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March Madness 2019

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March Madness 2019: Meet the Field

Ja Morant and the Murray State Racers have their eyes set on March Madness glory. (Credit: Ohio Valley Conference)

March Madness 2019: Meet the Field

With the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on the doorstep, it’s time to get those brackets finished up! You may think you have a perfect bracket, but how well do you really know the tournament field?

Read on for a region-by-region look at all of the teams including record, number of NCAA Tournament appearances, championships won historically, and helpful knowledge nuggets about this year’s squad. Use this knowledge to help you win your March Madness pool, or to win money at whichever online sportsbook you choose.

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Zion March Madness

East Region

1 Duke Blue Devils (29-5)

43rd Appearance

5 Championships

There’s NBA-level talent all over the team, in Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish. They’re a legit overall number one and have earned the right to be the betting favorites.

2 Michigan State Spartans (28-6)

33rd Appearance

2 Championships

Cassius Winston is one of the top players in the country. Injuries to key contributors haven’t slowed them down.

3 LSU Tigers (26-6)

22nd Appearance

Javonte Smart, Tremont Waters, and Naz Reid represent the core of a loaded roster. Suspension of head coach Will Wade in FBI pay-for-play case must be overcome.

4 Virginia Tech Hokies (24-8)

11th Appearance

They rank in the top-10 in team three-point shooting. Kerry Blackshear and Nickeil Alexander-Walker lead the way.

5 Mississippi St. Bulldogs (23-10)

11th Appearance

Quinndary Weatherspoon has the talent to be the latest to enter the lore of great March guard play, but the team must reduce turnovers to be successful.

6 Maryland Terrapins (22-10)

27th Appearance

1 Championship

Stumbling in after a loss to Nebraska in the Big 10 Tournament, Anthony Cowan Jr. is a bright spot but the Terps are hard to trust.

7 Louisville Cardinals (20-13)

39th Appearance

2 Championships

The Cardinals rank in the top-20 defensively but offense has been wildly inconsistent all season. Jordan Nwora is the star, but how far can he carry them?

8 VCU Rams (25-7)

17th appearance

Success predicated on playing well as a team. Pack line defense and four players averaging in double figures scoring.

9 UCF Knights (23-8)

5th Appearance

Big man Tacko Fall is a force to be reckon with. Offense is the major point fo question for the Knights.

10 Minnesota Golden Gophers (21-13)

10th Appearance

Gophers come in playing well, having knocked off Purdue twice down the stretch. Amir Coffey is the straw that stirs the drink.

11 Belmont Bruins (27-5)

8th Appearance

Bruins are loaded with sharpshooters to space the floor. Win over Temple in the First Four was Rick Byrd’s first NCAA Tournament win in 33 years of coaching.

12 Liberty Flames (28-6)

4th Appearance

Liberty’s fourth tournament appearance but first representing the Atlantic Sun. Win over UCLA essentially got Steve Alford fired.

13 Saint Louis Billikens (23-12)

10th Appearance

SLU comes in hot after winning the A10 Tournament. With Michigan St. transfer Javon Bess leading the way, don’t count out this defensive-minded team.

14 Yale Bulldogs (22-7)

5th Appearance

Miye Oni leads the way with over 17 points per game. Yale will need to shoot and scrap their way to success against superior athleticism.

15 Bradley Braves (20-14)

9th Appearance

The Braves spoiled the 2019 run for Sister Jean and Loyola (Chicago) before it even began. Knockdown shooting from outside will be critical.

16 North Dakota State Bison (19-15)

4th Appearance

The Bison controlled their matchups in the Summit League Tournament and picked up a First Four win over North Carolina Central.

Virginia Basketball
Credit: Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

South Region

1 Virginia Cavaliers (29-3)

23rd Appearance

They still play at a snail’s pace and the cast is much the same as the 1-seed who lost to 16 UMBC last year. Highly unlikely that happens again.

2 Tennessee Volunteers (29-5)

22nd Appearance

The Volunteers are balanced and deep. Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield have NBA potential.

3 Purdue Boilermakers (23-9)

30th Appearance

The Boilermakers are young, but they have a capable leader in Carsen Edwards. If he struggles though, so will Purdue.

4 Kansas State Wildcats (25-8)

31st Appearance

A year after reaching the Elite Eight almost entirely without Dean Wade, KSU may be without their senior forward again. His health looms large.

5 Wisconsin Badgers (23-10)

24th Appearance

1 Championship

Wisconsin will only go as far as Ethan Happ takes them unless someone comes out of nowhere to be a consistent second scoring option.

6 Villanova Wildcats (25-9)

38th Appearance

3 Championships

The Wildcats don’t have the talent of last year’s national championship team, but Phil Booth and Eric Paschall are by no means push-overs.

7 Cincinnati Bearcats (28-6)

33rd Appearance

2 Championships

The 7-line seems a little low after the Bearcats beat Houston to win the American Tournament. The defense is stifling and Jarron Cumberland leads a balanced attack.

8 Ole Miss Rebels (20-12)

9th Appearance

Rebels are undefeated against the SEC tournament champions Auburn. The play of guard Breein Tyree will make or break their March success.

9 Oklahoma Sooners (19-13)

32nd Appearance

Offense isn’t intimidating. Resume includes several wins over tourney teams, but 9-seed seems high after one-and-done Big 12 Tournament showing.

10 Iowa Hawkeyes (22-11)

26th Appearance

A struggling defense contributed to Iowa’s stumbles down the stretch. They’ve proven they can beat elite teams, but can they make stops in March?

11 St. Mary’s Gaels (22-11)

10th Appearance

The Gaels paved their way in by beating Gonzaga in the West Coast title game. An explosive offense is led by Jordan Ford’s 21.3 points per game.

12 Oregon Ducks (23-12)

17th Appearance

1 Championship

Oregon enters the Dance on an 8-game winning streak. Payton Pritchard and Louis King can provide the great guard play needed in March.

13 UC Irvine Anteaters (30-5)

2nd Appearance

The Anteaters were far and away the best team in the Big West. Can their stout defensive play hold up against a team with more size and athleticism?

14 Old Dominion Monarchs (26-8)

13th Appearance

Inefficient offensively but good enough to frustrate an opponent defensively. Conference USA has made some hay in March of late.

15 Colgate Raiders (24-10)

3rd Appearance

Set a school record for wins and are in the Big Dance for the first time since 1996. Top 20 in 3-point shooting.

16 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs (23-11)

1st Appearance

It was an underwhelming Big South conference season until the tournament. The Runnin’ Bulldogs also scored nonconference wins over Wake Forest and Georgia Tech.

Coby White UNC
Credit: Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports

Midwest Region

1 North Carolina Tar Heels (27-6)

50th Appearance

6 Championships

Luke Maye. Coby White. Nassir Little. Cameron Johnson. The  mix of skillsets and talent goes on and on. As the only team to beat the overall No. 1 Blue Devils twice, UNC is scary.

2 Kentucky Wildcats (27-6)

58th Appearance

8 Championships

John Calipari’s squad is once again young but also supremely talented. They beat Carolina earlier in the year so there is no reason they can’t conquer the region.

3 Houston Cougars (31-3)

21st Appearance

The Cougars proved in the nonconference schedule that they can beat anyone, racking up wins over LSU, Oregon and Utah St. Corey Davis Jr. is a threat to go off any night.

4 Kansas Jayhawks (25-9)

48th Appearance

3 Championships

Jayhawks fans have every right to wonder what could have been if they hadn’t los Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick for the season. It will be tough sledding for this Bill Self team.

5 Auburn Tigers (26-9)

10th Appearance

Auburn comes soaring in fresh off an SEC Tournament championship. The Tigers shoot the three well and force a ton of turnovers. Get ready for some fast-paced action.

6 Iowa State Cyclones (23-11)

20th Appearance

The Cyclones might be a bit under-seeded after running to a Big 12 Tournament title in Kansas City. ISU only plays seven for significant minutes, four of which average in double figures scoring.

7 Wofford Terriers (29-4)

5th Appearance

An undefeated regular season in conference? Check. A SOCON Tournament championship? Check. Oh, and they’ve won 20 straight games coming in. Watch out for Wofford!

8 Utah State Aggies (28-6)

21st appearance

If you like to watch good team basketball, the Aggies are for you. Sam Merrill leads the way for the Mountain West Tournament champions with 21.2 points per game.

9 Washington Huskies (26-8)

17th Appearance

The Huskies were the regular season Pac-12 champs. The question is just how much does that mean in this, the year of the terrible Pac-12? They’ll need to use defense to key any tourney run.

10 Seton Hall Pirates (20-13)

13th Appearance

Myles Powell can get a bucket whenever needed. Seton Hall seems to be able to beat all the top teams on their schedule (Kentucky, Marquette, Villanova) but did have several losses in Big East play.

11 Ohio State Buckeyes (19-14)

29th Appearance

1 Championship

It’s hard to envision this inconsistent club getting real far. Kaleb Wesson is a key component to making anything happen.

12 New Mexico State Aggies (30-4)

22nd Appearance

There are no elite scorers, but the Aggies boast one of the most efficient offenses in the country. They dominated both the WAC regular season and tournament.

13 Northeastern Huskies (23-10)

9th Appearance

The big win for the Huskies to date was a 16-point thumping of Alabama. They ride a 7-game winning streak into the Big Dance where they will need to knock down their 3’s in a big way.

14 Georgia State Panthers (24-9)

5th Appearance

3-ppoint shooting is the name of the game for the Panthers. If D’Marcus Simonds has a monster game, GSU may have an upset in them.

15 Abilene Christian Wildcats (27-6)

1st Appearance

The first NCAA Tournament appearance for the Wildcats comes in their 6th season playing at the Division I level. A First Round matchup of Wildcats with Kentucky is likely all she wrote for ACU.

16 Iona Gaels (17-15)

14th Appearance

Iona has been in the Big Dance a lot lately, and this version of the Gaels likes to play fast and shoot 3’s. Their accuracy from beyond the arc unfortunately doesn’t align with the number of treys they shoot.

Gonzaga basketball
Credit: Sporting News

West Region

1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-3)

22nd Appearance

You should be safe to view the dud performance in the WCC title game loss to St. Mary’s as an anomaly considering this offense was one of the most efficient in the nation all season.

2 Michigan Wolverines (28-6)

25th Appearance

1 Championship

Last year’s runner-up, the Wolverines have all the pieces in place to make hay in March once again. The combination of Ignas Brazdeikis, Charles Matthews, and Jordan Poole will spearhead John Beilein’s offense.

3 Texas Tech Red Raiders (26-6)

16th Appearance

Despite a questionable loss to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament, TTU has put together an impressive body of work. Jarrett Culver alone makes them dangerous.

4 Florida State Seminoles (27-7)

17th Appearance

FSU has proven capable of achieving postseason success. A group of long, lanky players translates into a stifling interior defense.

5 Marquette Golden Eagles (24-9)

33rd Appearance

1 Championship

Markus Howard is a pure scorer and a game changer. Add in the 3-point shooting of Sam and Joey Hauser and Marquette looks built for tournament success. Cut down the turnovers and big moves could be in store.

6 Buffalo Bulls (31-3)

4th Appearance

A 30-win season and a MAC Tournament title has Buffalo on the 6-line, much higher than the norm for MAC teams. CJ Massinburg leads the way, but can the Bulls play enough defense to be a legit contender?

7 Nevada Wolfpack (29-4)

9th Appearance

A porous defense and injuries hurt last year’s Sweet Sixteen Wolfpack squad. The defense much improved, but Jordan’s Caroline’s Achilles status could be critical to the team’s chances in March.

8 Syracuse Orange (20-13)

40th Appearance

1 Championship

So long as Jim Boeheim is deploying his 2-3 zone, the Orange will remain a tricky matchup to prepare for in March. Tyus Battle leads the offense with over 17 points per game.

9 Baylor Bears (19-13)

12th Appearance

The Bears were battling juries all season long, yet still have been able to string together results. Makai Mason and King McClure are guards that any team would desire come tournament time.

10 Florida Gators (19-15)

20th Appearance

2 Championships

Florida is without a doubt the strongest of all the 10-seeds in this year’s field. KeVaughn Allen leads the charge for a team playing some of its best ball down the stretch.

11 Arizona State Sun Devils (23-10)

15th Appearance

A First Four win over St. John’s earned Bobby Hurley a date against his former Buffalo team. Lugent Dortz averages over 16 points per game.

12 Murray State Racers (27-4)

17th Appearance

It’s not very often that a 12-seed has one of the three best players in the entire NCAA Tournament field, but that is the case with NBA talent Ja Morant. He is averaging a double-double, led the Racers to the Ohio Valley Tournament title, and cannot be taken lightly.

13 Vermont Catamounts (27-6)

7th Appearance

Vermont will look to put the America East back on the map a year after UMBC’s historic 16-over-1 upset. Anthony Lamb is a talented scorer, averaging over 21 points per game.

14 Northern Kentucky Norse (26-8)

2nd Appearance

The Norse claimed the Horizon League Tournament title but will need to shoot the lights out from 3-point land to pull a March upset.

15 Montana Grizzlies (26-8)

12th Appearance

The Griz claimed the Big Sky Tournament championship despite being without leading scorer Jamar Akoh. March Madness is not the Big Sky.

16 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (21-13)

6th Appearance

After notching the first NCAA Tournament win in school history over Prairie View A&M in the First Four, FDU will get their shot in the main bracket. Jahlil Jenkins sure is fun to watch when he gets hot.

 

 

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