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Daniel Wilco | NCAA.com | September 24, 2019

March Madness bracketology: The ultimate guide

Everything you need to know about March Madness

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 2020 NCAA bracket for March Madness.

 

2020 NCAA Tournament Schedule And Venues

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

2020 NCAA tournament schedule and locations:

Dates Round City, STATE Host(s) Facility
March 15 Selection Sunday N/A N/A N/A
March 17-18 First Four Dayton, OH University of Dayton UD Arena
March 19/21 1st/2nd Rounds Albany, NY Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Times Union Center
March 19/21 1st/2nd Rounds Spokane, WA University of Idaho Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
March 19/21 1st/2nd Rounds St. Louis, MO Missouri Valley Conference Enterprise Center
March 19/21 1st/2nd Rounds Tampa, FL University of South Florida Amalie Arena
March 20/22 1st/2nd Rounds Greensboro, NC Atlantic Coast Conference Greensboro Coliseum
March 20/22 1st/2nd Rounds Omaha, NE Creighton University CenturyLink Center Omaha
March 20/22 1st/2nd Rounds Sacramento, CA Sacramento State University Golden 1 Center
March 20/22 1st/2nd Rounds Cleveland, OH Mid-American Conference/Cleveland State Quicken Loans Arena
March 26/28 Midwest Regional Indianapolis, IN Horizon League/IUPUI Lucas Oil Stadium
March 26/28 West Regional Los Angeles, CA Pepperdine University STAPLES Center
March 27/29 South Regional Houston, TX University of Houston Toyota Center
March 27/29 East Regional New York, NY St. John’s University/Big East Conference Madison Square Garden
April 4/6 Final Four Atlanta, GA Georgia Institute of Technology Mercedes-Benz Stadium

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.

HOW'D HE DO: View Katz's final predictions on 2019's Selection Sunday, before the official bracket was release

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):

Andy Katz's preseason bracket prediction for September 16

And here’s that same bracket in table form:

Andy Katz's preseason 2020 NCAA tournament bracket
  Midwest West South East
1 Michigan St. Louisville Kansas Kentucky
16 NC Central/FDU Iona/Prairie View Sam Houston St. Radford
         
8 USC Wisconsin Colorado Penn St.
9 Houston Arizona LSU VCU
         
5 Baylor Illinois Ohio St. Georgetown
12 ASU/ND Belmont Harvard Bowling Green
         
4 Villanova Gonzaga Xavier Purdue
13 W. Kentucky New Mexico St. Missouri St. Furman
         
6 Auburn Washington Oregon Utah St.
11 Vermont Kansas St. Iowa St. Michigan/S. Carolina
         
3 Virginia Memphis UNC Duke
14 William & Mary Wright St. Bucknell Liberty
         
7 Marquette St. Mary's Providence Davidson
10 Cincinnati NC State Florida St. Tennessee
         
2 Texas Tech Maryland Florida Seton Hall
15 Montana UCSB Omaha UT-Arlington

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. 

CBB SCHEDULE: When does the 2019-20 men's college basketball season start?

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.

CAN'T MISS: 21 most entertaining college basketball players to look for next season

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.

Andy Katz predicts how these 12 head coaches could impact their new programs

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:

BYU
USF
Creighton
Syracuse

Next four out:

Iowa
Oklaoma
TCU
Wichita State

Under consideration:

Texas
Pepperdine
Clemson
Arkansas
Alabama
St. Bonaventure
Dayton
UConn

Andy Katz's field of 68

Here is Katz’s full seed list in order:

Rank Team Seed
1 Michigan State 1
2 Kansas 1
3 Kentucky 1
4 Louisville 1
5 Seton Hall 2
6 Florida 2
7 Maryland 2
8 Texas Tech 2
9 Duke 3
10 North Carolina 3
11 Memphis 3
12 Virginia 3
13 Gonzaga 4
14 Villanova 4
15 Purdue 4
16 Xavier 4
17 Baylor 5
18 Ohio State 5
19 Illinois 5
20 Georgetown 5
21 Washington 6
22 Oregon 6
23 Utah State 6
24 Auburn 6
25 Marquette 7
26 Saint Mary’s 7
27 Providence 7
28 Davidson 7
29 Wisconsin 8
30 Penn State 8
31 Colorado 8
32 USC 8
33 VCU 9
34 Houston 9
35 LSU 9
36 Arizona 9
37 Tennessee 10
38 NC State 10
39 Cincinnati 10
40 Florida State 10
41 Kansas State 11
42 Iowa State 11
43 Vermont 11
44 Michigan 11
45 South Carolina 11
46 Arizona State 12
47 Notre Dame 12
48 Bowling Green 12
49 Harvard 12
50 Belmont 12
51 Western Kentucky 13
52 Furman 13
53 Missouri State 13
54 New Mexico State 13
55 Liberty 14
56 Bucknell 14
57 Wright State 14
58 William & Mary 14
59 Omaha 15
60 Montana 15
61 USCB 15
62 UT Arlington 15
63 Sam Houston State 16
64 Radford 16
65 North Carolina Central 16
66 Fairleigh Dickinson 16
67 Iona 16

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