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.
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 (and here's 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:
|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.
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).
And here's that bracket in table form:
|16||Prairie View/RMU||Sam Houston St.||Bucknell||Rider/Norfolk St.|
|8||Ohio St.||Buffalo||St. John's||Auburn|
|13||New Mexico St.||ODU||Vermont||South Dakota St.|
|6||Texas Tech||Cincinnati||Kansas St.||Virginia Tech|
|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|
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.
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:
|51||New Mexico State||13||*|
|54||South Dakota State||13||*|
|64||Sam Houston State||16||*|
|67||Prairie View A&M||16||*|
First four out: Arizona State, Butler, Arkansas, Creighton
Next four out: Nebraska, Toledo, Utah State, Clemson
|Team||Bracket 6||Bracket 5||Movement|
|South Dakota State||13||15||+2|
|New Mexico State||13||N/A||N/A|
|Sam Houston State||16||16||0|