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March Madness 2019 Predictions: Final Four expert picks to make

March Madness 2019 Predictions: Final Four expert picks to make

The NCAA Tournament bracket is finally here and it's time for March Madness to begin.

The madness begins on Tuesday and Wednesday night with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, with the first round beginning on Thursday. Slowly but surely, the bracket will be whittled down to 32 teams, and then 16, then eight, and finally, the Final Four.

The 2019 NCAA Tournament field is as wide open as ever before. There is only one legitimately great team -- No. 1 overall seed Duke -- in the tournament. There are a handful of really good teams, like Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, but each comes with a litany of questions marks.

So which teams will, in fact, make the 2019 Final Four?

CLICK HERE to enter our Bracket Challenge. If you beat Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos, you win a prize. If you beat everybody in the contest, you win a trip for four to Universal Resort Orlando.

2019 NCAA Tournament Final Four Picks:

Drew Gooden, Wizards analyst, NBC Sports Washington: #2 Michigan State (East), #1 Gonzaga (West), #1 Virginia (South), #2 Kentucky (Midwest)

Jimmy Patsos, Wizards analyst, NBC Sports Washington: #1 Duke (East), #3 Texas Tech (West), #2 Tennessee (South), #2 Kentucky (Midwest)

Troy Machir, Sr. Editor. NBC Sports Washington: #1 Duke (East), #4 Florida State (West), #1 Virginia (South), #5 Auburn (Midwest)

Tyler Byrum, Editor, NBC Sports Washington: #1 Duke (East), #1 Gonzaga (West), #2 Tennessee (South), #2 Kentucky (Midwest)

Rob Dauster, Sr. Writer, NBC Sports College Basketball Talk: #1 Duke (East), #3 Texas Tech (West), #1 Virginia (South), #1 North Carolina (Midwest)

2019 Final Four Analysis: 

East Region:

No. 1 seed Duke is the overwhelming favorite to not only make the Final Four out of the East Region but win the National Championship. The Blue Devils have the country's best player (ZIon Williamson), best coach (Mike Krzyzewski), best defender (Tre Jones) and two lottery picks (Cam Reddish, RJ Barrett). The only thing that could stop Duke is an injury.

If you really don't want to pick Duke, No. 2 seed Michigan State is the next best thing. This is a Spartans team that has the makeup of a team that can make a deep run, and Tom Izzo's team always seems to play Duke close.

West Region:

The West Region is the region of chaos. No. 1 seed Gonzaga is the most talented team in the region and it isn't very close. The Zags failed to advance based the first weekend four straight years from 2010 to 2014. Since then, however, Gonzaga has met expectations, advancing to two Sweet 16's, an Elite Eight, and a National Championship Game. But Gonzaga has a brutal second-round matchup with either Syracuse or Baylor.

There is no guarantee Gonzaga makes it to the second weekend, and the West Region has six teams that can make the Final Four. No. 3 seed Texas Tech, led by future lottery pick Jarrett Culver, is a great pick, as is No. 4 seed Florida State. There's also mid-major darlings No. 6 seed Buffalo and No. 7 seed Nevada, both of which began the season with Final Four aspirations. We didn't even mention No. 2 seed Michigan. The Wolverines could make it to Minneapolis. The west is chaos.

Which team advances to the Final Four from the West Region is anybody's guess.

South Region:

Despite being on the wrong end of the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history, No. 1 seed Virginia is a good Final Four pick to make in the South Region. Why? They have more scoring options than last year and the competition isn't as good.

No. 2 seed Tennessee, a season-long favorite to make the Final Four, is treading water, and Volunteers head coach Rick Barnes has a checkered tournament resume. Expect upsets to litter the South Region, opening up a clear path for the steadiest team in the country to finally get the monkey off its back.

Midwest Region:

There's a reason why the three ACC teams were placed on the top seed line in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Final Four chalk is a rare thing, but the West region should take care of that. No. 1 seed North Carolina is the best bet to emerge from the Midwest Region. Why? They have an excellent lead guard in Coby White, a clutch veteran leader in Luke Maye, future NBA players in Nassir Little and Cam Johnson, and a multi-time national championship winning coach in Roy Williams. That's typically the recipe for success in March Madness.

No. 2 seed Kentucky is probably the next best bet, thanks to their bevy of future draft picks. But it's not just raw talent. Sure, P.J. Washington and Keldon Johnson are the starring attractions. But Ashton Hagans is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country and Tyler Herro is the type of play-making deep threat that will put a team ahead and bail a team out.

But if you think the 2019 NCAA Tournament is headed toward an oddball Final Four, look at No. 5 seed Auburn. The Tigers have future pros in Jared Harper and Bryce Brown leading the cause,  have solid rim protectors in Austin Wiley and Chuma Okeke.

Auburn likes to force turnovers and get to the basket, thus increasing extra possessions, something you need to succeed in March.

MORE NCAA NEWS: 

Click here to join NBC Sports Washington’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge and compete against Wizards analysts Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos for a chance at great prizes.

Grand Prize: if you have the highest-scoring bracket in the NBC Sports Washington Bracket Challenge, you will win a 3-night trip for four people to Universal Resort, including round trip airfare, lodging, admission to Universal Studios and tickets to Blue Man Group.

Secondary Prize: If your bracket scores higher than both Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos, you win a coupon code for a free Jersey Mike's sub!

March Madness 2019: Were there any snubs? What did the NCAA selection committee get wrong?

March Madness 2019: Were there any snubs? What did the NCAA selection committee get wrong?

The 2019 NCAA Tournament bracket was revealed on Selection Sunday, and as is the case every year, the NCAA Tournament selection committee got some things right and somethings wrong.

But unlike previous years, the selection committee didn't get that much wrong.

The selection committee handed out three of the four No. 1 seeds to teams from the ACC. That decision drew the ire of many, but honestly, there isn't a lot of room to argue. Tennessee blew its chance at a No. 1 seed with a loss to Auburn in the SEC Final.

The only real claim to be made is from Michigan State, who earned the No. 2 seed in the East, despite winning the Big Ten Tournament. Congrats Sparty, your prize is a potential matchup with Duke to make the Final Four.

Speaking of tournament champions, the No. 24 Cincinnati Bearcats beat the No. 11 Houston Cougars 69-57 to win the AAC Tournament. Their reward? A No. 7 seed and a date with No. 10 seed Iowa. What that tells us is that conference tournaments don't mean all that much for seeding.

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE MARCH MADNESS BRACKET

So what about snubs? What teams got left out of the Big Dance all together that didn't deserve to? Well, to be honest, the selection committee didn't make any glaring omissions. UNC Greensboro, Alabama. Indiana and TCU were the first four teams left out.

None of those four teams really deserved to make the tournament. There's not much room to argue Indiana over St. John's, Arizona State or Belmont, three of the last four teams that made the tournament.

So if you are a fan of Alabama, you're not happy, but you don't have much of an argument. The committee got more right than they got wrong.

MORE NCAA TOURNAMENT NEWS:

Click here to join NBC Sports Washington’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge and compete against Wizards analysts Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos for a chance at great prizes.

Grand Prize: if you have the highest-scoring bracket in the NBC Sports Washington Bracket Challenge, you will win a 3-night trip for four people to Universal Resort, including round trip airfare, lodging, admission to Universal Studios and tickets to Blue Man Group.

Secondary Prize: If your bracket scores higher than both Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos, you win a coupon code for a free Jersey Mike's sub!

 

March Madness 2019: Printable NCAA Tournament Bracket

March Madness 2019: Printable NCAA Tournament Bracket

the 2019 edition of March Madness is nearly here and just like every season it is going to be a memorable one with upsets, historic teams and one shining moment. 

From the brackets to Selection Sunday to the first round games on Thursday and Friday to falling in love with this year's Cinderella team to trying to, and unsuccessfully, predicting a perfect bracket, there is no time better time on the sports calendar than the NCAA Tournament

It's almost time for it all and you better be prepared for the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

To get it all started you need an actual bracket.

While many like to fill out their bracket online, many enjoy the traditional route, printing out a blank bracket and filling in the teams as the NCAA Selection Committee announces the Field of 68 on Selection Sunday night. It is the quickest way to having a bracket to fill out. 

Here is your blank 2019 NCAA Tournament printable bracket. 

CLICK HERE to print your 2019 NCAA Tournament Bracket. 

Click here to join NBC Sports Washington’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge and compete against Wizards analysts Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos for a chance at great prizes.

Grand Prize: if you have the highest-scoring bracket in the NBC Sports Washington Bracket Challenge, you will win a 3-night trip for four people to Universal Resort, including round trip airfare, lodging, admission to Universal Studios and tickets to Blue Man Group.

Secondary Prize: If your bracket scores higher than both Drew Gooden and Jimmy Patsos, you win a coupon code for a free Jersey Mike's sub!