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Marquette placed in west region, will play Murray StateSubmitted: 03/17/2019
- (WJFW) - Marquette earned a No. 5 seed and will play the Murray State Racers at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.



Think of the greatest rivalries in college sports. Michigan vs. Ohio State. Alabama vs. Auburn. Miami vs. Florida State. Everybody vs. Notre Dame.

Duke vs. North Carolina is as good as any, if not better.

They have met in basketball 251 times. They now have a combined 93 NCAA Tournament appearances. They've played a combined 318 NCAA Tournament games.


They have zero NCAA Tournament games against each other.

We devote this space every year to telling you how to win your NCAA bracket pool, and in each of the last two years we've made the pockets of millions, or thousands, or dozens, or possibly just three random people feel stuffed with all those well-earned $5 bills from the others in your office whose brackets were wrecked by roughly 2:51 p.m. on Day 1 of the tournament.

Two years ago, we gave you North Carolina.

Last year, we gave you Villanova. (We also gave you Virginia in the final. That was a misprint. We totally meant UMBC and strongly considered picking them again this year even though they're not in the field.)

When you get to the end of this story, you will know this year's NCAA champion. Do not scroll down yet. You must read the method to March Madness, though by teasing you with Duke vs. North Carolina you probably have a good idea where this is going. (If you don't, perhaps you should save your money and not enter any pools this year, including swimming ones.)

But before we begin, a few guidelines ...

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UNDERDOG WATCH: If you have every 1-2-3-4 seed making the Sweet 16 on your bracket, you're doing it wrong. At least one double-digit seed has made it to the tournament's second weekend 37 times in the last 40 seasons. More specifically, a No. 11 seed has reached the round of 16 in each of the last five seasons (with three of those No. 11s making it to the regional final, and with Loyola Chicago getting to the Final Four last year).

THINK 11 OVER 12: It used to be that the No. 12 over No. 5 upsets were all the rage. It's more like the No. 11 vs. No. 6 now. There have been 10 upsets in a 6-11 game over the last four years, and only three in 5-12 games.

7 OR BETTER: A team seeded No. 7 or higher has made the Final Four in each of the last six seasons. Before that, it happened only three times in the previous 25 seasons.

THERE WILL BE A NO. 1 SEED: At least one No. 1 seed has made the Final Four in 37 of the last 40 seasons.

BUT THERE WON'T BE FOUR: In those same 40 seasons, most No. 1 seeds " 59 percent of them " lose before the national semifinals. The only year where all four No. 1 seeds made the Final Four was 2008.


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So now that we've covered some of the basics, let's whittle this thing down to a manageable size.

Since a seeding structure went into place for the 1979 tournament, no team seeded No. 9 or higher has ever won the national championship. Same goes for every No. 5 seed. Florida in 2000, Indiana in 2002 and Butler in 2010 all reached the title game as No. 5 seeds and they all lost. (Apologies, then, to Mississippi State, Auburn, Wisconsin and Marquette. They're this year's 5 seeds and are obviously cursed.)

That means, through the process of elimination, we can safely delete all the 5 seeds and all the 9 through 16 seeds. Just like that, our 68-team bracket is down to a tidy 28-team list of contenders.

Out of those 28, 17 have never won a national title. There hasn't been a first-time champion since Florida in 2006. Don't expect that to change this year. So now we're down to 11.

With the exception of Arizona in 1997, every champion for the last 30 years has entered the tournament with at least 24 wins. That eliminates Maryland, Louisville and Syracuse.

Down to eight.

Duke and Michigan State in the East. Michigan in the West. North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky in the Midwest. Villanova and Cincinnati in the South.

Obviously, one of those eight will win the title. And it won't be Kansas, Cincinnati, or Michigan. None of them are going deeper than the Sweet 16.

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Perhaps it's time to make the actual picks.

EAST FIRST ROUND: Duke, UCF, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Belmont, Yale, Minnesota (Richard Pitino is not going to lose to Rick Pitino's most recent school) and the excellent brand that is Michigan State.

EAST SECOND ROUND: Duke (though alum Johnny Dawkins, the UCF coach, will scare his alma mater), Mississippi State, Belmont and Michigan State. Yes, Belmont is the official No. 11 seed pick to go deep this year.

EAST SEMIS/FINAL: Duke and Michigan State get to the final. Duke wins.

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WEST FIRST ROUND: Gonzaga, Syracuse, Murray State, Florida State, Buffalo, Northern Kentucky, Nevada, Michigan.

WEST SECOND ROUND: Syracuse (sorry, Zips), Florida State, Buffalo, Nevada.

WEST SEMIS/FINAL: It would be so neat to say Syracuse and Buffalo so two schools that are a two-hour drive apart have to fly 3,000 miles to play each other. But it'll be Florida State and Nevada. Here's your upset: Nevada wins.

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SOUTH FIRST ROUND: Virginia, Oklahoma, Oregon, UC Irvine, Villanova, Purdue, Cincinnati and Tennessee.

SOUTH SECOND ROUND: Virginia, Oregon, Villanova and Tennessee " though this will be a ridiculously tough game for the Vols since Cincinnati will be playing in Ohio.

SOUTH SEMIS/FINAL: Virginia and Villanova meet, in what many people thought would be the title game last season. Virginia wins.

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MIDWEST FIRST ROUND: North Carolina, Washington, New Mexico State, Kansas, Ohio State, Houston, Wofford and Kentucky.

MIDWEST SECOND ROUND: North Carolina (barely), Kansas (barely), Houston, Kentucky.

MIDWEST SEMIS/FINAL: Patently unfair to North Carolina that they'll have to face Kansas in Kansas City, but the Heels will prevail anyway. They'll face Kentucky. Carolina wins.

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This takes us to the Final Four.

We've got the three No. 1 seeds from the Atlantic Coast Conference and a No. 7 seed in Nevada.

Duke vs. Nevada, go with Duke.

Virginia vs. North Carolina, go with North Carolina.

Voila! Finally, we get our UNC-Duke matchup in the tourney.

We could have saved a whole bunch of space and simply said this: This is the third time that Minneapolis has hosted the Final Four. (1951 doesn't count, since the last four teams went there but only for a title game and a third-place game, not a true Final Four.)

The other years Minneapolis played host to the Final Four were 1992 and 2001.

Duke won in 1992.

Duke won in 2001.

Duke wins again in 2019. Zion Williamson will make sure his one-year mark on college basketball is indelible, and Mike Krzyzewski will get his sixth national championship.

Unless we're wrong, of course.



Story By: Associated Press

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 REGIONAL SPORTS

- (WJFW) - The Wisconsin Badgers will play the Oregon Ducks in San Jose on Friday at 3:30 p.m. CT



(AP) - The Big Ten Conference has doubled its presence in the NCAA Tournament a year after its fewest picks in a decade.

A record eight Big Ten schools were selected for the 68-team field on Sunday, the most for any league. The ACC, which had three of the No. 1 seeds, and the SEC each got seven teams. Six Big 12 schools made the field.


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CHICAGO - CHICAGO (AP) " Once Cassius Winston and Kenny Goins powered Michigan State to a fast start, Wisconsin was in deep trouble.

Tough to chase down the Spartans in March.

Winston scored 21 points and Goins had 13 points and 12 rebounds, helping No. 6 Michigan State beat No. 19 Wisconsin 67-55 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Saturday.

Goins, Aaron Henry and Xavier Tillman led a dominant rebounding effort as the Spartans earned their seventh consecutive win in their series against the Badgers. Tillman finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, and Henry grabbed a career-high 11 boards to power Michigan State to a 44-30 advantage on the glass.


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GREEN BAY - After missing the playoffs in back-to-back years, the Green Bay Packers are spending big in free agency to try to get back the postseason.

The Packers agreed to $183 million worth of contracts Tuesday with edge rusher Za'Darius Smith, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Billy Turner. The signings should improve a defense that ranked 18th in the NFL in 2018 and add some more protection for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Za'Darius Smith is getting the biggest deal: $66 million over four years with $34.5 million in the first two years, according to his agency, SportsTrust Advisors. Smith, 26, led the Baltimore Ravens with 8½ sacks last season " including three in one game against Tennessee " and has 18½ in his 58-game career.

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MADISON - Former Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook says he is transferring to Florida State.

Hornibrook posted a photo of himself with Seminoles coach Willie Taggart on his Instagram account Sunday to announce his plans. Hornibrook is a graduate transfer who will be eligible immediately.

The Seminoles are in need of depth at quarterback. James Blackman, a junior, was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster eligible as spring practice started. Another transfer, Jordan Travis from Louisville, must sit out next season because of NCAA rules but is attempting to get a waiver for immediate eligibility. Last year's starter, Deondre Francois, was dismissed from the team last month.

Hornibrook started 32 games for Wisconsin and threw for 47 touchdowns and 5,438 yards. He missed four games last season with a concussion.

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GREEN BAY, WIS. (AP) -  Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater lined up for a field goal but seemed a little antsy, gesturing with his arms like a quarterback calling for a shotgun snap.

It turns out that was exactly what it was.

Prater's 8-yard pass on a fake field-goal try was a high and a little wobbly, but Levine Toilolo was so wide open in the end zone that it didn't matter.

The Lions' beleaguered season ended on a high note on Sunday, when almost everything went right for Detroit in a 31-0 win over the Green Bay Packers.

"Basically I was trying not to screw it up," Prater said. "It worked out, so it was fun."

Not so much for the Packers (6-9-1), who trailed 21-0 at the half and lost Aaron Rodgers early in the second quarter after to a concussion. The quarterback was sacked and lost his helmet on the second play of the game.


Rodgers played two more series before departing. The offense never got going even when he was behind center.

"Yeah, it was hard. We just didn't have any rhythm," interim head coach Joe Philbin said.

Both teams had long been eliminated from playoff contention. But the Lions (6-10) at least got a little positive push at the end of Matt Patricia's first season as coach.

Matthew Stafford threw for 266 yards and two scores, both to T.J. Jones . Zach Zenner had a 13-yard touchdown run for the Lions, who have won four straight against their NFC North rival for the first time since 1982-83. That was one bright spot for a last-place Detroit team.

"I think those guys fought all year. I think they're tough " mentally and physically tough," Patricia said. "It showed up in the game today."

SHORT ON RECEIVERS

The Lions' passing game clicked despite a depleted receiving corps, with Kenny Golladay missing the relatively meaningless game with a chest injury. The Lions had decisive edges in total yards (261-67) and first downs (16-3) by halftime, with 11 of the first downs coming through the air.

Zenner finished with 93 yards on 21 carries. Stafford was 20 of 32, while rookie Brandon Powell had six catches for 103 yards

"It was an opportunity for them and obviously it was a big stage," Stafford said about working with the young receivers. "Not an easy day to catch the football, wind swirling, cold, Lambeau Field."

FINE FAKE

Prater's touchdown pass gave the Lions a 14-0 lead with 10:36 left in the second quarter.

"Slow delivery, lollipop, but it was on target so that was a plus," Stafford joked when asked about the kicker's throw.

OVER AND OUT

Rodgers walked back to the locker room around the same time his teammates were getting over the shock of Detroit's trick play.

It was unclear exactly when Rodgers got hurt. He was 3 of 5 for 26 yards, not the way he wanted to finish even in a meaningless game.

"I said, 'How long are you playing?' He said, 'I'm going the distance,'" linebacker Clay Matthews said, recounting a pregame talk with Rodgers. "I said, 'All right, I'll be out there with you in the fourth.' But it didn't play out like that."

The Packers were also without receiver Davante Adams, who missed practice this week with a knee injury. Adams finished the season with 111 catches, one shy of tying the single-season franchise record set by Sterling Sharpe in 1993.

Backup DeShone Kizer finished 16 of 35 for 132 yards and an interception, while Jamaal Williams managed just four yards on eight carries.

Green Bay didn't top 100 yards in total offense until the third quarter.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE

There is uncertainty in Titletown following a second straight losing season and the firing of coach Mike McCarthy in early December. Philbin, the offensive coordinator, went 2-2 as interim coach.

When asked when he would interview for a chance to take the job permanently, Philbin deferred any questions to team president Mark Murphy, who is leading the search.

Rodgers and Adams have each voiced support over the past couple weeks for Philbin.

"I was very appreciative of all the things they did all season and in the four weeks that I was leading them," Philbin said in recounting his postgame message. "And that we would get together tomorrow, we're going to have a brief team meeting tomorrow and we'll go from there."

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MILWAUKEE - National television, overtime thriller, century-old rivalry. This year's Marquette-Wisconsin game had it all; an electric atmosphere, a national TV audience and overtime. 

Sam and Joey Hauser, two kids from Stevens Point, were right in the middle of it.

"Just growing up in the state of Wisconsin, everybody's a Badger fan, so me and Sam were really happy to get this win," Joey Hauser said.

Sam and Joey played important roles in Marquette's 74-69 win over the Wisconsin Badgers.

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GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy after 13 seasons in the wake of the team's 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

"The 2018 season has not lived up to the expectations and standards of the Green Bay Packers," said team CEO Mark Murphy in a statement. "As a result, I made the difficult decision to relieve Mike McCarthy of his role as head coach, effective immediately."

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin has been promoted to interim head coach.

McCarthy went 125-77-2 in his time as head coach of the Packers, including a Super Bowl championship in 2010.

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MINNEAPOLIS - Kirk Cousins bounced back from his worst game for Minnesota with 342 passing yards and three touchdowns without a turnover, and the Vikings overcame some early gaffes to outlast the depleted Green Bay Packers for a 24-17 victory on Sunday night.

Completing 29 of his 38 attempts, Cousins found Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen for scores. Sheldon Richardson had two sacks to lead the defense's game-long stifling of Aaron Rodgers, and the Vikings (6-4-1) pushed the Packers (4-6-1) further back in the NFC wild card race.

Rodgers threw a touchdown pass to Davante Adams and Aaron Jones scored on a short run for a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter, but the Packers fell to 0-6 on the road and 1-5-1 against the Vikings in their last seven meetings.

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MINNEAPOLIS - Everyone in Wisconsin got to watch the Packers and Vikings play Sunday night and most of the state will get to watch Green Bay take on Arizona next Sunday.

But nearly 400,000 people in Wisconsin that are serviced by out-of-state television markets may not get that chance.

"We can sit around, wait for the game, plan for the game, and then it doesn't come in. We don't get it," Menomonie resident and Packers fan Justine Rider said.

Minneapolis or Duluth TV stations service 12 western Wisconsin counties.

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GREEN BAY - For a change, it was the Packers in a runaway.

Aaron Jones ran for career highs of 145 yards and two scores, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams connected for two touchdown passes and the Green Bay beat the Miami Dolphins 31-12 on Sunday.

The Packers (4-4-1) pulled away in the second half, sandwiching scoring drives around cornerback Bashaud Breeland's interception deep in Miami territory. Green Bay went ahead 28-12 on Adams' 25-yard touchdown catch with 7:24 left.

"This league has always been about big plays," coach Mike McCarthy said. "You can't score points without big plays and you have to make big plays to win the game."ft in the third quarter.

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