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Printable NCAA Tournament Bracket 2019: Downloadable Sheet, Tips for Best Picks

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2019

No. 1 seed Duke will try to avoid the fate suffered by top-seeded Virginia in last year's NCAA tournament.
No. 1 seed Duke will try to avoid the fate suffered by top-seeded Virginia in last year's NCAA tournament.Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Basketball fans are not satisfied by rooting for their own teams or watching exciting finishes. When it comes to the NCAA tournament, college basketball fans like to show off their expertise by filling out brackets and predicting winners.

Of course, many fans are going to make a trip to Las Vegas or take advantage of new laws that legalize sports gambling by wagering on the tournament games, but the idea of dominating bracket picks, either in the office or on a national basis, heightens the interest that fans have in the Big Dance.

We offer the opportunity to make your picks by downloading this bracket and making your picks, courtesy of NCAA.com.

There's more to this piece than the opportunity to print out your bracket. We have tips for you to use when making your picks that can lead to success in the 68-team tournament.

Will all these tips pay off? We offer no guarantees because the NCAA tournament is not known for logical outcomes.

Just go back to last year's first round when 16th-seeded UMBC defeated Virginia, a No. 1 seed. The defeat by a No. 16 seed was historic, but the idea that a defensive powerhouse like the Cavaliers would lose to such a relatively unknown and unproven team like UMBC made no sense at all.

While we don't expect another 1-16 upset, we do expect several upsets along the way.

Great respect has been shown to the Atlantic Coast Conference, as Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are all No. 1 seeds. The last time one conference had three No. 1 seeds was 2009, when Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Louisville represented the Big East. All three made it to the Elite Eight, but UConn was the only one to make it to the Final Four.

Expect Duke and North Carolina to get to the Final Four this time, and if they do, there's an excellent chance that a fourth meeting will take place in the national championship game.

As Harrison Goodman of the New York Post recommended, check out the KenPom.com efficiency ratings: "Since 2002, only UConn in 2014 has won while not finishing in the top 25 in offensive and defensive efficiency. This year's teams that qualify: Virginia, Gonzaga, Duke, Michigan State, Michigan, North Carolina, Kentucky and Houston."

Another tip from Goodman, you can pick one long shot to make it to the Final Four: "At least one team seeded seventh or lower has reached the national semifinals." Those teams include No. 9 Wichita State in 2013, No. 8 Kentucky in 2014, No. 7 Michigan State in 2015, No. 10 Syracuse in 2016, No. 7 South Carolina in 2017 and No. 11 Loyola of Chicago in 2018.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 12:  Rui Hachimura #21 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs drives against Malik Fitts #24 of the Saint Mary's Gaels during the championship game of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on March 12, 2019 in Las
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Speaking of No. 11 seeds, it is important not to dismiss them. Four No. 11 seeds have made the Final Four since the current format was put in play, and that's more than seventh, ninth or 10th seeds, per Goodman.

When making your bracket selections, you do need to find quite a few upsets. There have been at least 10 upsets in 27 of the 34 years the tournament has had its current format, per Daniel Wilco of NCAA.com. So if you like the favorites, fill out your bracket and then go back and make sure you have at least 10 upsets (where the lower-seeded team was at least two spots worse than its opponent) throughout the tournament.

Don't pick teams that had losing conference records to win more than one game in the conference tournament. Of the 41 teams that historically fit that category, only six have won more than one game, per ESPN.com's Keith Lipscomb, who noted that "this year, Ohio State, Minnesota, St. John's and Oklahoma fit that description." Stay away from the Buckeyes, Golden Gophers, Red Storm and Sooners.