March Madness bracket 2019: Bill Bender’s expert NCAA Tournament predictions | NCAA Basketball

In final yr’s NCAA Tournament bracket picks, I left a piece of March Insanity ideas within the backside with this gem:

“I all the time take all of the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to win within the first spherical. If I miss, then I’ve a narrative to inform.”

About that …

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Final yr was the primary time I stuffed out an “knowledgeable bracket” for Sporting Information, and I discovered probably the most priceless lesson of all: Get the nationwide champion proper. You may guess the place that is going.

I picked Virginia to win the NCAA Match — and the Cavs promptly turned the primary No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 seed, when UMBC pulled that first-round shocker final yr. That’s the distinction between doing this for the primary time and, say, any individual who’s protecting their 31st Ultimate 4 this season, like our personal Mike DeCourcy. Mike picked Villanova to beat Michigan final yr as a result of he is aware of what he is doing.

My bracket was a catastrophe. I additionally identified “5 video games that can decide your bracket.” The issue with that was none of these 5 video games materialized due to early-round upsets. This can be a lot harder than soccer, the place the top recreation is choosing the winner of Alabama and Clemson yearly.

MORE BRACKET TIPS: Play the odds when picking Final Four, national champs

I did not even get that proper final yr.

That simply reinforces the lesson: I had Villanova within the championship recreation final yr however didn’t choose the Wildcats to win all of it. I wouldn’t have remembered choosing Virginia to lose the championship recreation. If you wish to win your bracket, then it’s essential to get the nationwide champion proper. It is so simple as that.

It is past embarrassing whenever you miss like that, however I wore that for a yr, and I now have that story to inform. So, let’s do that once more: One in every of three ACC groups will win the nationwide championship this yr. It comes all the way down to a selection amongst Duke, North Carolina and Virginia.

I might choose North Carolina. It swept the Blue Devils within the common season and practically pulled off the three-sweep (with Zion Williamson in Duke’s lineup, thoughts you) within the ACC Match. The Heels have a trio that may carry them to a different one with Cameron Johnson, Luke Maye and Coby White.

MORE: Using KenPom to predict NCAA bracket upsets, Final Four

I might choose Virginia, too. That might be the perfect story, to bounce again from shedding to No. 16 final yr to get again to the Ultimate 4 for the primary time since 1984. Plus, it could give me one other story to inform subsequent yr.

However, I’ll go along with Duke and the bump that comes with the return of Zion. That is the factor I missed final yr: You see, the Cavaliers misplaced De’Andre Hunter earlier than the match final yr and I disregarded the impression. I will not ignore what Williamson can do with probably the most proficient workforce within the nation.

It is a riskier choose than it appears — it all the time is with freshmen. However I’ll belief the Blue Devils to win all of it. At a minimal, I am trusting them to get out of the primary spherical.

If not, then I am going to have a fair higher story to inform.

SN’s BRACKET GUIDES: SOUTH | EAST | WEST | MIDWEST

NCAA Match bracket picks

East Area

Bill East Bracket picks-031719-SN-FTR

West Area

Bill West Bracket picks-031719-SN-FTR

South Area

Bill South Bracket picks-031719-SN-FTR

Midwest Area

Bill Midwest Bracket picks-031719-SN-FTR

Ultimate 4

Bill Final Four picks-031719-SN-FTR

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