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NCAA tournament cheat sheet: Bracket tips, upsets and more

The 2019 NCAA tournament bracket. (The Washington Post)

The 2019 NCAA tournament is finally here. Click here for all the scores and updates from the first full day of action.

Below is The Post’s pre-tournament bracket analysis and news.

2019 NCAA tournament bracket and history

Click on each matchup for more on each school’s tournament history and how similar seeds have fared in the past. Come back throughout the month for updated results. (Read more)

The tournament field

Get caught up on every squad in the 68-team field, and check out their student ID cards. (Read more)

Bracket tips and analysis

The perfect bracket

If you want a sure thing in your men’s NCAA tournament pool, you’ll need to fill out the 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 brackets necessary to guarantee a winner. Or you could just use this blend of value picks and projected winners to claim your office pool. (Read more)

The expert picks

Who are college basketball’s top analysts taking to reach the Final Four? Here’s a roundup of their picks, which will update all week. (Read more)

A beginner’s guide to March Madness bracket-picking

New to your pool? Dive in to our entry-level tips to help pull the office upset they’ll talk about all year long. (Read more)

Want to win your pool? Don’t take Duke to win it all

Nearly 40 percent of entrants in ESPN’s tournament challenge have the Blue Devils winning the tournament. That makes them a terrible choice. (Read more)

The four best bets to win the tournament

To win your bracket pool, you’ll likely have to pick the champion correctly. Here are the four teams that are the most likely winners based on total efficiency, a historically reliable indicator. (Read more)

The toughest road to the Final Four

Not all roads to the Final Four are paved evenly, and oddly, the bracket’s top overall seed has the most challenging path path to Minneapolis. (Read more)

The 6-11 upset is the new 5-12 upset

It used to be standard procedure to pick a 12 seed to win in the first round. But 11 seeds are the new stars. Here are the 11 seeds to watch this year. (Read more)

The next UMBC?

How likely is it for a No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed? And which No. 16 seed has the best shot this year? (Read more)

The most likely upsets for the first round

It’s not just about spotting potential upsets, it’s finding ones that will give you the most value in your bracket pool. Neil Greenberg’s proprietary analysis does exactly that. (Read more)

The tournament’s most vulnerable top seeds

The bracket’s best teams seem unusually strong this season, but they’re not invulnerable. Here are a few with red flags that could make them more likely to lose before their seeding says they should. (Read more)

The 2019 men’s tournament gambling guide

According to an American Gaming Association survey, 47 million Americans will wager $8.5 billion on the NCAA tournament this year, and while more than half of that astounding sum will be wagered via bracket pools, $3.9 billion will be bet on the games themselves via a sportsbook (either in person or online), through a bookie or with a friend. Here are some tips for that latter crowd. (Read more)

The beloved NCAA tournament captivates millions year after year, but it’s the bracket that really gets people talking. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post, Photo: John Parks/The Washington Post)

First-round matchups

The selection committee has pieced together the bracket, and we’ll start with the East Region.

East Region

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 N.C. Central/North Dakota State

No. 8 VCU vs. No. 9 UCF

No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 13 Saint Louis

No. 5 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Liberty

No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Yale

No. 6 Maryland vs. No. 11 Belmont/Temple

No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 Minnesota

No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Bradley

Maryland will open NCAA tournament against Belmont or Temple

Duke secures the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, but the real stories here revolve around Michigan State and Belmont. Michigan State was considered to have a decent chance at landing a No. 1 seed of its own after topping Michigan for the Big Ten tournament title just before the selection special, but instead falls to a No. 2. That the Spartans are sitting on the second line isn’t that surprising, but it’s pretty brutal that they’ll have to go through Duke to reach the Final Four.

Belmont fell to Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament and was no lock to make the field as an at-large team. Now, as one of the last four teams in, the Bruins will get a chance to show their mettle in the tournament in the play-in game. They could be a trendy upset pick if they can prevail over Temple.

Virginia Tech will play Saint Louis in NCAA tournament as No. 4 seed

South Region

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Gardner-Webb

No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 9 Oklahoma

No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 13 UC Irvine

No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Oregon

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Old Dominion

No. 6 Villanova vs. No. 11 Saint Mary’s

No. 7 Cincinnati vs. No. 10 Iowa

No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Colgate

Tennessee as a No. 2 seed pretty much assured that North Carolina would get a No. 1 seed, which will made the ACC the second conference to ever secure three-quarters of the tournament’s top seeds. The Big East was the first to do so in 2009.

This is also a region ripe with conference tournament champions, including Cincinnati, which somehow gets to play in Columbus. Tennessee is a very good team, but that’s not a super desirable matchup for the Vols, playing just a few hours from the Bearcats’ campus.

Virginia earns No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament, will play Gardner-Webb

Midwest Region

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Iona

No. 8 Utah State vs. No. 9 Washington

No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Northeastern

No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 12 New Mexico State

No. 3 Houston vs. No. 14 Georgia State

No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Ohio State

No. 7 Wofford vs. No. 10 Seton Hall

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Abilene Christian

Hello, blue bloods. North Carolina may have its No. 1 seed, but it will not have an easy path. Kansas is not as strong as it was at the start of the season, but nearly won the Big 12 despite key personnel losses. And of course Kentucky sits on the No. 2 line.

Don’t sleep on the Northeastern Huskies, who can light it up from three-point range and have one of the most efficient offenses in the nation. They could upset the depleted Jayhawks in the opening round.

Houston remains a bit of a mystery and Iowa State could be a trendy upset pick to advance to the Sweet 16 over a team that faltered in the American conference tournament against Cincinnati.

2019 NCAA tournament: The most likely upsets for the first round

West Region

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M

No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Baylor

No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Vermont

No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 12 Murray State

No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Northern Kentucky

No. 6 Buffalo vs. No. 11 Arizona State/St. John’s

No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 10 Florida

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Montana

On first glance, this is the region of death. Buffalo and Nevada are going to be really tough outs and Marquette can be very good on its best day. Could that be good enough to topple Gonzaga, as Saint Mary’s did in the WCC tournament final? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but it will be fun to watch the Golden Eagles’ Marcus Howard (25 ppg) against the Racers’ Ja Morant (24.6 ppg) in the first round.

Overall, the Big Ten landed the most bids with eight, followed by the ACC and SEC with seven apiece.

Jerry Brewer: Feeling shaky about Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament? Remember, no program is more solid.

Latest men’s NCAA tournament news and commentary

The most notable headlines heading into the tournament’s first tip.

Zion Williamson is known for his brawn. Duke teammates respect him for his brain.

The Blue Devils used words like “instincts” and “smart” repeatedly when describing the freshman star’s ability to affect games not just with highlight dunks, but with more subtle plays. (Read more)

Zion and beyond: The NBA fan’s guide to March Madness

NBA fans, pay attention: Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson leads a class that also includes teammate R.J. Barrett, Murray State’s Ja Morant, and North Carolina’s Coby White. (Read more)

Nevada enters NCAA tournament with something to prove. That suits it perfectly.

The Wolf Pack program is built on grit and resourcefulness that has made a college basketball a destination in a town that’s the butt of many jokes. (Read more)

Jerry Brewer: There’s more than one road to the Final Four, and they may cross in this tournament

The one-and-done era has counterintuitively opened the door for some true March Madness. (Read more)

A NET difference? Not much, based on NCAA tournament seedings.

How did the NCAA’s newest metric play out on Selection Sunday? Pretty similar to the late, unlamented RPI, though quantity of losses seem to factor more in the committee’s selections. (Read more)

‘It’s a cesspool!’: ESPN’s Dick Vitale says it’s time the NCAA paid players

The ESPN icon raged about exploited players and the omission of smaller schools from the tournament field. (Read more)

Snubs and surprises: Here’s how the bracket broke down

There were some high-profile teams with big wins left out of the field of 68. (Read more)

Maryland awaits winner of Belmont/Temple play-in game

The Terrapins scored a No. 6 seed, but won’t know their opponent for a little longer. (Read more)

Virginia lands No. 1 seed in the South

The Cavaliers will look for redemption, once again positioned as a top seed. (Read more)

Virginia Tech starts tournament against Saint Louis

The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team continued an unprecedented run of success under Coach Buzz Williams by securing a berth in the NCAA tournament for a program-record third straight season when the field of 68 was announced Sunday. (Read more)

Read more:

A quick look at each team that has clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament

Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith rile up college basketball fans. They don’t care.

How Mike Krzyzewski mastered the one-and-done era

A reporter wouldn’t hype Bradley University’s ‘brand,’ so it pulled his basketball credential

John Feinstein: When you’re Colgate, there’s only one Adonal Foyle, and no shortcuts back to March Madness