Whittling down 68 candidates and deciding who will be the last one standing is a tedious task. But enough about the presidential race.

Take a break, America.

It’s Bracket Time again.

The field for this year’s NCAA tournament was revealed Sunday night, and by the time the games start in earnest, millions of people will fill out tens of millions of brackets in an effort to pick the national champion. There’s no Electoral College to select, no “deep state” either, not even Syracuse. And most hopes will be dashed before the end of the first weekend.

So let us help.

These painstaking facts and exacting analysis will help you win your pool, unless you have a better system to use, such as blind luck, team colors or neat nicknames.

In this field alone, there’s the Norse (Northern Kentucky), Jackrabbits (South Dakota State), two sets of Gaels (Iona and Saint Mary’s), and hawks of all sorts (the Jayhawks of Kansas, the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota and the Seahawks of UNC Wilmington).

Region by region, here’s a breakdown of what will happen over the next three weeks – and most importantly, how you can cut down your own nets by holding best-bracket-bragging-rights in your office.


Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed and defending national champion. It’s tough to repeat – no one has since Florida in 2006 and 2007 – and if the Wildcats are going to buck that trend they’ll likely have to beat the Gators along the way.

First-round winners: Villanova, Wisconsin, UNC Wilmington, Florida, USC, Baylor, Marquette and Duke.

Second round: Villanova over Wisconsin, Florida over UNC Wilmington, Baylor over USC and the teacher beats the student, Duke and Mike Krzyzewski oust Marquette and Steve Wojciechowski.

Semifinals: Villanova over Florida, Duke over Baylor.

Final: Villanova over Duke.


Kansas got no favors from the selection committee. But the Jayhawks almost seem as though they’ve been undervalued all season, maybe because winning the Big 12 regular season has become an annual rite.

First-round winners: Kansas, Miami, Iowa State, Vermont, Creighton, Oregon, Michigan, Louisville.

Second round: Kansas over Miami, Vermont over Iowa State, Oregon over Creighton, Michigan over Louisville.

Semifinals: Kansas over Vermont, Michigan over Oregon.

FINAL: Kansas over Michigan.


The marquee region, without question. North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA are seeded 1-2-3. They’re also 1-2-3 in all-time Final Four appearances: North Carolina has 19, Kentucky 17 and UCLA also 17 (because the 1980 appearance was vacated).

First-round winners: North Carolina, Arkansas, Middle Tennessee, Butler, Cincinnati, UCLA, Wichita State and Kentucky (though don’t be surprised if the Wildcats struggle with Northern Kentucky).

Second round: North Carolina over Arkansas, Butler over Middle Tennessee, UCLA over Cincinnati, Kentucky over Wichita State.

Semifinals: North Carolina over Butler, UCLA over Kentucky.

Final: North Carolina over UCLA.


And here’s the wild region. If chaos strikes one corner of your bracket, it will be this one.

First-round winners: Gonzaga, Northwestern, Princeton, West Virginia, Maryland, Florida Gulf Coast, Virginia Commonwealth, Arizona.

Second round: Northwestern over Gonzaga, West Virginia over Princeton, Maryland over Florida Gulf Coast, Arizona over Virginia Commonwealth.

Semifinals: West Virginia over Northwestern, Arizona over Maryland.

Final: Arizona over West Virginia.


So that leaves us with three No. 1 seeds – Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas – and a No. 2 seed in Arizona.

Villanova over Arizona in the all-Wildcats semifinal. North Carolina over Kansas in the all-Roy Williams other semifinal.

For the first time since 1961 and 1962, that means a title-game rematch awaits. Villanova vs. North Carolina, once again.


Nope. This time North Carolina wins it all.