March Madness 2019: Tournament Schedule, Bracket Predictions for No. 1 Seeds

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 5, 2019

Virginia guard Kyle Guy (5) Virginia guard De'Andre Hunter (12) and Virginia guard Ty Jerome (11) watch a foul shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Charlottesville, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Virginia defeated Wake Forest 68-45. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/Associated Press

The eight-team race for a No. 1 seed in the 2019 NCAA Tournament is approaching the final turn.

Selection Sunday is only two weeks away, meaning we've never had a clearer picture of this year's March Madness field.

After laying out the tournament schedule, let's examine the four clubs we expect to clinch a top seed.


March Madness 2019 Schedule

Selection Sunday: March 17

First Four: March 19, 20

First Round: March 21, 22

Second Round: March 23, 24

Sweet 16: March 28, 29

Elite 8: March 30, 31

Final Four: April 6

National Championship: April 8


No. 1 Seed Predictions


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - MARCH 02: De'Andre Hunter #12 of the Virginia Cavaliers drives past Jared Wilson-Frame #4 of the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second half during a game at John Paul Jones Arena on March 2, 2019 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by R
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Two teams have top-five KenPom rankings on both offense and defense. One is Virginia; the other is Duke, the only team to topple the Cavaliers (27-2) this season.

Head coach Tony Bennett's bunch might be the nation's most consistent.

The Cavaliers have eight wins over ranked opponents. They get at least 13 points a night from De'Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. They shoot 40 percent from distance overall. They have the second-most efficient defense.

This feels like the safest lock of the four.



SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 23:  Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils stands on the court prior to the game against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome on February 23, 2019 in Syracuse, New York. Duke defeated Syracuse 75-65. (Photo by Rich Barnes/G
Rich Barnes/Getty Images

If the Cavs aren't the most complete team in college basketball, then it's the Blue Devils. Duke (25-4) pairs the No. 2 offense with the No. 4 defense, and the latter number might be even more impressive considering the top four rotation players are all freshmen.

Mike Krzyzewski's group has star power no one else can rival. The big board of Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman has four Blue Devils among the top 25, including No. 1 (Zion Williamson), No. 2 (RJ Barrett) and No. 6 (Cam Reddish).

Duke hasn't been quite the same since losing Williamson to a sprained knee, but the super-sized high-flyer could be back rocking rims sooner than later.

"He's in phase four of the four-phase program," Krzyzewski said. "It's just a matter of how long he stays in it. We feel comfortable."

The rest of the country should probably feel frightened. No team has a higher ceiling than Duke.



Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

As per usual, Mark Few's Bulldogs blitzed through the entire West Coast Conference. But it's up to the committee to decide what that should mean.

Gonzaga was in a league of its own.

The Zags slaughtered their WCC opponents on a nightly basis. They not only went a perfect 16-0 in conference play, but they also won every game by double-digit points. Their average margin of victory was an astronomic 27.0, which CBS Sports noted is the highest for any team during conference play since UNLV in 1991.

Gonzaga might have secured its No. 1 seed already, although the schedule hasn't been much help. The Bulldogs only played three ranked teams, toppling Duke but also losing to both Tennessee and North Carolina.



Wade Payne/Associated Press

This is the most tightly contested of the No. 1 seeds, but it's back in the Volunteers' hands (for now, at least) after their resounding revenge victory over the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday.

Two weeks after stomaching a 17-point loss in Lexington, Tennessee upped the ante with a 19-point statement win on its home floor. Jordan Bone scored a career-high 27 points, Grant Williams added 24 points, and that was more than enough with the Vols holding the 'Cats to just 31.8 percent shooting.

"The last game, they just manhandled us and they were the more physical team," Bone told reporters. "You could just tell the way the game went, they just wanted it more. We don't ever want to [...] leave a game saying that about another team, they wanted it more than us. That's something we challenged ourselves with."

The way the Volunteers responded Saturday moved them back to the top line, but they'll need to show that same resolve through the final stretch to stay there.