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Daniel Wilco | NCAA.com | March 19, 2019

March Madness bracketology: The ultimate guide

Andy Katz crowns his NCAA tournament champion

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.

TOURNAMENT EXPLAINED: What is the history of March Madness and how does it work?

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.

SELECTION COMMITTEE: What is the committee's role, and who is on it?

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):

The 2019 NCAA tournament bracket.

 

2019 NCAA Tournament Schedule And Venues

So, when does all this actually happen? Here is the full schedule for 2019's NCAA tournament:

March Madness 2019 dates, schedule, live streams and TV networks

Game Livestream Time (ET) TV Site
Sweet 16, Thursday, March 28        
Florida State vs. Gonzaga March Madness Live 7:09 pm CBS Anaheim, CA
Purdue vs. Tennessee March Madness Live 7:29 pm TBS Louisville, KY
Texas Tech vs. Michigan March Madness Live 9:39 pm CBS Anaheim, CA
Oregon vs. Virginia March Madness Live 9:57 pm TBS Louisville, KY
Sweet 16, Friday, March 29        
LSU vs. Michigan State March Madness Live 7:09 pm CBS Washington, D.C.
Auburn vs. North Carolina March Madness Live 7:29 pm TBS Kansas City, MO
Virginia Tech vs. Duke March Madness Live 9:39 pm CBS Washington, D.C.
Houston vs. Kentucky March Madness Live 9:57 pm TBS Kansas City, MO
Saturday, March 30        
West Regional Final March Madness Live 6:00 pm or 8:30 pm TBS Anaheim, CA
South Regional Final March Madness Live 6:00 pm or 8:30 pm TBS Louisville, KY
Sunday, March 31        
East Regional Final March Madness Live 2:00 pm or 4:55 pm CBS Washington, D.C.
Midwest Regional Final March Madness Live 2:00 pm or 4:55 pm CBS Kansas City, MO
Saturday, April 6        
Final Four March Madness Live 6:00 pm CBS Minneapolis, MN
Final Four March Madness Live 8:30 pm CBS Minneapolis, MN
Monday, April 8        
National Championship March Madness Live 9:00 pm CBS Minneapolis, MN
March Madness 2019, so far        
First Four, Tuesday, March 19        
Fairleigh Dickinson 82, Prairie View A&M 76 March Madness Live 6:30 pm truTV Dayton, OH
Belmont 81, Temple 70  March Madness Live 9:00 pm TruTV Dayton, OH
First Four, Wednesday, March 20        
North Dakota State 78, NC Central 74 March Madness Live  6:30 pm truTV Dayton, OH
Arizona State 74, St. John's 65 March Madness Live 9:00 pm truTV Dayton, OH
First round, Thursday, March 21        
Minnesota 86, Louisville 76 March Madness Live 12:15 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
LSU 79, Yale 74 March Madness Live 12:40 pm truTV Jacksonville, FL
Auburn 78, New Mexico State 77 March Madness Live  1:30 pm TNT Salt Lake City, UT
Florida State 76, Vermont 69 March Madness Live 2:00 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Michigan State 76, Bradley 65 March Madness Live  2:45 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
Maryland 79, Belmont 77 March Madness Live 3:10 pm truTV Jacksonville, FL
Kansas 87, Northeastern 53 March Madness Live 4:00 pm TNT Salt Lake City, UT
Murray State 83, Marquette 64 March Madness Live 4:30 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Florida 70, Nevada 61 March Madness Live 6:50 pm TNT Des Moines, IA
Kentucky 79, Abilene Christian 44 March Madness Live 7:10 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Villanova 61, Saint Mary's 57 March Madness Live 7:20 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Gonzaga 87, Fairleigh Dickinson 49 March Madness Live 7:27 pm truTV Salt Lake City, UT
Michigan 74, Montana 55 March Madness Live 9:20 pm TNT Des Moines, IA
Wofford 84, Seton Hall 68 March Madness Live 9:40 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Purdue 61, Old Dominion 48 March Madness Live 9:50 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Baylor 78, Syracuse 69 March Madness Live 9:57 pm truTV Salt Lake City, UT
First round, Friday, March 22        
Iowa 79, Cincinnati 72  March Madness Live 12:15 pm CBS Columbus, OH
Oklahoma 95, Mississippi 72 March Madness Live 12:40 pm truTV Columbia, SC
Texas Tech 72, Northern Kentucky 57 March Madness Live 1:30 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
UC Irvine 70, Kansas State 64 March Madness Live 2:00 pm  TBS San Jose, CA
Tennessee 77, Colgate 70 March Madness Live 2:45 pm CBS Columbus, OH
Virginia 71, Gardner-Webb 56 March Madness Live 3:10 pm truTV Columbia, SC
Buffalo 91, Arizona State 74 March Madness Live 4:00 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
Oregon 72, Wisconsin 54 March Madness Live 4:30 pm TBS San Jose, CA
Washington 78, Utah State 61 March Madness Live 6:50 pm TNT Columbus, OH
Duke 85, North Dakota State 62 March Madness Live 7:10 pm CBS Columbia, SC
Houston 84, Georgia State 55 March Madness Live 7:20 pm TBS Tulsa, OK 
Liberty 80, Mississippi State 76 March Madness Live 7:27 pm truTV San Jose, CA
North Carolina 88, Iona 73 March Madness Live 9:20 pm TNT Columbus, OH
UCF 73, VCU 58 March Madness Live 9:40 pm CBS Columbia, SC
Ohio State 62, Iowa State 59 March Madness Live 9:50 pm TBS Tulsa, OK
Virginia Tech 66, Saint Louis 52 March Madness Live  9:57 pm truTV San Jose, CA
Second round, Saturday, March 23        
LSU 69, Maryland 67 March Madness Live 12:10 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Kentucky 62, Wofford 56 March Madness Live 2:40 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Michigan 64, Florida 49 March Madness Live 5:15 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
Florida State 90, Murray State 62 March Madness Live 6:10 pm TNT Hartford, CT
Gonzaga 83, Baylor 71 March Madness Live 7:10 pm TBS Salt Lake City, UT
Michigan State 70, Minnesota 50 March Madness Live 7:45 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
Purdue 87, Villanova 61 March Madness Live 8:40 pm TNT Hartford, CT
Auburn 89, Kansas 75 March Madness Live 9:40 pm TBS Salt Lake City, UT
Second round, Sunday, March 24        
Tennessee 83, Iowa 77 (OT) March Madness Live 12:10 pm CBS Columbus, OH
North Carolina 81, Washington 59 March Madness Live 2:40 pm CBS Columbus, OH
Duke 77, UCF 76 March Madness Live 5:25 pm CBS Columbia, SC
Texas Tech 78, Buffalo 58 March Madness Live 6:10 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
Virginia Tech 67, Liberty 58 March Madness Live 7:10 pm TBS San Jose, CA
Virginia 63, Oklahoma 51 March Madness Live 7:45 pm truTV Columbia, SC
Houston 74, Ohio State 59 March Madness Live 8:40 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
Oregon 73, UC Irvine 54 March Madness Live 9:40 pm TBS San Jose, CA

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).

Andy Katz's NCAA tournament bracket prediction March 17

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.)

  East West South Midwest
1 Duke Gonzaga Virginia North Carolina
16 (Iona/NC Central) Prairie View Gardner-Webb (FDU/N. Dakota St.
         
8 Iowa Syracuse Baylor Seton Hall
9 Utah St. Minnesota Ole Miss Washington
         
5 Buffalo Auburn Villanova Wisconsin
12 Liberty New Mexico St. Murray St. St. Mary's
         
4 Kansas Virginia Tech Purdue Kansas St.
13 Vermont UC-Irvine Old Dominion Northeastern
         
6 Marquette Iowa St. Cincinnati Maryland
11 (Temple/Oklahoma) Oregon Florida (TCU/St. John's)
         
3 LSU Florida St. Texas Tech Houston
14 *Harvard/Yale *SLU/St. Bonaventure Northern Kentucky *Georgia St./UT Arlington
         
7 Louisville Mississippi St. Nevada Wofford
10 Arizona St. UCF Ohio St. VCU
         
2 Michigan Michigan St. Kentucky Tennessee
15 Abilene Christian Colgate Montana Bradley

*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. 

Zion Williamson after Duke's ACC tournament win: 'I'm glad to be part of something so special'

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. 

Florida's Andrew Nembhard reacts to upsetting LSU in the SEC tournament

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:

Overall seed Team Seed AQ?
1 Duke 1 *AQ
2 Virginia 1  
3 North Carolina 1  
4 Gonzaga 1  
5 Michigan State 2 AQ
6 Tennessee 2 AQ
7 Kentucky 2  
8 Michigan 2  
9 Houston 3 AQ
10 Texas Tech 3  
11 Florida State 3  
12 LSU 3  
13 Purdue 4  
14 Kansas 4  
15 Kansas State 4  
16 Virginia Tech 4  
17 Wisconsin 5  
18 Villanova 5 *AQ
19 Buffalo 5 *AQ
20 Auburn 5  
21 Cincinnati 6  
22 Iowa State 6 *AQ
23 Marquette 6  
24 Maryland 6  
25 Mississippi State 7  
26 Nevada 7  
27 Louisville 7  
28 Wofford 7 *AQ
29 Seton Hall 8  
30 Syracuse 8  
31 Iowa 8  
32 Baylor 8  
33 Washington 9  
34 Utah State 9 *AQ
35 Minnesota 9  
36 Mississippi 9  
37 VCU 10  
38 Arizona State 10  
39 UCF 10  
40 Ohio State 10  
41 Florida 11  
42 Temple 11  
43 Oklahoma 11  
44 TCU 11  
45 St. John's 11  
46 Oregon 11 *AQ
47 St. Mary's (CA) 12 *AQ
48 New Mexico State 12 *AQ
49 Murray State 12 *AQ
50 Liberty 12 *AQ
51 UC-Irvine 13 *AQ
52 Vermont 13 *AQ
53 Northeastern 13 *AQ
54 Old Dominion 13 *AQ
55 Harvard/Yale 14 AQ
56 SLU/St. Bonaventure 14 AQ
57 Northern Kentucky 14 *AQ
58 Georgia State/UT Arlington 14 AQ
59 Montana 15 *AQ
60 Colgate 15 *AQ
61 Bradley 15 *AQ
62 Abilene Christian 15 *AQ
63 Gardner-Webb 16 *AQ
64 Prairie View 16 *AQ
65 Fairleigh Dickinson 16 *AQ
66 North Dakota State 16 *AQ
67 Iona 16 *AQ
68 North Carolina Central 16 *AQ

First four out: Belmont, Texas, Indiana, NC State

Bracket movement

Here is how every team's seed has changed since Katz's last prediction:

Overall seed Team Bracket 11 seed Bracket 10 seed Movement
1 Duke 1 1 0
2 Virginia 1 1 0
3 North Carolina 1 2 +1
4 Gonzaga 1 1 0
5 Michigan State 2 2 0
6 Tennessee 2 2 0
7 Kentucky 2 1 -1
8 Michigan 2 3 +1
9 Houston 3 3 0
10 Texas Tech 3 3 0
11 Florida State 3 4 +1
12 LSU 3 2 -1
13 Purdue 4 3 -1
14 Kansas 4 4 0
15 Kansas State 4 4 0
16 Virginia Tech 4 4 0
17 Wisconsin 5 5 0
18 Villanova 5 6 +1
19 Buffalo 5 5 0
20 Auburn 5 6 +1
21 Cincinnati 6 6 0
22 Iowa State 6 8 +2
23 Marquette 6 6 0
24 Maryland 6 5 -1
25 Mississippi State 7 7 0
26 Nevada 7 5 -2
27 Louisville 7 8 +1
28 Wofford 7 7 0
29 Seton Hall 8 10 +2
30 Syracuse 8 8 0
31 Iowa 8 9 +1
32 Baylor 8 7 -1
33 Washington 9 9 0
34 Utah State 9 10 +1
35 Minnesota 9 10 +1
36 Ole Miss 9 9 0
37 VCU 10 7 -3
38 Arizona State 10 10 0
39 UCF 10 8 -2
40 Ohio State 10 12 +2
41 Florida 11 12 +1
42 Temple 11 9 -2
43 Oklahoma 11 11 0
44 TCU 11 11 0
45 St. John's 11 11 0
46 Oregon 11 N/A N/A
47 St. Mary's (CA) 12 N/A N/A
48 New Mexico State 12 12 0
49 Murray State 12 12 0
50 Liberty 12 13 +1
51 UC-Irvine 13 N/A N/A
52 Vermont 13 13 0
53 Northeastern 13 N/A N/A
54 Old Dominion 13 14 +1
55 Harvard/Yale 14 N/A N/A
56 SLU/St. Bonaventure 14 N/A N/A
57 Northern Kentucky 14 N/A N/A
58 Georgia State/UT Arlington 14 14 0
59 Montana 15 14 -1
60 Colgate 15 15 0
61 Bradley 15 15 0
62 Abilene Christian 15 N/A N/A
63 Gardner-Webb 16 16 0
64 Prairie View 16 16 0
65 Fairleigh Dickinson 16 N/A N/A
66 North Dakota State 16 N/A N/A
67 Iona 16 16 0
68 North Carolina Central 16 N/A N/A