Are you ready for March Madness?
On Sunday, the N.C.A.A. announced the 68 teams that will compete in the 2019 Division I men’s basketball tournament from Tuesday through April 8.
About 47 million people — one in five American adults — are expected to bet a combined $8.5 billion on the tournament.
Will you watch any of the games? Will you fill out a bracket? Who do you think will win the tournament?
In “N.C.A.A. Tournament: Duke and the A.C.C. Rule the Bracket,” Marc Tracy writes:
Duke was given the No. 1 overall seed in the N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball tournament Sunday night, starting Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his star freshman Zion Williamson on a path to what they hope will be the Blue Devils’ sixth national title.
Duke (29-5) was one of three Atlantic Coast Conference teams to receive top seeds, joining Virginia (29-3) and North Carolina (27-6). It was the second time members of the same conference were named three of the four No. 1s; the Big East did so in 2009.
The fourth No. 1 seed was Gonzaga (30-3), the small stalwart from Spokane, Wash. While the Bulldogs lost the West Coast Conference title game to St. Mary’s last week, they already have a win over Duke on their résumé from a tournament in late November in Hawaii.
Of course, a top seed is no ticket to the Final Four in Minneapolis. Or even to the second round. Last year, for the first time in 136 such games, a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 when the University of Maryland-Baltimore County stunned Virginia.
And in, “Six N.C.A.A. Upset Picks to Enliven Your Bracket,” Mr. Tracy writes:
We call them upsets. But unless you root for the team on the wrong end of one, they are the happiest things on Earth. They should be called overjoyeds.
There are two kinds of tournament underdogs. There is the team that makes an unlikely deep run — to the second weekend, the regional final, the Final Four — by artfully dodging the biggest threats, by emerging as a great squad in its own right. Then there is the team that knocks off a contender before normalcy reasserts itself. The first kind is a new planet, or an aged single-malt scotch; the second kind is a comet, or a tequila shot.
Here are some tequila shots. No predictions are made for this year’s Loyola-Chicago, the No. 11 seed that made last year’s Final Four through the blessings of Sister Jean, good shooting and the luck of facing a No. 9 seed in the regional final.
Rather, these six teams stand a better chance of winning their first games than you — and, more important, the other people in your pool — might think. Don’t sleep on the unlikeliest likeliest of all, at the bottom.
Here are two of Mr. Tracy’s upset picks:
No. 12 vs. No. 5
Murray State Will Beat Marquette
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN Basketball is a team sport, sure, but sometimes you just want to know which team has the best player on the court. And with all due respect to the Golden Eagles’ sensational Markus Howard, the answer is Murray State — thanks to high-flying guard Ja Morant, a sophomore who has played his way into N.B.A. lottery pick status.
No. 14 vs. No. 3
Yale Will Beat Louisiana State
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN It is refreshing that, this year, the jokes will not be about Ivy League elitism but Ivy League corruption: This is a positive development for the democratic sensibility. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the Ivy League remains one of the better midmajor conferences; it has gone 4-6 in opening N.C.A.A. tournament games over the last 10 seasons. This year’s Bulldogs were the league’s best team, per KenPom.com, and the team boasts an N.B.A. prospect in the junior Miye Oni.
Students, choose one of the articles and read it in its entirety, then tell us:
— How excited are you about March Madness? Will you watch or go to any of the games? Which teams are you rooting for?
— Will you fill out a bracket or join a pool this year? If so, what do you like about doing it, and why? Is the bracket competition more fun than the actual games? Why or why not?
— Which teams do you predict will be in the Final Four? Who will win? Will there be any major upsets this year? What matchups are you most looking forward to watching? Do you agree with any of Mr. Tracy’s picks?
— Will you be watching any of the games in the women’s Division I bracket, which was announced on Monday? Baylor (31-1), Mississippi State (30-2), Louisville (29-3) and Notre Dame (30-3) earned No. 1 seeds in this year’s field.
— If basketball isn’t your thing, what bracket-style competition can you imagine that you might enjoy more? For instance, maybe you’d like to participate in March Book Madness?