It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the holidays, it’s time for the NCAA Tournament. No matter who got snubbed and who got in despite a weak resume, the field is set and it’s time to figure out who’s going to win it all. Let’s take a closer look at the field of 68 one region at a time.
- Top Seed: Duke
The Blue Devils are the top overall seed in the tournament and for good reason. Zion Williamson returned from injury during the ACC Tournament and looked to be 100%. Despite being 19-5, the Blue Devils only lost once when they had everyone healthy. With Williamson and RJ Barrett, Duke may have the best two players in the country to carry them to a national championship.
- Main Competition: Michigan State
The Spartans also got healthy late in the season with the return of Nick Ward, although he’s not quite up to speed just yet. Nevertheless, if the Michigan State players can survive the first weekend of the tournament, Tom Izzo’s coaching is usually enough to win two games the second weekend and get the Spartans to the Final Four.
- Sleeper: Maryland
The Terrapins struggled down the stretch and are one of the youngest teams in the country. However, when everything clicks, they can be as dangerous as any team out there. When Anthony Cowan Jr. is scoring, he and Bruno Fernando are a great inside-outside tandem. If Maryland’s young shooters can play well to complement Cowan and Fernando, the Terrapins have the tools to make an Elite Eight run.
- Tough Out: Louisville
Chris Mack has done an incredible job in his first season with the Cardinals. To be fair, Louisville backed into the tournament, losing seven of their last 10 games. However, six of those seven losses were against tournament teams, including three of the no. 1 seeds. The Cardinals lack the kind of guard play that typically wins in March, but they are battle tested from their ACC season and bring a lot of size to the table that will bother teams.
- Possible Cinderella: Liberty
The Flames earned their tournament bid the hard way, beating out a Lipscomb team in their conference final that was equally deserving of a spot. Unlike most mid-majors, they have a bonafide post presence in Scottie James, who’s surrounded by plenty of capable outside shooters. They definitely fit the mold of a 12 seed that’s capable of making a run.
- Upset Alert: Yale over LSU
The Tigers are an absolute mess right now with head coach Will Wade away from the team and unlikely to coach in the tournament. LSU is also fresh off an upset defeat at the hands of Florida in the SEC Tournament despite being the no. 1 seed. Meanwhile, Yale is a little under-rated as a 14 seed. The Bulldogs have serious amounts of depth and a number of players who could play at major programs. This game definitely has the recipe for an upset.
- Player to Watch: Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech
Robinson has missed the last 12 games with a foot injury, but he’s finally ready to return. The Hokies have done fine without him, including an upset of Duke. But Robinson is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s a senior point guard and the team’s on-floor leader. If he’s anywhere close to 100%, Virginia Tech could be a threat in this region.
In the end: Duke or Sparty
Ultimately, this bracket will probably come down to Duke and Michigan State. Virginia Tech and Maryland could make some noise, but the Blue Devils and Spartans appear to be on a collision course to meet in the Elite Eight. The only question is whether Michigan State has any answers for stopping Williamson.
- Top Seed: Virginia
The Cavaliers will never hear the end of last year’s stunning upset to a no. 16 seed. But don’t bet on that happening again. Virginia is a year older and a better team than they were a year ago. Remember, De’Andre Hunter missed last year’s tournament, and he’s an obvious difference maker. There’s a reason why Virginia went 29-3 this season, as they are undoubtedly the team to beat in the South.
- Main Competition: Tennessee
It’s tough to figure out the Vols after such a poor performance in the SEC Tournament title game. Tennessee also seemed to struggle against some of the better teams they faced this year. However, they have all the tools to be a Final Four team. They have a big man in Grant Williams, great guard play led by Jordan Bone, and a healthy dose of experience.
- Sleeper: Villanova
Defending champions aren’t usually sleepers, but Villanova seems to fit the description this year. Jay Wright’s team lost a ton of talent after last year, but they should not be overlooked. The Cats seemed to come on strong late in the season after a February slump, and after winning the Big East Tournament, they have a lot of momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament.
- Tough Out: Oregon
Speaking of momentum, the Ducks have plenty of that after winning the Pac-12 Tournament. The Pac-12 was down this year, but Oregon ended the season with eight straight wins, including two over regular season champion Washington. The Ducks were a legitimate top-25 team before losing Bol Bol to injury early in the season and have now learned to play without him. Most importantly, they’re a confident team with nothing to lose, which makes them a team you don’t want to face.
- Possible Cinderella: Cincinnati
The committee gave Cincinnati a break by sending them to Columbus for the first two rounds. As a 7 seed, the Bearcats are under-rated, which makes them a possible Cinderella. In addition to potentially facing Tennessee just two hours from home, Cincy plays hard on the defensive end and has a genuine star in Jarron Cumberland who could help carry them on a Cinderella run.
- Upset Alert: UC Irvine over Kansas State
K-State’s second-leading scorer Dean Wade remains an injury question mark after missing the Big 12 Tournament. Even with him, the Wildcats aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, so that’s a serious concern that could leave them vulnerable. Meanwhile, the Anteaters of Irvine won 30 games this season, going 15-1 in the Big West. It’s been two months since they lost a game, so they’re not going to think of themselves as an underdog playing Kansas State.
- Player to Watch: Ethan Happ
The jury is still out on Wisconsin’s supporting cast, but there’s little doubt that Happ is one of the marquee players in the tournament. He’s averaging 17.5 points and 10 rebounds per game, but he’s also one of the most skilled big men in college basketball, leading the Badgers with 4.6 assists per game. He’s someone who can potentially carry his team on his back through multiple rounds.
- In the end: Virginia
Don’t be surprised if Virginia follows up last year’s humiliation with a trip to the Final Four. The bottom half of the bracket will be fascinating to watch with seven of the eight teams being capable of reaching the Sweet 16, including 11 seed Saint Mary’s and 14 seed Old Dominion. However, the Cavaliers should cruise into the Elite Eight before they receive their first true test.
- Top Seed: North Carolina
At their best, the Tar Heels can be downright lethal. If Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson, and Colby White can all put together six good games, North Carolina has a serious chance to win a national championship. There will be some challenges in this region, but if North Carolina plays anywhere close to their best, it’ll be tough to stop them from reaching the Final Four.
- Main Competition: Kentucky
The Wildcats will feel a little slighted at not getting a no. 1 seed, but they should have thought about that before blowing a lead in the SEC Tournament semi-finals. As usual, the Wildcats have all of the tools to make a Final Four run; in fact, they even have some veteran players on this year’s team, most notably grad transfer Reid Travis, who could make a big difference in big-pressure moments.
- Sleeper: Auburn
Most people have forgotten that the Tigers were a top-10 team at the start of the season, and they’ve finally started to look the part late in the season. Auburn has won 10 of their last 11 and are getting great play from the backcourt tandem of Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. If those two keep playing well, the Tigers will have the kind of guard play that can make them a dangerous team.
- Tough Out: Washington
Winning the Pac-12 regular season title isn’t the most impressive accomplishment, at least this season. However, the Huskies aren’t a team to overlook. Thanks to former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, Washington plays the same 2-3 zone that has made the Orange a good tournament team. Having a short period of time to prepare for that zone will make Washington a tough out in this tournament, especially with a defensive player like Matisse Thybulle, who’s averaging over three steals per game on the season.
- Possible Cinderella: Wofford
It’s not every day that a team from the Southern Conference gets a 7 seed. The Terriers are for real, losing just four games all season, all of which came against teams in the NCAA Tournament. Wofford has four players who shoot better than 40% from the perimeter, starting with Fletcher Magee, who scores over 20 points per game. If they can shoot at that kind of level, the Terriers are capable of making a deep run.
- Upset Alert: Northeastern over Kansas
Let’s face it, this hasn’t been the Jayhawk’s year. They didn’t win the Big 12 regular season title for the first time 15 years and they were practically run off the court in the Big 12 Tournament championship game. They aren’t being looked at as a threat, and with their youth, they could be vulnerable against a Northeastern team that is loaded with upperclassmen and can play with anyone if their shooters get hot.
- Player to Watch: Marial Shayok, Iowa State
Shayok transferred from Virginia a couple of years ago because he wanted to be the main man on a team. Now he’s Iowa State’s leading scorer and the top dawg on a team with a real chance to go deep in this tournament. The Cyclones have the potential to be an offensive juggernaut, especially if Shayok is able to shine on the big stage.
- In the end: North Carolina or Kentucky
The Tar Heels control their own destiny if they play their best, but both North Carolina and Kentucky will be challenged on their way to a potential Elite Eight between the two blue bloods. The top 14 seeds in this region have a legitimate chance to win at least one game, and most of them are capable of winning more than that. Ultimately, no one will be surprised to see North Carolina facing Kentucky to decide things, but an off day by either team and they’re liable to go out.
- Top Seed: Gonzaga
This is possibly the best team Mark Few has ever had. Gonzaga’s best players are in the frontcourt, including Killian Tillie if he can get back up to speed after an injury-plagued season. However, the Bulldogs have under-rated guard play that is equally capable of carrying them through this tournament as their stars in the frontcourt.
- Main Competition: Michigan
Last year’s runners-up look ready for another deep run despite their loss in the finals of the Big 10 Tournament. If you take away games against Michigan State, the Wolverines only lost three games this season. The formidable trio of Ignas Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole, and Charles Matthews started to get a lot of help late in the season, making Michigan a serious Final Four contender.
- Sleeper: Florida State
The Seminoles were an Elite Eight team a year ago, and most of that team is back and looking forward to another deep run. Florida State has incredible depth, not to mention a wealth of size and athleticism at all five positions. They aren’t a great shooting team and they can sometimes lack a go-to scorer because they play 11 or 12 guys every game. But the Seminoles are every bit as talented as almost any team in the country.
- Tough Out: Syracuse
The vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone is always tough to play during tournament time, especially for teams that don’t see it. In fact, when the Orange reached the Final Four in 2016 and the Sweet 16 last year, they were eliminated by teams from their own league who were more accustomed to facing the zone. Non-conference opponents can be vulnerable against it, especially the second game of the weekend. If Syracuse can survive the first round, they’ll create a problem for Gonzaga, who turned it over 17 times in a Sweet 16 loss to the Orange in 2016.
- Possible Cinderella: Buffalo
The Bulls got people’s attention with their first-round upset of Arizona last year, and now that same group of players is back for more. Buffalo is one of the most cohesive and unselfish teams in the field. They play a team game, as they’re happy to have the open man take the shot while also giving their all on defense. The Bulls haven’t lost a game since February 1, and it’ll take a special effort from someone to stop them from getting even further than they did last season.
- Upset Alert: Northern Kentucky over Texas Tech
The Norse were in the tournament two years ago and still have a few key players from that team, including leading scorer Drew McDonald, a 6’8’’ forward who can score inside and outside and dominate the boards. Texas Tech isn’t overly vulnerable, but they aren’t a great offensive team and sometimes rely too much on their defense. Northern Kentucky, on the other hand, has a balanced offensive attack, and if they can force a shootout, they may have an edge over Texas Tech.
- Player to Watch: Markus Howard, Marquette
Howard is an incredible talent who’s carried Marquette all season. He’s just 5’11’’, but he shoots 40% from the perimeter and averages 25 points per game. On top of that, he averages four rebounds and four assists per game. He’s one of the players in this tournament who can carry his team through multiple rounds. Most importantly, Howard matching up against Murray State’s Ja Morant in the first round is must-see TV.
- In the end: Gonzaga and Michigan
Gonzaga is the favorite, but they will have their hands full in this region. This may be the toughest bracket in the tournament, at least at the top. The top eight seeds in this region are all capable of making a run to the Elite Eight or Final Four. However, in the end, Gonzaga and Michigan are the teams that have been there before, giving them a leg up over their competition.
2019 March Madness Schedule & Times
Tuesday, March 19 — First Four, Dayton, Ohio
- No. 16 Prairie View A&M vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson, 6:40 p.m. ET — truTV
- No. 11 Temple vs. No. 11 Belmont, approx. 9:10 p.m. ET — truTV
Wednesday, March 20 — First Four, Dayton, Ohio
- No. 16 North Carolina Central vs. No. 16 North Dakota State, 6:40 p.m. ET — truTV
- No. 11 St. John’s vs. No. 11 Arizona State, approx. 9:10 p.m. ET — truTV
Thursday, March 21 — First Round
- No. 10 Minnesota vs. No. 7 Louisville (Des Moines, Iowa), 12:15 p.m. ET — CBS
- No. 14 Yale vs. No. 3 LSU (Jacksonville, Florida), 12:40 p.m. ET — truTV
- No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Auburn (Salt Lake City), 1:30 p.m. ET — TNT
- No. 13 Vermont vs. No. 4 Florida State (Hartford, Connecticut), 2 p.m. ET — TBS
- No. 15 Bradley vs. No. 2 Michigan State (Des Moines), approx. 2:45 p.m. ET — CBS
- No. 11 Temple/Belmont vs. No. 6 Maryland (Jacksonville), approx. 3:10 p.m. ET — truTV
- No. 13 Northeastern vs. No. 4 Kansas (Salt Lake City), approx. 4 p.m. ET — TNT
- No. 12 Murray State vs. No. 5 Marquette (Hartford), approx. 4:30 p.m. ET — TBS
- No. 10 Florida vs. No. 7 Nevada (Des Moines), 6:50 p.m. ET — TNT
- No. 15 Abilene Christian vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jacksonville), 7:10 p.m. ET — CBS
- No. 11 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 6 Villanova (Hartford, Connecticut), 7:20 p.m. ET — TBS
- No. 16 Prairie View A&M/Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (Salt Lake City), 7:27 p.m. ET — truTV
- No. 15 Montana vs. No. 2 Michigan (Des Moines), approx. 9:20 p.m. ET — TNT
- No. 10 Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Wofford (Jacksonville), approx. 9:40 p.m. ET — CBS
- No. 14 Old Dominion vs. No. 3 Purdue (Hartford), approx. 9:50 p.m. ET — TBS
- No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 8 Syracuse (Salt Lake City), approx. 9:57 p.m. ET — truTV
Friday, March 22 — First Round
- No. 10 Iowa vs. No. 7 Cincinnati (Columbus, Ohio), 12:15 p.m. ET — CBS
- No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Ole Miss (Columbia, South Carolina), 12:40 p.m. ET — truTV
- No. 14 Northern Kentucky vs. No. 3 Texas Tech (Tulsa, Oklahoma), 1:30 p.m. ET — TNT
- No. 13 UC Irvine vs. No. 4 Kansas State (San Jose, California), 2 p.m. ET — TBS
- No. 15 Colgate vs. No. 2 Tennessee (Columbus), approx. 2:45 p.m. ET — CBS
- No. 16 Gardner-Webb vs. No. 1 Virginia (Columbia), approx. 3:10 p.m. ET — truTV
- No. 11 St. John’s/Arizona State vs. No. 6 Buffalo (Tulsa), approx. 4 p.m. ET — TNT
- No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 5 Wisconsin (San Jose), approx. 4:30 p.m. ET — TBS
- No. 9 Washington vs. No. 8 Utah State (Columbus), 6:50 p.m. ET — TNT
- No. 16 North Carolina Central/North Dakota State vs. No. 1 Duke (Columbia), 7:10 p.m. ET — CBS
- No. 14 Georgia State vs. No. 3 Houston (Tulsa), 7:20 p.m. ET — TBS
- No. 12 Liberty vs. No. 5 Mississippi State (San Jose), 7:27 p.m. ET — truTV
- No. 16 Iona vs. No. 1 North Carolina (Columbus), approx. 9:20 p.m. ET — TNT
- No. 9 UCF vs. No. 8 VCU (Columbia), approx. 9:40 p.m. ET — CBS
- No. 11 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Iowa State (Tulsa), approx. 9:50 p.m. ET — TBS
- No. 13 Saint Louis vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech (San Jose), approx. 9:57 p.m. ET — truTV
2019 March Madness Odds
The brackets are set and the NCAA Tournament odds have been updated. Head out to your favorite legal US sportsbook to check the latest odds.
2019 March Madness Contests
First and foremost, join our free bracket contest here. Winner gets a jersey! Secondly, join one of our partners contests here. Lastly, we have another page dedicated to March Madness contests and brackets.
2019 March Madness Links
Knup Sports has many many friends in this industry. If you know anything about us, we don’t consider ourselves COMPETING for your eyeballs. We think there is room for many other resource sites and blogs. We will happily link out to friends of Knup Sports that are covering March Madness.
- Spooky Express — Earl is putting together a full guide to March Madness over at Spooky Express. He is previewing every team and many of the players as well. This is a MUST READ if you are doing brackets. Check it out here.
- Vegas Odds — they are doing previews for EVERY March Madness game here. Some of the Knup Sports team is contributing to this effort so you may see our name(s) around there. Here is their March Madness hub page.
- BallStreet Trading — Do you enjoy financial trading? Do you enjoy sports? Mix them together and you have BallStreet Trading. Join the Knup Sports crew as we do some live trading during most of the NCAA Tournament games. Download the free app here.