group of school and conference administrators responsible for selecting, seeding and bracketing the field. The results of this process are revealed to the public on Selection Sunday, when the full bracket is announced.
There are two types of seeding in the modern tournament.
First is the region seed, which is most often what people are referring to when they mention a team's seed. The NCAA tournament bracket is split into four regions that correspond to the locations in the United States where the opening rounds are played: East, West, Midwest, and South. Each region has 16 teams, which are each ranked 1 (the highest) through 16 (the lowest).
Second is the overall seed, which ranks each of the 68 teams in the tournament 1 (the highest) through 68 (the lowest). This is used to help determine which seeds are placed in which regions. For fairness, the committee tries not to place the best 1 seed in the same region as the best 2 seed, and so on.
This process serves to reward better teams with easier routes to the championship and also spreads the best teams throughout the bracket so that no region is unfairly lopsided and competition is as fair as possible.
Bracketology usually involves college basketball analysts predicting how this seeding process will play out, creating a mock bracket.
What does this year’s bracket look like?
Here’s what this year’s bracket looks like (click or tap here to open it as a .PDF):
2019 NCAA Tournament Schedule And Venues
So, when does all this actually happen? Here is the full schedule for 2019's NCAA tournament:
How can you watch 2019 NCAA Tournament games?
Every single March Madness game will be broadcast on either TBS, TNT, TruTV or CBS. You can also stream every game on March Madness Live.
How can you get involved in bracketology?
By filling out a bracket! Our Bracket Challenge Game, the official bracket game of the NCAA, opens immediately after the committee announces the field on Selection Sunday, and you can try your hand at predicting who will win each game of the tournament.
The brackets will lock on that Thursday, before the first game of the first round begins, so get your picks in before then. How hard is filling out a bracket? Well no one has ever gotten a perfect bracket, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.
Latest bracketology predictions:
NCAA.com's Andy Katz filed almost a dozen bracket predictions throughout the 2018-19 season. Here was his final prediction, in which he got 67 of 68 final teams correct:
The complete March Madness field of 68 predicted on Selection Sunday
It’s officially Selection Sunday, and even though there are just a few hours until the full field of 68 is announced for real, there’s still plenty that’s up in the air.
Our own NCAA.com basketball analyst Andy Katz has traveled the country all season long. He's watched games. He's talked to the best players and coaches. And through it all he's sifted through the mountain of information he's collected to put together full bracket predictions for the March Madness field.
All of that built up to this, the final bracket prediction of the 2019 season.
Before we break down the predicted field, let’s take a look at the bracket itself. (Tap or click here to open the bracket in a new window or tab).
And here’s that bracket in table form:
(Teams that have won their conference tournament and clinched an automatic bid to the tournament are bolded. Their seed still won't be decided until Sunday, but they are guaranteed a spot in the tournament.)
|16||(Iona/NC Central)||Prairie View||Gardner-Webb||(FDU/N. Dakota St.|
|9||Utah St.||Minnesota||Ole Miss||Washington|
|12||Liberty||New Mexico St.||Murray St.||St. Mary's|
|4||Kansas||Virginia Tech||Purdue||Kansas St.|
|3||LSU||Florida St.||Texas Tech||Houston|
|14||*Harvard/Yale||*SLU/St. Bonaventure||Northern Kentucky||*Georgia St./UT Arlington|
|10||Arizona St.||UCF||Ohio St.||VCU|
*Represents possible automatic bids from the same conference
North Carolina is a 1 seed for the first time all year
The Tar Heels couldn’t complete the three-peat against Duke, falling to the Blue Devils 74-73 in the ACC tournament semifinals, but few teams finished out the season as hot as North Carolina. In the final 17 games, UNC lost just twice — 69-61 against Virginia, and by one point to Duke in a game that could have gone either way. In the process, they picked up six wins against ranked teams, including three in the top 10. That performance didn’t go unnoticed by Katz, who bumped North Carolina up to the top line of his bracket prediction for the first time all season. If it’s any consolation to Tar Heel fans, the three years UNC has won a national championship under Roy Williams, the Tar Heels have lost in the ACC tournament semifinals.
Joining UNC as a 1 seed are Duke, Virginia, and Gonzaga. The Blue Devils beat Florida State for the ACC crown, while Virginia and Gonzaga each finished the year with just three losses.
Seton Hall and Iowa State show off in conference tournaments
The Pirates lost the Big East championship in heartbreaking fashion, missing a last-second potential game-winner to fall to Villanova 74-72. But what a performance by Seton Hall to finish the regular season. In a span of five games, the Pirates knocked off Georgetown, Marquette twice, beat Villanova once, and were inches from pulling it off a second time. That stretch gave Katz good reason to bump Seton Hall from a 10 to an 8 seed. What’s more, few players in the country have been as hot as Myles Powell, who is averaging 27.6 points over the last seven games. The junior guard scored 30 or more eight times this season, and fewer than 15 just three times. That type of star can take a team far in the tournament.
What a way to bounce back for Iowa State. The Cyclones closed the regular season by losing five of their final six games, including the last three in a row. And then they beat Baylor, Kansas State, and Kansas in three straight days to take the Big 12 tournament title. Iowa State now has multiple wins over both Kansas and Kansas State, and split games with Texas Tech. That’s a pretty strong resume, and was enough for Katz to move them from an 8 to a 6 seed in his final prediction.
VCU and UCF suffer disappointing losses
VCU was looking as hot as ever coming into the A-10 tournament. The Rams were in first place in the conference, 25-6 on the year, and had just won 12 straight. Then, they lost 75-70 in the A-10 quarterfinals to eight-seeded Rhode Island, which finished the year 18-15. To be fair, VCU played most of the game without star guard Marcus Evans, who was injured in the first half. But that alone doesn’t excuse the loss, which prompted Katz to drop the Rams from a 7 to a 10 seed.
UCF had about as strong of a final stretch as it could hope for, knocking off No. 8 Houston on the road, then beating No. 20 Cincinnati before losing a close one at Temple. The Knights finished the season as the four-seed in the AAC, earning a first-round bye. And then they got demolished by Memphis, 79-55. Not a good look heading into Selection Sunday. As a result, Katz moved UCF from an 8 seed to a 10.
Andy Katz's field of 68
Here is Katz’s full seed list in order. Beneath it, you’ll find a list of all 68 teams in Katz's latest field, with how their seeding has changed since the last prediction:
|47||St. Mary's (CA)||12||*AQ|
|48||New Mexico State||12||*AQ|
|58||Georgia State/UT Arlington||14||AQ|
|66||North Dakota State||16||*AQ|
|68||North Carolina Central||16||*AQ|
First four out: Belmont, Texas, Indiana, NC State
Here is how every team's seed has changed since Katz's last prediction:
|Overall seed||Team||Bracket 11 seed||Bracket 10 seed||Movement|
|47||St. Mary's (CA)||12||N/A||N/A|
|48||New Mexico State||12||12||0|
|58||Georgia State/UT Arlington||14||14||0|
|66||North Dakota State||16||N/A||N/A|
|68||North Carolina Central||16||N/A||N/A|