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Daniel Wilco | NCAA.com | February 12, 2019

March Madness bracketology: The ultimate guide

Every February and March, a unique 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 (and here's a PDF):

2019 March Madness 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 and schedule
ROUND SITE 2019 DATES
Selection Sunday N/A March 17
First Four Dayton, OH March 19-20
1st/2nd Rounds Hartford, CT March 21/23
1st/2nd Rounds Salt Lake City, UT March 21/23
1st/2nd Rounds Des Moines, IA March 21/23
1st/2nd Rounds Jacksonville, FL March 21/23
1st/2nd Rounds Tulsa, OK March 22/24
1st/2nd Rounds Columbus, OH March 22/24
1st/2nd Rounds Columbia, SC March 22/24
1st/2nd Rounds San Jose, CA March 22/24
South Regional Louisville, KY March 28/30
West Regional Anaheim, CA March 28/30
East Regional Washington, D.C. March 29/31
Midwest Regional Kansas City, MO March 29/31
Final Four, National Championship Minneapolis, MN April 6/8

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. We'll post the full TV schedule here when it is available. 

How can you get involved in bracketology?

By filling out a bracket! Our Bracket Challenge Game, the official bracket game of the NCAA, will open immediately after the committee announces the field on Selection Sunday (March 17), 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:

We'll continue to update the below section with Andy Katz's latest bracket predictions throughout the season:

The complete March Madness field of 68 predicted after the Top 16 reveal

The NCAA selection committee revealed its in-season Top 16 Saturday afternoon. After talking with the committee, NCAA.com basketball analyst Andy Katz completed his latest full bracket prediction for the March Madness field.

Katz has traveled the country this regular season watching games and talking to top players and coaches, all of which have helped inform his sixth bracket prediction of the season for the DI men's basketball tournament.

Selection Sunday 2019: Time, dates, schedule and everything else you need to know

We break down his picks below, but first, let’s look at the bracket itself (Tap or click here to open the bracket in a new window or tab).

Andy Katz filled out his predictions for the 2019 NCAA tournament

And here's that bracket in table form:

  East West South Midwest
1 Duke Gonzaga Tennessee Virginia
16 Prairie View/RMU Sam Houston St. Bucknell Rider/Norfolk St.
         
8 Ohio St. Buffalo St. John's Auburn
9 Oklahoma Texas Minnesota Baylor
         
5 LSU Maryland Iowa Villanova
12 Belmont Davidson Lipscomb Hofstra
         
4 Iowa St. Louisville Nevada Wisconsin
13 New Mexico St. ODU Vermont South Dakota St.
         
6 Texas Tech Cincinnati Kansas St. Virginia Tech
11 Temple Wofford UCF/VCU Indiana/Ole Miss
         
3 Marquette Kansas Purdue Houston
14 Bowling Green UC Irving Montana N. Kentucky
         
7 Syracuse Florida St. Mississippi St. Washington
10 Alabama Seton Hall TCU NC St.
         
2 Michigan Michigan St. North Carolina Kentucky
15 Loyola-Chicago Texas St. Radford Yale

THE TOP 16: NCAA selection committee's in-season look at the March Madness bracket |Breakdown 

Gonzaga back in as a 1 seed

Someone had to fill the gap Michigan State’s recent slump left. The Spartans had won 13 straight, including four against ranked teams. Then came a loss at Purdue. And then at home against Indiana. And then on the road to Illinois. It’s Michigan State’s first three-game losing streak since January 2017. The Spartans haven’t lost four in a row since February 2007. 

Gonzaga is on a tear. The Bulldogs have won 13 straight, with an average win margin of 33.7 points during the streak. They’re currently in first place in the WCC at 9-0, with BYU holding down second place at 7-3. That dominance led Katz and the NCAA selection committee to bump them back to a 1 seed in the latest field prediction.

Also on the top line are Duke and Virginia, who are red hot right now and tied with North Carolina for first in the ACC. The two top 5 teams face off Saturday in a rematch of one of the best games of the season.

Duke-Virginia: Prediction, TV time and preview for the ACC showdown

Mississippi among biggest drops

Ole Miss fell from an 8 seed to an 11 in Katz’s latest prediction after the Rebels had a rough few weeks. After pulling off 10 straight wins, with back-to-back upsets of No. 11 Auburn and No. 14 Mississippi State, Mississippi is 2-5 in its last seven games, including going 2-3 at home. 

Speaking of rough stretches, Nebraska is currently riding a six-game losing streak after starting the season 13-4, dropping them out of Katz’s field after he had them at an 8 seed in the previous prediction. The Cornhuskers don’t have an easy back end of conference play either, with upcoming games against No. 15 Purdue (twice), No. 7 Michigan, No. 9 Michigan State, and No. 20 Iowa.

Butler also fell out of the latest field, from an 11 seed in Katz’s last prediction. The Bulldogs are 1-3 in their last four games, and though those losses all came to good teams (Villanova, Creighton, and Marquette), a three-game losing streak in January is never a good look.

Washington leads biggest risers

Washington rose from a 9 to a 6 seed in Katz’s latest prediction after winning their 12th game in a row. The Huskies are dominating the Pac-12, sitting in first place at 10-0, four games ahead of three teams tied at 6-4.

Florida State had a bit of a skid in mid-January with three straight losses, but the Seminoles have now won four in a row, all by comfortable margins. They sit in seventh place in a stacked ACC, but they actually have a fairly easy ride for the rest of the year with only three games left against ranked teams — No. 16 Louisville on Feb. 9, No. 8 UNC on Feb. 23, and No. 11 Virginia Tech on March 5. That should give FSU plenty of opportunities to move up the board.

In Katz’s second bracket of the year, on Dec. 14, he had North Carolina as a 5 seed, down from the 2 seed he saw as their potential in the preseason. The Tar Heels were 7-2 on the year after dropping games to Texas and Michigan. But now, UNC is looking in top shape at the midway point of the ACC schedule, having won six straight, including convincing wins against NC State, Louisville, and Virginia Tech. Katz has them as a 2 seed now, but the next month will reveal a lot about the Tar Heels, as they face No. 3 Virginia on Feb. 11, and No. 2 Duke on Feb. 20.

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 *
2 Tennessee 1 *
3 Virginia 1  
4 Gonzaga 1 *
5 Kentucky 2  
6 Michigan 2 *
7 North Carolina 2  
8 Michigan St. 2  
9 Purdue 3  
10 Kansas 3  
11 Houston 3  
12 Marquette 3  
13 Iowa St. 4  
14 Nevada 4 *
15 Louisville 4  
16 Wisconsin 4  
17 LSU 5  
18 Villanova 5 *
19 Maryland 5  
20 Iowa 5  
21 Virginia Tech 5  
22 Kansas State 6 *
23 Cincinnati 6  
24 Texas Tech 6  
25 Washington 6  
26 Mississippi State 7  
27 Syracuse 7  
28 Florida State 7  
29 St. John’s 7  
30 Auburn 8  
31 Buffalo 8  
32 Ohio State 8  
33 Baylor 8  
34 Minnesota 9  
35 Texas 9  
36 Oklahoma 9  
37 TCU 9  
38 Alabama 10  
39 Seton Hall 10  
40 NC State 10  
41 Temple 11  
42 UCF 11  
43 Indiana 11  
44 VCU 11  
45 Ole Miss 11  
46 Wofford 11 *
47 Davidson 12 *
48 Belmont 12 *
49 Lipscomb 12 *
50 Hofstra 12 *
51 New Mexico State 13 *
52 Vermont 13 *
53 Old Dominion 13 *
54 South Dakota State 13 *
55 Bowling Green 14 *
56 UC Irvine 14 *
57 Montana 14 *
58 Northern Kentucky 14 *
59 Texas State 15 *
60 Loyola-Chicago 15 *
61 Radford 15 *
62 Yale 15 *
63 Bucknell 16 *
64 Sam Houston State 16 *
65 Rider 16 *
66 Norfolk State 16 *
67 Prairie View A&M 16 *
68 Robert Morris 16 *

First four out: Arizona State, Butler, Arkansas, Creighton
Next four out: Nebraska, Toledo, Utah State, Clemson

Team Bracket 6 Bracket 5 Movement
Duke 1 1 0
Tennessee 1 1 0
Virginia 1 1 0
Gonzaga 1 2 +1
Michigan State 2 1 -1
Kentucky 2 2 0
Michigan 2 2 0
North Carolina 2 3 +1
Kansas 3 2 -1
Houston 3 3 0
Marquette 3 4 +1
Purdue 3 5 +2
Nevada 4 3 -1
Iowa State 4 4 0
Louisville 4 5 +1
Wisconsin 4 6 +2
LSU 5 3 -2
Villanova 5 4 -1
Maryland 5 4 -1
Virginia Tech 5 5 0
Iowa 5 6 +1
Texas Tech 6 5 -1
Kansas State 6 6 0
Cincinnati 6 7 +1
Washington 6 9 +3
Syracuse 7 7 0
Mississippi State 7 8 +1
St. John's 7 8 +1
Florida State 7 10 +3
Buffalo 8 6 -2
Auburn 8 7 -1
Ohio State 8 11 +3
Baylor 8 N/A N/A
Oklahoma 9 7 -2
TCU 9 9 0
Minnesota 9 10 +1
Texas 9 10 +1
NC State 10 9 -1
Seton Hall 10 10 0
Alabama 10 11 +1
Ole Miss 11 8 -3
UCF 11 9 -2
Indiana 11 11 0
Wofford 11 11 0
Temple 11 N/A N/A
VCU 11 N/A N/A
Hofstra 12 12 0
Davidson 12 N/A N/A
Belmont 12 N/A N/A
Lipscomb 12 N/A N/A
Old Dominion 13 12 -1
South Dakota State 13 15 +2
New Mexico State 13 N/A N/A
Vermont 13 N/A N/A
UC Irvine 14 13 -1
Bowling Green 14 14 0
Northern Kentucky 14 14 0
Montana 14 N/A N/A
Texas State 15 13 -2
Radford 15 13 -2
Loyola-Chicago 15 14 -1
Yale 15 N/A N/A
Bucknell 16 15 -1
Sam Houston State 16 16 0
Rider 16 16 0
Norfolk State 16 16 0
Prairie View 16 16 0
Robert Morris 16 16 0