The greatest few days in American sports are almost upon us.

Here’s a prediction for every 2019 NCAA tournament first round game.

East Region

Duke boasts top seed in East Region

(1) Duke vs. (16) North Carolina Central/North Dakota State

No need to get cute here. Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and the crew should roll over the winner of the First Four game with ease.

Winner: Duke

(8) VCU vs. (9) UCF

The Rams’ defense is the best unit in this game by far, but this is a fantastic 8-9 matchup. VCU ranks seventh in the country in defense, per KenPom. UCF’s offense is hit-or-miss, and it will struggle putting up points in this pressure-packed environment.

Winner: VCU

(5) Mississippi State vs. (12) Liberty

This will be a good one, but the Mississippi State backcourt of Lamar Peters and Quinndary Weatherspoon could overwhelm Liberty. The Flames’ stoppers are in the frontcourt, and that duo has the potential to run wild.

Winner: Mississippi State

(4) Virginia Tech vs. (13) Saint Louis

Justin Robinson is back, and this is a fascinating clash of styles. The Hokies love to bomb 3s. Saint Louis loves to slow the game down. Virginia Tech has far more firepower, though, and has been playing well after some turbulence about a month ago.

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Winner: Virginia Tech

(6) Maryland vs. (11) Belmont/Temple

Yes, Belmont needs to scoot by Temple in order to get a crack at Maryland. But the Bruins are outstanding offensively, and have only lost once since Jan. 17. Belmont makes 59.5 percent of its 2s, good for second in the country. Look for the Bruins to make Bruno Fernando come outside of the paint and guard ball screen after ball screen.

Winner: Belmont

(3) LSU vs. (14) Yale

This is probably the most likely 14-over-3 upset candidate, but we’re still going with LSU. The Tigers went 16-2 in one of the best conferences in America. That said, this could come down to the wire, and Yale’s Miye Oni is one of the most well-rounded players in the field.

Winner: LSU

(7) Louisville vs. (10) Minnesota

Richard Pitino takes on his dad’s former school, and the Cardinals are vulnerable right now, having lost eight of their last 12. The Amir Coffey-Jordan Murphy pair can be dominant for Minnesota. The Gophers have beaten 3 seed Purdue twice this March, which is awfully impressive.

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Winner: Minnesota

(2) Michigan State vs. (15) Bradley

Sparty should roll here. Tom Izzo has arguably done his best coaching job ever with this group, and Bradley doesn’t have the guys to hang.

Winner: Michigan State

West Region

Mark Few shares thoughts on Zags’ No. 1 seed in West Region

(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M

This is a really strong group of 1 seeds, and Gonzaga arguably has the best starting five in the country. Should be a blowout.

Winner: Gonzaga

(8) Syracuse vs. (9) Baylor

Hard to pick against Syracuse in the NCAA tournament these days, right? The Orange have won seven games in their last two tourney appearances, and they have a higher seed in 2019 than they did in 2016 or 2018.

Winner: Syracuse

(5) Marquette vs. (12) Murray State

The best individual matchup of the first round: Ja Morant vs. Markus Howard. Give us Morant, who more or less single-handedly beat Belmont in the OVC title game. Marquette has struggled lately, having lost five of its last six.

Winner: Murray State

(4) Florida State vs. (13) Vermont

The Seminoles have crazy depth. They have eight guys who average at least six points per game. FSU looks primed for a deep run — it’s only lost two games since Jan. 20. The opponents? North Carolina and Duke. The Seminoles have dominated lesser competition along the way.

Winner: Florida State

(6) Buffalo vs. (11) Arizona State/St. John’s

Buffalo upset Arizona last year, and this year’s crew is even better. C.J. Massinburg is a stud, and while Arizona or St. John’s would present challenges, the Bulls are far more consistent than either team.

Buffalo upsets Arizona, 89-68

Winner: Buffalo

(3) Texas Tech vs. (14) Northern Kentucky

Texas Tech suffered a surprising loss in the Big 12 tournament, but it was on fire before that, having won nine in a row. It’s hard to pick against Jarrett Culver and the No. 1 defense in the land.

Winner: Texas Tech

(7) Nevada vs. (10) Florida

Nevada is the oldest team in the field, made it to the Sweet 16 last year, and has two guys who average at least 17 points per game. Florida has athletes, but its offense is maddeningly inconsistent.

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Winner: Nevada

(2) Michigan vs. (15) Montana

Michigan has zero sub-40 KenPom losses this year. The Wolverines beat the teams they are supposed to beat, and it should handle Montana just fine.

Winner: Michigan

South Region

Virginia is the No. 1 seed out of the South Region

(1) Virginia vs. (16) Gardner-Webb

No repeat of last year, but this will be one to watch. We can’t overstate how important it is that De’Andre Hunter is healthy for the Cavaliers.

Winner: Virginia

(8) Ole Miss vs. (9) Oklahoma

Ole Miss has really fallen lately, having lost five of seven. Christian James and Brady Manek are big wings who can guard, shoot and penetrate. They are inherently valuable because of how many boxes they check. Look for both guys to make a big impact in this one.

Winner: Oklahoma

(5) Wisconsin vs. (12) Oregon

Oregon is the trendy upset pick, and it’s easy to see why. The game is in San Jose and the Ducks are on fire. But Ethan Happ is a top 10 (or higher) player, and the Badgers have the No. 3 defense and a recently successful NCAA tournament track record.

Oregon beats Washington to claim Pac-12 title

Winner: Wisconsin

(4) Kansas State vs. (13) UC Irvine

Dean Wade’s status is unclear for Kansas State, and Russell Turner can flat out coach. The Anteaters haven’t lost since Jan. 16 and have the best 2-point defense in the country. The Wildcats only rank 102nd in offense, and that number factors in Wade. Give us UC Irvine in an upset.

Winner: UC Irvine

(6) Villanova vs. (11) St. Mary’s

Villanova gets more than half of its offense from behind the 3-point line, and St. Mary’s only allows foes to make 31.8 percent of its 3s. Granted, the Wildcats can light up anyone on the right night. But the Gaels are fresh off a win over Gonzaga, and are equipped to handle the Villanova perimeter attack.

Winner: St. Mary’s

(3) Purdue vs. (14) Old Dominion

Carsen Edwards will easily be the best player on the floor, and Purdue surrounds him with shooting. Old Dominion ranks 216th in offense and probably isn’t the team that can exploit the Boilermakers’ weaknesses on that end.

Winner: Purdue

(7) Cincinnati vs. (10) Iowa

Cincinnati looks better than a 7 seed right now; it just beat Houston easily in the AAC final, and the Cougars are good enough to make the Final Four. Tyler Cook and Luka Garza won’t overpower the Bearcats’ front line like they do to so many others.

Committee chair Bernard Muir fields questions about the selection process

Winner: Cincinnati

(2) Tennessee vs. (15) Colgate

Colgate likely won’t have an answer for Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, and on the off chance it does, the Volunteers have another dimension this year with point guard Jordan Bone’s rapid emergence.

Winner: Tennessee

Midwest

North Carolina claims the top spot in the Midwest Region

(1) North Carolina vs. (16) Iona

Tar Heels should have no issue here. They are a legit national title contender, and while Iona is a nice story, it doesn’t match up guy for guy.

Winner: North Carolina

We checked to see if 16 vs. 1 games have been getting closer.

(8) Utah State vs. (9) Washington

Washington is excellent at taking the ball away from foes, and Utah State coughs it up on almost 18 percent of its possessions, which ranks 126th. Teams seem to have trouble navigating zones during tournament play. Just ask Syracuse.

Winner: Washington

(5) Auburn vs. (12) New Mexico State

A fascinating 5-12 matchup, but Auburn has elite guard play and momentum on its side. The Tigers just rolled Tennessee, and Jared Harper and Bryce Brown thrive in big games.

Auburn wins SEC tournament

Winner: Auburn

(4) Kansas vs. (13) Northeastern

Dedric Lawson should be able to overpower perimeter-oriented Northeastern. Bill Coen’s team can really shoot it, but it will need to get crazy hot from 3-point land to top the Jayhawks.

(6) Iowa State vs. (11) Ohio State

Ohio State has really scuffled in the second half of the season, and the Cyclones are playing some of their best ball of the year. Marial Shayok will be the best player on the floor, and ISU simply has a higher overall skill level.

Winner: Iowa State

How many No. 1 seeds should you pick in your bracket?

(3) Houston vs. (14) Georgia State

The Cougars stumbled against the Bearcats, but they are 31-3 for a reason and have a top 15 defense. Georgia State is outside of the top 100 on both ends of the floor.

(7) Wofford vs. (10) Seton Hall

Wofford shoots 41.6 percent from 3-point range, which ranks second in the country. Seton Hall ranks 129th in 3-point defense. America will know Fletcher Magee’s name by the end of this one.

Winner: Wofford

(2) Kentucky vs. (15) Abilene Christian

John Calipari-coached Kentucky teams don’t get upset in the first round. P.J. Washington and Reid Travis will be too much for the undersized Wildcats to stop.

Winner: Kentucky

March Madness 2019 dates, schedule, live streams and TV networks

Game Livestream Time (ET) TV Site
First Four, Tuesday, March 19        
Prairie View vs. Farleigh Dickinson March Madness Live 6:30 pm truTV Dayton, OH
Temple vs. Belmont  March Madness Live 9:00 pm TruTV Dayton, OH
First Four, Wednesday, March 20        
NC Central vs. North Dakota State March Madness Live  6:30 pm truTV Dayton, OH
St. John’s vs. Arizona State March Madness Live 9:00 pm truTV Dayton, OH
First round, Thursday, March 21        
Minnesota vs. Louisville March Madness Live 12:00 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
Yale vs. LSU March Madness Live 12:30 pm truTV Jacksonville, FL
New Mexico St. vs. Auburn March Madness Live  1:20 pm TNT Salt Lake City, UT
Vermont vs. Florida St. March Madness Live 1:50 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Bradley vs. Michigan St. March Madness Live  2:30 pm CBS Des Moines, IA
Belmont/Temple vs. Maryland March Madness Live 3:00 pm truTV Jacksonville, FL
Northeastern vs. Kansas March Madness Live 3:50 pm TNT Salt Lake City, UT
Murray St. vs. Marquette March Madness Live 4:20 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Florida vs. Nevada March Madness Live 6:45 pm TNT Des Moines, IA
Abilene Christian vs. Kentucky March Madness Live 7:00 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Saint Mary’s vs. Villanova March Madness Live 7:15 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Farleigh Dickinson/ Prairie View vs. Gonzaga March Madness Live 7:15 pm truTV Salt Lake City, UT
Montana vs. Michigan March Madness Live 9:15 pm TNT Des Moines, IA
Seton Hall vs. Wofford March Madness Live 9:30 pm CBS Jacksonville, FL
Old Dominion vs. Purdue March Madness Live 9:45 pm TBS Hartford, CT
Baylor vs. Syracuse March Madness Live 9:55 pm truTV Salt Lake City, UT
First round, Friday, March 22        
Iowa vs. Cincinnati March Madness Live 12:00 pm CBS Columbus, OH
Oklahoma vs. Mississippi March Madness Live 12:30 pm truTV Columbia, SC
Northern Kentucky vs. Texas Tech March Madness Live 1:30 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
UC Irvine vs. Kansas St. March Madness Live 1:50 pm  TBS San Jose, CA
Colgate vs. Tennessee March Madness Live 2:30 pm CBS Columbus, OH
Gardner-Webb vs. Virginia March Madness Live 3:00 pm truTV Columbia, SC
Arizona St./St. John’s vs. Buffalo March Madness Live 3:50 pm TNT Tulsa, OK
Oregon vs. Wisconsin March Madness Live 4:20 pm TBS San Jose, CA
Washington vs. Utah St. March Madness Live 6:45 pm TNT Columbus, OH
NC Central/ North Dakota St. vs. Duke March Madness Live 7:00 pm CBS Columbia, SC
Georgia St. vs. Houston March Madness Live 7:15 pm TBS Tulsa, OK 
Liberty vs. Mississippi St. March Madness Live 7:15 pm truTV San Jose, CA
Iona vs. North Carolina March Madness Live 9:15 pm TNT Columbus, OH
UCF vs. VCU March Madness Live 9:30 pm CBS Columbia, SC
Ohio St. vs. Iowa St. March Madness Live 9:45 pm TBS Tulsa, OK
Saint Louis vs. Virginia Tech March Madness Live  9:55 pm truTV San Jose, CA
Second round, Saturday, March 23        
TBD March Madness Live 12:00 pm CBS  
TBD March Madness Live 2:30 pm CBS  
TBD March Madness Live 5:00 pm CBS  
TBD March Madness Live 6:00 pm TNT  
TBD March Madness Live 7:00 pm TBS  
TBD March Madness Live 7:30 pm CBS  
TBD March Madness Live 8:30 pm TNT  
TBD March Madness Live 9:30 pm TBS  
Second round, Sunday, March 24        
TBD March Madness Live 12:00 pm CBS  
TBD March Madness Live 2:30 pm CBS  
TBD March Madness Live 5:00 pm CBS  
TBD March Madness Live 6:00 pm CBS  
TBD March Madness Live 7:00 pm TBS  
TBD March Madness Live 7:30 pm truTV  
TBD March Madness Live 8:30 pm TNT  
TBD March Madness Live 9:30 pm TBS  
March 28-31        
South Regional March Madness Live March 28/30   Louisville, KY
West Regional March Madness Live March 28/30   Anaheim, CA
East Regional March Madness Live March 29/31   Washington, D.C.
Midwest Regional March Madness Live March 29/31   Kansas City, MO
Saturday, April 6        
Final Four March Madness Live 6:00 pm CBS Minneapolis, MN
Final Four March Madness Live 8:30 pm CBS Minneapolis, MN
Monday, April 8        
National Championship March Madness Live 9:00 pm CBS Minneapolis, MN
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