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NCAA tournament bracket tips, for the procrastinators: A final guide to win your March Madness pool



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Will there be another Loyola-Chicago Cinderella run this year? Maybe. Scott Gleeson thinks these five teams could shock the college basketball world.
USA TODAY Sports

Forget about those early play-in games? Or, even worse: forget to fill out your bracket? Now is your chance to get it done!

USA TODAY Sports has you covered, providing last-minute advice for the 2019 NCAA tournament with all the analysis and insight you’ll need to win your office pool. 

Before we start, do you need a printable bracket? Print one here

Next, make sure you join USA TODAY Sports Brackets. Enter our pool or create your own and invite friends! 

Here are some general do’s and don’ts for making your picks, as well as a snapshot of the field

Now we dive deeper. Here are region-by-region breakdowns that dissect every team’s strengths and weaknesses, including their current winning/losing streak and the best players that can dominate in March:

East | South 

West | Midwest

Expert picks

Conflicted? Let our experts make the calls for you. Here are their picks to help you navigate the tricky waters of March Madness. Hint: Duke is a popular pick. 

Scott Gleeson | Shelby Mast 

Danielle Lerner | Dan Wolken

Still want more? Here’s some thorough bracket help: 

MISTAKES TO AVOID: There’s a slim margin for error when it comes to winning your NCAA tournament bracket pool. But one way to win your bracket is to simply avoid obvious errors that could prove costly.

WHO CAN BE CINDERELLA?: Here’s a look at five mid-major teams that are double-digit seeds in the NCAA tournament but could be poised to potentially bust the bracket wide open. Don’t make your picks without considering these teams

PEAKING IN MARCH: These are the nine hottest teams in the NCAA tournament poised to go on deep runs based on winning streak and late-season momentum. 

FINAL FOUR SLEEPERS: These squads might not be a No. 1 or 2 seed but they have what it takes to make an unexpected push for Minneapolis. 

SMART UPSET PICKS: Check out the four smartest upset picks in the first round

DON’T COUNT ON:  The teams on this list have been ranked in the Top 25 a majority of the season, but don’t rely on them to make a deep run. Each could run into trouble early in the tournament.

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All-America

USA TODAY Sports selected its three-team All-America team for the 2018-19 season as the NCAA tourney tips off. You’ll see some key names of players who have the ability to take over in March. The national player of the year and coach of the year could also lead their teams into the Final Four. 

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Tournament Central

ANOTHER MIRACLE: Remember UMBC? Just a year ago this No. 16 seed pulled off perhaps the greatest upset in NCAA tournament history by bouncing a No. 1 seed, Virginia, in the first round for the first time in history. Dan Wolken explores how quickly it could happen again and what last year’s upset does for No. 16 seeds’ psyche this year.  

BRACKET QUESTIONS: Did Michigan State get hosed by being in the same Regional as Duke? And what’s with Cincinnati’s and Kansas’ home court advantages in a tournament that’s supposed to be neutral court opportunities? All that and more is explored in a post-Selection Sunday bracket review.  

ONE (NEEDED) SHINING MOMENT: Though this has not been college basketball’s finest season, Nancy Armour writes all that can change with an NCAA tournament that thrills your soul. 

– ONE-AND-DONE DEBATE: Zion Williamson’s return from injury and dominant play in the ACC tournament reminds us that he has flipped the script on one-and-done chatter, writes Dan Wolken.

–  ELATION AMID MADNESS: Belmont coach Rick Byrd and his Bruins were one of the last four teams to squeeze into the field of 68 on Selection Sunday. Players got hyped and their longtime coach couldn’t fight back the tears when Belmont rolled off Greg Gumbel’s tongue.  

BAD CALLS: Several teams were over-seeded and under-seeded. Here’s a look at the committee’s five biggest head-scratchers from an otherwise decent selection show. 

– MARCH SADNESS: Here are the eight biggest snubs of this year’s tournament field, starting with mid-major UNC-Greensboro and the Big Ten’s Indiana. In short, Spartans coach Wes Miller and Indiana coach Archie Miller (unrelated Millers) weren’t happy with their fate in the NIT. 



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What I’m Hearing: According to USA TODAY’s Scott Gleeson, the NET score metric is the reason one potential Cinderella team feels they got snubbed from the tournament.
USA TODAY

NOSTALGIA: A blast from the past to get die-hard fans hyped.

If you’ve still got an appetite for more, tweet us at @USATODAYSports or follow us on Facebook and we’ll direct you to our college hoops specialists.

ALL 68 NCAA TOURNAMENT TEAMS

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