March Madness Bracket 2019: Complete 1st-Round Picks for Your Printable Sheet

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 20, 2019

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 16:  Jordan Murphy #3 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers dribbles the ball while being guarded by Charles Matthews #1 of the Michigan Wolverines in the first half during the semifinals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at United Center on March 16, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The most anticipated 48 hours of the college basketball season is right around the corner. 

The 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament first round kicks off Thursday afternoon with the first of 32 matchups staggered across two days.

There are plenty of possible upsets waiting to occur up and down the bracket, and there's a strong possibility a few double-digit seeds make their way into the spotlight similar to UMBC, Buffalo, Marshall and Loyola-Chicago in 2018. 

Before you lock in your picks, it's best to review the bracket one more time, which can be found in a printable version on NCAA.com.


2019 NCAA Tournament Bracket


1st-Round Picks

(10) Minnesota over (7) Louisville (East Region, Thursday, 12:15 p.m. ET) 

The opening game of the first round comes with a bonus off-the-court storyline that everyone will focus on. 

Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino is going up against Louisville, the school that fired his dad Rick Pitino amid the FBI investigation into recruiting violations. 

Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

The younger Pitino did a nice job getting the Golden Gophers into the field of 68, as they reeled off two wins against Purdue in March to bolster their resume.

In Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy, Minnesota has a pair of terrific scorers who are capable of putting opponents under pressure from the start. 

Murphy can be particularly imposing down low, as he comes into the Big Dance averaging 14.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. 

If Murphy isn't doing work on the glass, then Minnesota turns to Daniel Oturu, who averages 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. 

Louisville doesn't have a player who rebounds as consistently as Murphy or Oturu, but it may have the best player on the court in Des Moines, Iowa, in Jordan Nwora. 

The sophomore forward scored in double digits in all but three games for the Cardinals, and he'll be tasked with getting Chris Mack's team into a rhythm early. 

But Louisville may have trouble getting into a scoring rhythm, as it enters the Big Dance in bad form.

Since the start of February, the Cardinals are 4-8, and their last three wins came against ACC teams that failed to qualify for the field of 68. 

Because Louisville hasn't shown much lately to convince us it can win Thursday, and Minnesota has, we're siding with the Golden Gophers. 


(7) Cincinnati over (10) Iowa (South Region, Friday, 12:15 p.m. ET) 

If you're a fan of flashy offensive plays, you might want to sit out Friday's opener. 

Cincinnati and Iowa are expected to get into a rock fight in Columbus, Ohio, with the right to play second-seeded Tennessee on the line. 

CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 10: Jarron Cumberland #34 of the Cincinnati Bearcats dribbles the ball against Brison Gresham #55 of the Houston Cougars at Fifth Third Arena on March 10, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

In their last two first-round games, the Bearcats have given up 114 points, and they come into March Madness off a win in The American tournament final in which it limited Houston to 57 points. 

In three of their 28 victories, the Bearcats conceded over 70 points, and one of those three contests went to overtime. 

Iowa can be equally as stingy when it plays its best defense, as it allowed fewer than 70 points against NCAA tournament teams Michigan, Ohio State and Oregon. 

Mick Cronin's Bearcats have to be seen as the favorite in this matchup, as they come in with all the momentum gained from beating Houston and possess a hot shooter in Jarron Cumberland, who scored 33 points in Sunday's win. 

The same can't be said for Fran McCaffery's Hawkeyes, as they lost five of their last six games to stumble into a No. 10 seed. 

Although Cincinnati should win this matchup, don't expect it to overwhelm Iowa with offense, as it reached 75 points in a victory once since the start of February. 


Other Picks

East Region

(1) Duke over (16) NC Central

(9) UCF over (8) VCU 

(5) Mississippi State over (12) Liberty

(4) Virginia Tech over (13) Saint Louis

(6) Maryland over (11) Belmont

(14) Yale over (3) LSU 

(2) Michigan State over (15) Bradley 


West Region

(1) Gonzaga over (16) Fairleigh Dickinson

(8) Syracuse over (9) Baylor

(12) Murray State over (5) Marquette

(4) Florida State over (13) Vermont

(6) Buffalo over (11) Arizona State

(3) Texas Tech over (14) Northern Kentucky

(10) Florida over (7) Nevada

(2) Michigan over (15) Montana


South Region

(1) Virginia over (16) Gardner-Webb

(9) Oklahoma over (8) Ole Miss

(12) Oregon over (5) Wisconsin

(4) Kansas State over (13) UC Irvine

(11) Saint Mary's over (6) Villanova

(3) Purdue over (14) Old Dominion

(2) Tennessee over (15) Colgate


Midwest Region

(1) North Carolina over (16) Iona

(9) Washington over (8) Utah State

(5) Auburn over (12) New Mexico State

(4) Kansas over (13) Northeastern

(6) Iowa State over (11) Ohio State

(3) Houston over (14) Georgia State

(7) Wofford over (10) Seton Hall

(2) Kentucky over (15) Abilene Christian


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