It’s time to fill out your bracket for the 2019 NCAA Tournament. For those of you looking for some help on who to take in each game, or just for some possible upsets, here is a look at who I have coming out of each region. I have also listed my Final Four predictions as well to help you win your bracket contests and pools. Be sure to check out my completed bracket for my picks in every game.
Download or print your own blank bracket to fill out.
The East Region is certainly stacked this year. Michigan State got a bad break having to be in the same bracket at Duke. LSU has as much talent as almost anyone in the country. And Virginia Tech gets its best player back in time for the big dance in Justin Robinson.
I have Duke coming out of this region, but it won’t be easy with a Sweet 16 matchup with the aforementioned Hokies likely. And I think there will be madness in this region outside of the fact that Duke advances out of it.
Michigan State is vulnerable with the loss of Kyle Ahrens now to injury. And Louisville is the team that will knock them off in the Round of 32. It’s a Cardinals team I really like and I have them advancing to the Elite 8. They beat UNC by 21 on the road, blew a 20-point lead at home to Duke, and played Virginia tough twice. If that’s not evidence they can play with anyone in the country, I don’t know what is.
I also think LSU and Maryland are vulnerable. The Terrapins just don’t have much star power outside Fernando and Cowen, and I think the Belmont/Temple winner will knock them off. LSU may get by Yale, but I just don’t like the distractions this team has to deal with right now with the loss of head coach Will Wade.
Final Four Participant: Duke
I believe the South Region is the weakest of them all just from first glance. It appears that both Virginia and Tennessee have easy routes to the Elite 8 for the right to go to the Final Four. And I’ll pick the Cavaliers to advance to the Final Four in a hard-fought win over Tennessee.
It’s a Cavaliers team that has an improved offensive this season, and still an elite defense. And they will for sure want to make amends for their monumental collapse against UMBC last year. They will finally make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament because this is the best team Tony Bennett has maybe ever had at Virginia. They lost just three times all season.
I have Villanova upsetting Purdue in the Round of 32 to get to the Sweet 16. But the Wildcats aren’t strong enough this year to get back to the Final Four for a third time in four years. Tennessee will have to play Cincinnati in Columbus, which is only a 90-minute drive from the Bearcats’ campus. That’s a bad break for the Vols, but they should be able to overcome it.
The team I think really surprises in this bracket is UC-Irvine. The Anteaters went 30-5 this season and have no weaknesses. They will be a matchup nightmare for anyone they face, especially with their ability to shoot the 3-pointer. I have them upsetting Kansas State, which will be without Dean Wade. I also have them upsetting Oregon in the Round of 32, which is a red-hot Ducks team that will upset Wisconsin in the 12/5 matchup.
Final Four Participant: Virgnia
It’s the year of the Gonzaga Bulldogs, folks. They already beat Duke in the non-conference, and they’ll get another chance against Duke in the Final Four. I think the loss to St. Mary’s in the WCC Tournament Championship is exactly what this team needed to humble them and get them focused for the NCAA Tournament.
Simply put, the Bulldogs are as talented as anyone in the NCAA Tournament. They have the school’s all-time leading assist man in senior PG Josh Perkins (11.0 PPG, 6.5 APG), NBA lottery pick Rui Hachimura (20.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG), the best defensive player in the country in Brandon Clarke (16.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 3.1 BPG) and G Zach Norvell (15.3 PPG). They also get Killian Tillie (6.2 PPG) back healthy in time for the tournament.
The Bulldogs have a pretty easy path to the Final Four. They could get resistance from the Texas Tech/Michigan winner in this bracket. I have the Red Raiders getting back to the Elite 8 for a second consecutive season.
I just don’t foresee any upsets in this bracket. I pick a bunch of chaos in the East and South regions, but the West just doesn’t have many double-digit seeds that I can foresee making a run. I’m going chalk the entire way with the exception of No. 3 Texas Tech over No. 2 Michigan, which really isn’t that big of an upset.
Final Four Participant: Gonzaga
It’s a toss-up whether the East or the Midwest is the most stacked region. You could make an argument for both. And realistically you could make a case for the Top 6 seeds to get to the Final Four from this region.
However, I’m picking the No. 1 seed in UNC to get to the Final Four from this region. I just can’t get over the fact that the Tar Heels beat the Blue Devils handily twice in the regular season. And then they only lost to Duke by a single point in the ACC Tournament. And I love the experience of head coach Roy Williams.
Auburn just won the SEC Tournament with a rout of Tennessee in the title game. Iowa State just won the Big 12 Tournament. Houston only lost three times all season. Kentucky is peaking at the right time. And Kansas has the championship pedigree, though this is by far the least-talented the Jayhawks have been in quite some time due to injuries.
My biggest sleeper pick in this bracket is Iowa State. The Cyclones are the most talented team in the Big 12. They are finally healthy, and it showed in their dominance in the Big 12 Tournament. I have them beating both Houston and Kentucky to get to the Elite 8, where they will finally meet their match against UNC. Keep in mind Iowa State plays close to home in Oklahoma in the first two rounds and then in Kansas City in the Sweet 16, which is where the Big 12 Tournament was held and also known as ‘Hilton South’.
Final Four Participant: North Carolina
This is the first time I ever remember picking all four No. 1 seeds to advance to the Final Four. I just think the top four seeds are far and away the best four teams in the country. I could make a case for some of the No. 2 seeds, but I’m just not comfortable with it.
I have Gonzaga beating Duke for a second time this season. I also have North Carolina winning a close one over Virginia. I just think it’s the year for Gonzaga to finally win their first National Championship as they’ve been knocking on the door for years.
This is the most talent the Bulldogs have ever had, and I really think that loss to St. Mary’s will have awoken them. It will have them playing their best basketball for six straight games en route to the title.