March Madness 2019 bracket: Proven computer simulation predicts surprising upsets

 cbssports.com  03/19/2019 17:32:00   CBS Sports Staff

The 2019 NCAA Tournament field is set, with 68 teams beginning their national championship quest this week. March Madness 2019 begins with the First Four games in Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday, where Belmont will look to shock the college basketball world after its unlikely at-large bid. There's plenty at stake too, as a First Four team has made the Round of 32 every year since the format started in 2011. Then, the rest of March Madness tips off on Thursday with 7-seed Louisville taking on 10-seed Minnesota at 12:15 p.m. ET in Des Moines, where Gophers coach Richard Pitino will have a chance to exact revenge on Louisville, his father's former team. That's one of the potential 2019 March Madness upset picks you could select as you fill out your 2019 NCAA Tournament brackets. With so many storylines in play, you should see the March Madness picks from the proven computer model at SportsLine before setting your 2019 NCAA Tournament brackets.

Last year, SportsLine's computer simulation nailed some massive upsets, including huge wins by No. 13 seed Buffalo over No. 4 seed Arizona, No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago over No. 6 seed Miami, and No. 10 seed Butler over No. 7 seed Arkansas.

This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, has nailed 12 of the 18 first-round upsets by double-digit seeds the past three years. Getting those picks right could literally make or break your March Madness bracket.

Now, SportsLine's advanced computer model has simulated the entire NCAA Tournament 10,000 times to come up with the perfect 2019 NCAA Tournament bracket, and find out which teams will pull off the biggest upsets. You shouldn't even think about making a pick without seeing what their model has to say.

What they found: No. 8 seed VCU falls to No. 9 seed UCF in the first round. The Knights take this matchup outright in over 60 percent of simulations, making it one of the computer's highly confident 2019 March Madness picks. 

UCF is coming off an impressive 23-8 season where it went 13-5 in the AAC. The Knights made their biggest statement in early March with wins over 3-seed Houston on the road and 7-seed Cincinnati at home in back-to-back games. They've faced NCAA Tournament-level talent all season long.

Central Florida has sensational size on the inside with massive 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall and 6-foot-11 Collin Smith at forward. With those two pounding the offensive glass, B.J. Taylor and Aubrey Dawkins can let if fly from the outside, where Taylor shoots 36.8 percent from three-point range, while Dawkins is at 39.2. 

Look for UCF's size to have a major impact defensively too. VCU shoots just 30.7 percent from the three-point line and relies on its ability to get to the rim and score. With Fall averaging 2.5 blocks per game and avoiding foul trouble for most of the season, it could be tough for the Rams to score in the paint, which is why the model gives UCF the victory in 62 percent of simulations.

Another huge curveball: No. 3 seed LSU falls loses in the first round to No. 14 Yale. The Tigers are dealing with significant distractions surrounding their program with LSU head coach Will Wade suspended. Along with a matchup against a hungry Florida program, Wade's absence led to the SEC regular-season champions being bounced in their first game of the conference tournament. 

Yale won't be a cakewalk for LSU. The Bulldogs just put a staggering 97 points on arch-rivals Harvard in the Ivy League Tournament title game. It was revenge for two regular-season losses that led to Harvard stealing the league from Yale even though the Bulldogs had been the better team throughout the season. Yale has wins over Cal and Miami under its belt and won't be intimidated by LSU. 

Look for Miye Oni and Alex Copeland to attack LSU relentlessly as big guards who can handle the basketball, shoot effectively, and finish around the rim. Florida's Andrew Nembhard is a similar guard and had 20 points, six assists and four rebounds against LSU in the SEC Tournament. That's a big reason why the model is picking the Bulldogs to pull off one of the top 2019 March Madness upsets.

SportsLine's model also has one region where you need to pick the Nos. 11, 12 and 13 seeds, and another region with a No. 3 seed in the Final Four. Nailing those picks could literally make or break your bracket.

So what's the optimal NCAA Tournament 2019 bracket? And which underdogs shock college basketball? Visit SportsLine now to see which No. 3 seed makes the Final Four, and see which region you need to pick the 11, 12, and 13 seeds, all from the model that's nailed 12 of the 18 double-digit seed upsets the past three years.

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