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):
2020 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 2020 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. In his final prediction before Selection Sunday, he got 67 of the 68 teams correct.
Katz will be filling out those predictions again this year. Here's his first of the (pre)season:
The 2020 NCAA bracket predicted, 50 days from opening night
Just 50 days from the start of the 2019-20 college basketball season, we asked NCAA.com basketball expert Andy Katz to fill out a March Madness bracket based on everything he saw this preseason.
Last year, Katz filed almost a dozen bracket predictions throughout the season. In his final prediction before Selection Sunday, he got 67 of the 68 teams correct.
So let's take a look at how he's starting off the 2019-20 season. Here's his preseason bracket (click or tap here to open the bracket in a new window or tab):
And here’s that same bracket in table form:
|16||NC Central/FDU||Iona/Prairie View||Sam Houston St.||Radford|
|13||W. Kentucky||New Mexico St.||Missouri St.||Furman|
|11||Vermont||Kansas St.||Iowa St.||Michigan/S. Carolina|
|14||William & Mary||Wright St.||Bucknell||Liberty|
|10||Cincinnati||NC State||Florida St.||Tennessee|
|2||Texas Tech||Maryland||Florida||Seton Hall|
Now, let's take a closer look at some of the highlights.
Michigan State, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisville earn 1 seeds
These predictions add even more spice to what is bound to be an electric opening night of the 2019-20 season.
Two of those teams — Michigan State and Kentucky — will play head to head in Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 5. A third — Kansas — will face off against Duke in the same tournament that night. Katz placed Duke — which will be led by returning starter Tre Jones, among a cadre of talented freshmen — as a 3 seed in his preseason prediction.
Last year’s Champions Classic saw No. 1 Kansas take down No. 10 Michigan State 92-87 and No. 4 Duke dominate No. 2 Kentucky 118-84.
Of course, things will look quite different for Kentucky and Duke this year. Both teams lost four of their top five scorers from last year, though Duke brings back Tre Jones, and Kentucky returns Ashton Hagans.
KATZ'S CRYSTAL BALL: 20 predictions for the 2020 NCAA tournament
Michigan State and Kansas on the other hand will have two of the most talented veteran lineups in the country.
The Spartans bring back seniors Cassius Winston (who Katz predicted to be this year’s player of the year) and Joshua Langford, junior Xavier Tillman, and sophomore Aaron Henry, all of whom were crucial to Michigan’s first Final Four run since 2015.
Kansas will have Devon Dotson and a healthy Udoka Azubuike back, along with key role players Silvio De Sousa and Mitch Lightfoot.
But for anyone who hasn’t paid attention during the offseason, the biggest surprise in this top line is Louisville as the fourth 1 seed. Coach Chris Mack is in his second season at the helm for the Cardinals, who had an impressive year in 2019, earning the school’s first tournament-berth since Rick Pitino’s departure, but still lost in the first round of the tournament.
But the Cardinals have an extremely solid core group to make a deeper run this year, returning leading scorer Jordan Nwora, along with Dwayne Sutton, Malik Williams, and Steven Enoch. The team will also add grad-transfer Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble — who averaged 15.6 points per game at St. Joseph’s last season — along with a loaded freshman class.
Just missing the cut
Katz went beyond the field of 68 to make some predictions on the bubble for the upcoming season.
First Four out:
Next four out:
Andy Katz's field of 68
Here is Katz’s full seed list in order:
|54||New Mexico State||13|
|58||William & Mary||14|
|63||Sam Houston State||16|
|65||North Carolina Central||16|