2019 NCAA Tournament East region breakdown: Duke favored to win it all
Does anyone stand a chance against Zion?
With phenom Zion Williamson back on the court, it will be hard for any one of these teams to beat Duke.
But still, they’ll try. Here are the 18 teams seeded in the East region. If they make it past the first weekend, they’ll head to Washington, D.C., to try to earn a spot in the Final Four.
1. Duke Blue Devils
Record: 26-5, 14-4 ACC, 3rd. NET: 3.
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski (43rd season, 1,126-343; 1,053-284 in 39 seasons at Duke, 94-29 NCAA).
Best win: 72-70 vs. Virginia, Jan. 19
Worst loss: 95-91 OT vs. Syracuse, Jan. 14
Three-pointers: 30.6 percent. Free throws: 68.9 percent.
TOP THREE: F R.J. Barrett, 6-7, Fr.: 23.3 ppg., 7.4 rpg., 4.2 apg.; F Zion Williamson, 6-7, Fr.: 21.6 ppg.,8.8 rpg.; F Cam Reddish, 6-8, Fr.: 14.0 ppg.
Williamson missed the last five games of the regular season with a sprained knee, and the Blue Devils hope he returns to his previous form in the postseason. … He is first in the ACC and second in the nation in field goal percentage at 68.3. … Freshman guard Tre Jones averages 5.2 assists, and his 3.73 assist-to-turnover ratio is third in Division I.
16. North Dakota State Bison
Record: 18-15, 9-7 Summit League, tied for 3rd. NET: 222.
Coach: David Richman (fifth season, 95-66, all at North Dakota State, 0-1 NCAA).
Best win: 73-63 vs. Omaha, March 12.
Worst loss: 80-78 vs. Incarnate Word, Nov. 17.
Three-pointers: 36.6 percent. Free throws: 77.4 percent.
TOP THREE: G Vinnie Shahid, 5-11, Jr.: 12.8 ppg., 2.7 apg.; G Tyson Ward, 6-6, Jr.: 12.3 ppg., 6.3 rpg.; F Deng Geu, 6-8, Jr.: 9.9 ppg., 5.0 rpg.
The Bison, whose last NCAA Tournament appearance came in 2015, were 10th in the nation in free-throw shooting. … They won a berth despite being outshot and outrebounded during the season.
16. North Carolina Central Eagles
Record: 18-15, 10-6 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, tied for third. NET: 302
Coach: LaVelle Morton (9th season, 182-112, 0-3 NCAA)
Best win: 98-90 at Howard, Feb. 18
Worst loss: 82-73 at Appalachian State, Dec. 8
Three-pointers: 31.5 percent. Free throws: 71.5 percent
TOP THREE: C Raasean Davis, 6-8, Sr.: 14.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg; G Randy Miller Jr., 6-2, Sr.: 13.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg; G Larry McKnight, 6-2, Sr.: 9.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg
The Eagles clinched their third straight MEAC tournament title after knocking off top-seeded Norfolk State. North Carolina Central overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and held the Spartans to 15 second-half points.
8. VCU Rams
Record: 25-6, 16-2 Atlantic 10, first place. NET: 31.
Coach: Mike Rhoades (fifth season, 90-73, 43-21 in two seasons at VCU, 0-0 NCAA).
Best win: 54-53 at Texas, Dec. 5.
Worst loss:71-65 at Rhode Island, Jan. 23.
Three-pointers: 30.6 percent. Free throws: 69.9 percent.
TOP THREE: G Marcus Evans, 6-2, Jr.: 14.2 ppg., 3.3 apg.; G De’Riante Jenkins, 6-5, Jr.: 11.3 ppg., 3.9 rpg.; F Isaac Vann, 11.0 ppg., 3.6 rpg.
Sophomore forward Marcus Santos-Silva shot a team-best 59 percent from the field in the regular season while averaging 9.5 points. … The Rams were the top defensive team in the A-10, allowing a league-low 61.2 points per game in the regular season.
9. Central Florida Knights
Record: 23-8, 13-5 AAC, third place. NET: 28.
Coach: Johnny Dawkins (11th season, 222-147, 66-32 in third season at UCF, 2-1 NCAA).
Best win: 69-64 at Houston, March 2.
Worst loss: 80-79 vs. Florida Atlantic, Nov. 11.
Three-pointers: 35.6 percent. Free throws: 64.7 percent.
TOP THREE: G B.J. Taylor, 6-2, R-Sr.: 16.2 ppg., 3.3 apg.; G-F Aubrey Dawkins, 6-6, R-Jr.: 15.4 ppg., 5.1 rpg.; C Tacko Fall, 7-6, Sr.: 10.9 ppg., 7.2 rpg. 2.4 bpg.
Aubrey Dawkins, a transfer from Michigan and son of coach Johnny Dawkins, had a career-high 36 points in UCF’s 67-62 loss to Temple in the regular-season finale for both teams. … That loss came after consecutive wins over Houston and Cincinnati. … Taylor was a first-team all-AAC selection, while Dawkins was second and Fall was third. … Starting guard Terrell Allen, who averages a team-high 4.3 assists, began his career at Drexel. … In addition to leading the AAC in blocked shots in the regular season, Fall led in field-goal percentage (.751).
5. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Record: 23-10, 10-8, Southeastern Conference, tied for 4th. NET: 21.
Coach: Ben Howland (23rd season, 476-262; 77-54 in four seasons at Mississippi State, 19-10 NCAA).
Best win: 92-84 vs. Auburn, Jan. 26.
Worst loss: 72-67 vs. Arizona State, Nov. 19.
Three-pointers: 37.6 percent. Free throws: 71.9 percent.
TOP THREE: G Quinndary Weatherspoon, 6-4, Sr.: 18.5 ppg., 4.9 rpg.; G Lamar Peters, 6-0, Jr.: 11.5 ppg., 5.2 apg.; G Tyson Carter, 6-4, Jr.: 10.5 ppg., 2.0 rpg.
The Bulldogs are led by Weatherspoon, who became the first Mississippi State player to earn a spot on the All-SEC first team since 2012. He’s scored 27 points or more five times this season and shoots 40.2 percent on three-pointers.
12. Liberty Flames
Record: 28-6, 14-2 Atlantic Sun, tied for first; won conference tournament. NET: 59.
Coach: Ritchie McKay (17th season, 264-211; 123-82 in six seasons at Liberty, 0-1 NCAA).
Best win: 74-68 vs. Lipscomb, March 10.
Worst loss: 79-70 at Vanderbilt, Nov. 19
Three-pointers: 36.8 percent. Free throws: 77.1 percent.
TOP THREE: G Lovell Cabbil Jr., 6-3, Sr.: 11.5 ppg., 2.7 apg.; G Caleb Homesley, 6-6, Jr.: 12.0 ppg., 5.5 rpg.; F Scottie James, 6-8, R-Jr: 13.1 ppg., 8.8 rpg.
This will be Liberty’s fourth NCAA appearance, with the other three as a member of the Big South. … The Flames go to the bench frequently, with nobody averaging 30 minutes per game, nine players averaging 10 or more minutes. … Liberty has won five in a row and 10 of its last 11. … James had 17 points and eight rebounds in the conference tournament championship game at Lipscomb and was named the ASUN tournament MVP.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies
Record: 24-8, 12-6 ACC, 5th. NET: 11.
Coach: Buzz Williams (12th season, 250-153; 97-67 in five seasons at Virginia Tech, 8-7 NCAA).
Best win: 77-72 vs. Duke, Feb. 26
Worst loss: 63-62 vs. Penn State, Nov. 27
Three-pointers: 39.8 percent. Free throws: 76.2 percent.
TOP THREE: G Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 6-5, So.: 16.6 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 3.9 apg.; F Kerry Blackshear Jr., 6-10, R-Jr.: 14.5 ppg., 7.2 rpg.; G Ahmed Hill, 6-5, R-Sr.: 13.3 ppg.
The Hokies suffered a huge loss when senior guard Justin Robinson suffered a left foot injury in February, missing the last 10 games of the regular season. His status for the NCAA Tournament is questionable. … Tech shot the ball well, ranking seventh in Division I in three-point percentage and 19th from the free-throw line.
13. St. Louis Billikens
Record: 23-12, 10-8 Atlantic 10, tied for sixth, won the A-10 tournament). NET: 103
Coach: Travis Ford (19th season, 330-275, 52-49 in three seasons at St. Louis, 1-6 NCAA).
Best win: 55-53 vs. St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 championship, March 17.
Worst loss: 84-81 vs. Richmond, Jan. 30.
Three-pointers: 30.8 percent. Free throws: 59.8 percent.
TOP THREE: G Javon Bess, 6-6, Sr.: 15.4 ppg., 6.6 rpg.; G Tramaine Isabell, 6-1, Sr.: 13.9 ppg., 4.3 rpg., 3.7 apg.; F Hasahn French, 6-7, So.: 9.4 ppg., 8.4 rpg.
Isabell played last season at Drexel after beginning his career at Missouri and averaged 21.7 ppg. in his lone season with the Dragons. … The Bilikens lost to St. Bonaventure, 66-57, in the final game of the regular season.
6. Maryland Terrapins
Record: 22-10, 13-7 Big Ten, 5th. NET: 26.
Coach: Mark Turgeon (21st season, 429-249; 179-90 in nine years at Maryland, 8-8 NCAA).
Best win: 70-56 vs. Purdue, Feb. 12.
Worst loss: 78-67 vs. Illinois, Jan. 26.
Three-pointers: 35.5 percent. Free throws: 74.5 percent.
TOP THREE: G Anthony Cowan Jr., 6-0, Jr.: 15.9 ppg.; F Bruno Fernando, 6-10, So.: 14.0 ppg., 10.5 rpg.; G Jalen Smith Jr., 6-4, Fr.: 11.5 ppg., 6.7 rpg.
The Terrapins were strong in stopping opponents (39.7 percent field-goal defense) and rebounding (plus-8.8 margin, sixth in Division I). … Fernando flirted with declaring for the NBA draft and put up impressive numbers — 13th in rebounding, 13th in field-goal percentage (62.4), and tied for seventh in double-doubles (20). … Cowan shoots 82.9 percent from the line.
11. Temple Owls
Record: 23-9, 13-5 AAC, third place. NET: 50.
Coach: Fran Dunphy (30th season, 580-323, 270-160 in 13 seasons at Temple, 3-16 NCAA).
Best win: 73-69 vs. Houston, Jan. 9.
Worst loss: 77-70 vs. Penn, Jan. 19.
Three-pointers: 33.0 percent. Free throws: 73.1 percent.
TOP THREE: G Shizz Alston, 6-4, Sr.,: 19.7 ppg., 5.1 apg.; G/F Quinton Rose, 6-8, Jr.: 16.5 ppg., 3.7 rpg.; G Nate Pierre-Louis, 6-4, So.: 13.4 ppg., 5.7 rpg.
The Owls won six of their final seven in the regular season. … Alston was a first-team all-AAC selection, who tied for the scoring lead and led in free throw percentage (90.6 percent).
11. Belmont Bruins
Record: 26-5, 16-2 Ohio Valley Conference, tied for first. NET: 47
Coach: Rick Byrd (20th season, 414-219, 0-7 NCAA)
Best win: 79-66 at Murray State, Jan. 24
Worst loss: 100-92 at Green Bay, Dec. 1
Three-pointers: 37.4 percent. Free throws: 73.8 percent
TOP THREE: G Dylan Windler, 6-8, Sr.: 21.4 ppg, 10.7 rpg; G Kevin McClain, 6-3, Sr.: 16.3 ppg, 4.1 apg; C Nick Muszysnki, 6-11, Fr.: 14.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg
Dylan Windler headlines a high-powered Bruins offense that is ranked second in the country in points per game, averaging 87.4. Belmont had won 14 straight before losing in the OVC title game to Murray State.
3. LSU Tigers
Record: 26-6, 16-2 Southeastern Conference, 1st. NET: 14.
Coach: Will Wade (6th seasons, 135-65; 44-20 in two seasons at LSU, 1-2 NCAA).
Best win: 73-71 vs. Kentucky, Feb. 12.
Worst loss: 90-77 vs. Oklahoma State, Nov. 25.
Three-pointers: 32.3 percent. Free throws: 76.3 percent
TOP THREE: G Tremont Waters, 5-11, So.: 15.3 ppg., 5.9 apg.; G Skylar Mays, 6-4, Jr.: 13.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg.; F Naz Reid, 6-10, Fr.: 13.3, 6.9 rpg.
The Tigers will enter the NCAA Tournament without their second-year coach, Will Wade, who was suspended indefinitely in an ongoing investigation by the FBI into bribery and corruption in college basketball. … Freshman forward Naz Reid will return after missing the regular-season finale against Vanderbilt.
14. Yale Bulldogs
Record: 22-7, 10-4 Ivy, tied for first in regular season, won the Ivy League tournament.) NET: 86.
Coach: James Jones (20th season, 310-272, 1-1 NCAA).
Best win: 97-85 vs. Harvard in the Ivy League championship game March 17.
Worst loss: 83-75 vs. Columbia, March 2.
Three-pointers: 31.2 percent. Free throws: 73.2 percent.
TOP THREE: G Alex Copeland, 6-3, Sr., 13.8 ppg. 2.2 rpg.; G Miye Oni, 6-6, Jr.: 17.6 ppg., 6.3 rpg.; F Jordan Bruner, 6-9, Jr.: 10.2 ppg., 8.3 rpg.
Oni was the Ivy League player of the year and is considered the league’s top pro prospect. … Copeland joined Oni on the all-Ivy first-team. ... The Ivy League title win avenged two regular-season losses to Harvard.
7. Louisville Cardinals
Record: 20-13, 10-8 Atlantic Coast Conference, tied for 6th. NET: 22.
Coach: Chris Mack (10th season, 234-109; 19-12 in one season at Louisville, 11-8 NCAA).
Best win: 83-62 vs. North Carolina, Jan. 12
Worst loss: 89-86 OT vs. Pittsburgh, Jan. 9
Three-pointers: 34.5 percent. Free throws: 77.3 percent.
TOP THREE: F Jordan Nwora, 6-7, So.: 17.3 ppg., 7.7 rpg.; F Dwayne Sutton, 6-5, R-Jr.: 10.3 ppg., 6.9 rpg.; G Christen Cunningham, 10.1 ppg., 4.9 apg.
Mack came to Louisville after nine seasons at Xavier, where he led the Musketeers to a No. 1 seed last season, to try to rebuild the program after it was implicated in an FBI corruption investigation. … Nwora accounted for 71 three-pointers. … Cunningham, one of three graduate transfers brought in, had an assist-turnover ratio of better than 2.4 to 1.
10. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Record: 21-13, 9-11 Big Ten, 7th. NET: 56.
Coach: Richard Pitino (Seventh season, 127-104; 109-90 in six seasons at Minnesota, 0-1 NCAA).
Best win: 73-69 vs. Purdue, March 5.
Worst loss: 68-56 vs. Boston College, Nov. 26.
Three-pointers: 32.4 percent. Free throws: 67.7 percent.
TOP THREE: G Amir Coffey, 6-8, Jr.: 16.0 ppg.; F Jordan Murphy, 6-7, Sr.: 14.5 ppg., 11.7 rpg.; C Daniel Oturu, 6-10, Fr.: 10.8 ppg. 7.2 rpg.
The Golden Gophers sputtered down the stretch but got a big win over Purdue to help their NCAA chances. … Murphy, a 250-pound power forward, excels under the boards, ranking fifth in the nation in rebounding and eighth in offensive rebounds (3.6 per game), and tied for third in double doubles (21). … The team was last in the Big Ten with 5.4 threes per game.
Michigan State Spartans
Record: 28-6, 16-4 Big Ten, tied for 1st. NET: 8.
Coach: Tom Izzo (24th season, 599-23, 48-20 NCAA).
Best win: 77-70 vs. Michigan, Feb. 24.
Worst loss: 79-74 vs. Illinois, Feb. 5.
Three-pointers: 38.1 percent. Free throws: 74.5 percent.
TOP THREE: G Cassius Winston, 6-1, Jr.: 19.0 ppg., 7.6 apg.; F Nick Ward, 6-9, Jr.: 15.1 ppg., 6.7 rpg.; G Matt McQuaid, 6-5, Sr.: 9.3 ppg.
The Spartans played much of the season without junior guard Joshua Langford (foot surgery), one of their top scorers, and for five games late in the season without Ward (fractured left hand). … Winston, who ranks third in the nation in assists, was named Big Ten player of the year. … The Spartans are fourth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (37.6).
15. Bradley Braves
Record: 20-14, 9-9 Missouri Valley, tied for 5th. NET: 176.
Coach: Brian Wardle (ninth season, 153-139; 58-74 in four seasons at Bradley, 0-0 NCAA).
Best win: 59-56 vs. Penn State, Nov. 21.
Worst loss: 73-66 vs. Eastern Illinois, Dec. 15.
Three-pointers: 34.0 percent. Free throws: 69.2 percent.
TOP THREE: G Darrell Brown, 5-10, Jr.: 14.7 ppg., 3.1 apg.; F Elijah Childs, 6-7, So.: 12.2 ppg., 7.8 rpg.; G Nate Kannell, 6-6, Jr.: 9.4 ppg.
The Braves, a No. 5 seed, rallied from an 18-point deficit to win the Missouri Valley Conference title game and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. … Brown connected on 43.9 percent of his three-point attempts, and Kannell shot 40.3 percent; the pair combining for 139 three-point baskets.