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2019 NCAA Tournament Midwest region breakdown: Tough road for North Carolina to make Final Four

The Tar Heels are in the same region as Kentucky, Kansas and Houston.

Roy Williams has coached his team to another 1 seed.
Roy Williams has coached his team to another 1 seed.Read moreNell Redmond / AP

North Carolina, Kentucky, Houston and Kansas -- the top four seeds in the Midwest region -- all have high hopes to advance past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and on to Kansas City.

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of the obstacles they’ll face.

BREAKDOWNS: East region | West region | South region

Get a printable bracket here.

1. North Carolina Tar Heels

Record: 26-5, 16-2 Atlantic Coast Conference, tied for 1st. NET: 7.

Coach: Roy Williams (31st season, 868-232; 450-131 in 16 seasons at North Carolina; 77-25 NCAA).

Best win: 103-90 vs. Gonzaga, Dec. 15

Worst loss: 92-89 vs. Texas, Nov. 22

Three-pointers: 37.3 percent. Free throws: 74.1 percent.

TOP THREE: G Cameron Johnson, 6-9, Gr., 16.9 ppg.; G Coby White, 6-5, Fr., 16.4 ppg., 4.1 apg.; F Luke Maye, 6-8, Sr., 14.9 ppg., 10.3 rpg.


The Tar Heels play at a fast pace, placing third in the nation in scoring with an 86.6-point average, and they outrebound opponents by nearly 10 per game. … Maye posted 13 double-doubles during the regular season. … Johnson has knocked down 83 three-point baskets and shoots 46.9 percent from deep, fourth in the nation.

16. Iona Gaels

Record: 17-15, 12-6 MAAC, 1st in regular season, won conference tournament. NET: 205.

Coach: Tim Cluess (ninth season, 199-107; 0-5 NCAA).

Best win: 81-60 vs. Monmouth in the MAAC title game, March 11.

Worst loss: 99-95 at Niagara, Jan 11.

Three-pointers: 35.1 percent. Free throws: 74.1 percent.

TOP THREE: G Rickey McGill, 6-2, Sr., 15.5 ppg., 4.6 rpg., 5.0 apg.; G-F E.J. Crawford, 6-6, Jr., 17.9 ppg., 5.1 rpg.; F Tajuan Agee, 6-9, Jr., 13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg.


Cluess was named the MAAC coach of the year. … Iona is making its fourth straight NCAA appearance after winning the MAAC title for the fourth consecutive year. … McGill, the MAAC championship MVP, finishes his career as the only student-athlete in conference history to win four MAAC rings. … Agee and Crawford joined McGill on the all-tournament team. … Guard Asante Gist had a game-high 22 points in the championship win.

8. Utah State Aggies

Record: 25-6, 15-3 Mountain West, tied for 1st, NET: 30.

Coach: Craig Smith (Eighth season, 176-90; 25-6 in one season at Utah State; 0-0 NCAA).

Best win: 81-76 vs. Nevada, March 2.

Worst loss: 78-77 vs. Fresno State, Jan. 9

Three-pointers: 35.3 percent. Free throws: 74.7 percent.

TOP THREE: G Sam Merrill, 6-5, Jr., 21.1 ppg., 5.3 apg.; C Neemias Queta, 6-11, Fr., 11.8 ppg., 8.8 rpg.; F Quinn Taylor, 6-8, Sr., 8.3 ppg., 6.2 rpg.


After posting their first 20-win season in six years, the Aggies are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. … Merrill, the Mountain West player of the year, is eighth in the nation in free-throw shooting at 90.4 percent. … Queta, of Portugal, the conference freshman of the year, is 16th in Division I in blocked shots, 2.35 per game.

9. Washington Huskies

Record: 24-7, 15-3 Pac-12, 1st place, NET: 67

Coach: Mike Hopkins (3rd season, 49-25; 45-20 in 2 seasons at Washington; 0-0 NCAA)

Best win: 69-53 at Utah, Jan. 10

Worst loss: 76-73 at Cal, Feb. 28

Three-pointers: 34.7 percent. Free throws: 70.1 percent.

TOP THREE: G Jaylen Nowell, 6-4, So., 16.3 ppg., 5.4 rpg.; F Noah Dickerson, 6-8, Sr., 12.9 ppg., 7.2 rpg.; G David Crisp, 6-0, Sr.: 12.6 ppg., 2.6 apg.


The Huskies have one of the better defenses in the nation, with a defensive rating of 94.9 that ranks 32nd out of 353 teams.

5. Auburn Tigers

Record: 22-9, 11-7 Southeastern Conference, tied for 3rd. NET: 17.

Coach: Bruce Pearl (15 years, 323-170; 92-71 in five seasons at Auburn, 11-9 NCAA).

Best win: 84-80 vs. Tennessee, March 9.

Worst loss: 80-77 vs. South Carolina, Jan. 22.

Three-pointers: 37.5 percent. Free throws: 70.5 percent.

TOP THREE: G Bryce Brown, 6-3, Sr.: 15.7 ppg., 2.0 rpg.; G Jared Harper, 5-11, Jr.: 15.2 ppg., 5.9 apg.; F Chuma Okeke, 6-8, So.: 11.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg.


The Tigers won four straight games to end the regular season, then beat Tennessee for the SEC Tournament title. They’re led by All-SEC second-team guards Brown and Harper.

12. New Mexico State Aggies

Record: 27-4, 15-1 Western Athletic Conference, 1st. NET: 43.

Coach: Chris Jans (Third season, 66-22; 55-10 in two seasons at New Mexico State; 0-1 NCAA).

Best win: 83-78 vs. Utah Valley, Jan. 19.

Worst loss: 82-76 vs. Cal Baptist, Jan. 3.

Three-pointers: 32.8 percent. Free throws: 67.5 percent.

TOP THREE: G Terrell Brown, 6-1, Jr., 11.1 ppg.; F Eli Chuha, 6-7, R-Jr., 10.1 ppg., 6.8 rpg.; F Ivan Aurrecoechea, 6-8, Jr., 9.5 ppg., 5.2 rpg.


The Aggies, who gave Kansas a battle in Lawrence last December before losing, 63-60, enjoyed success with balanced scoring (seven players averaged six points or more) and ferocious rebounding (plus-8.6 margin, fifth in the nation). … Chuha, a junior college transfer, shot 66.2 percent from the field.

4. Kansas Jayhawks

Record: 25-9, 12-6 Big 12, third. NET: 20.

Coach: Bill Self (26th season, 677-209; 470-104 in 16 seasons at Kansas, 47-19 NCAA).

Best win: 87-81 OT vs. Tennessee, Nov. 23.

Worst loss: 65-64 at West Virginia, Jan. 19.

Three-pointers: 35.5 percent. Free throws: 69.5 percent.

TOP THREE: F Dedric Lawson, 6-9, R-Jr.: 19.1 ppg., 10.6 rpg.; G Devon Dotson, 6-2, Fr.: 11.7 ppg., 3.5 apg.; G Marcus Garrett, 6-5, So.: 7.2 ppg., 3.6 rpg.


The Jayhawks had a streak of 14 consecutive Big 12 championships snapped. … Center Udoka Azubuike (13.4 ppg., 6.8 rpg.) suffered a season-ending hand injury in early January. … Starting guard Lagerald Vick (14.1 ppg.), who took a leave of absence to tend to personal matters in February, won’t return this season.

13. Northeastern Huskies

Record: 23-10, 14-4 CAA, 2nd place. NET: 79.

Coach: Bill Coen (13th season, 224-196, 0-1 NCAA).

Best win: 82-74 vs. Hofstra, March 12 in the CAA final.

Worst loss: 75-72, at Towson, Jan. 24.

Three-pointers: 38.8 percent. Free throws: 75.1 percent.

TOP THREE: G Vasa Pusica, 6-5, R-Sr.: 17.8 ppg., 4.2 apg.; G Jordan Roland, 6-1, Jr.: 14.7 ppg., 2.4 rpg.; G Bolden Brace, 6-6, Jr.: 10.0 ppg., 6.0 rpg.


Pusica had 21 points on 7 of 12 three-pointers in the championship game win over Hofstra and was named the CAA tournament MVP. … He began his career at San Diego and has played the last two years for the Huskies. … A first-team all-CAA performer this season, Pusica has played for the Serbian national team. … This will be the Huskies’ second trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last five years.

6. Iowa State Cyclones

Record: 20-11, 9-9 Big 12, fifth. NET: 23.

Coach: Steve Prohm (eighth season, 184-81, 80-52 in four years at ISU, 4-3 NCAA).

Best win: 68-64 at Texas Tech, Jan. 16.

Worst loss: 90-75 at West Virginia, March 6.

Three-pointers: 36.2 percent. Free throws: 72.8 percent.

TOP THREE: G Marial Shayok, 6-6, R-Sr.: 18.7 ppg., 5.1 rpg.; G Lindell Wigginton, 6-2, So.: 13.4 ppg., 4.1 rpg.; G Talen Horton-Tucker, 6-4, Fr.: 12.2 ppg., 5.1 rpg.


Wigginton was named the Big 12 sixth man of the year. … The Cyclones were the Big 12′s highest scoring team in the regular season (77.5 ppg.). … Iowa State led the Big 12 in regular-season field goal percentage (47.7 percent) and free-throw percentage (72.3). … Shayok, a transfer from Virginia, was a first-team all-Big 12 choice.

11. Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 18-13, 8-12 Big Ten, tied for 8th. NET: 55

Coach: Chris Holtmann (Eighth season, 157-107; 43-22 in two seasons at Ohio State, 5-4 NCAA).

Best win: 64-56 vs. Cincinnati, Nov. 7.

Worst loss: 63-56 vs. Illinois, Feb. 14.

Three-pointers: 33.8 percent. Free throws: 73.1 percent.

TOP THREE: F Kaleb Wesson, 6-9, So.: 14.6 ppg., 6.7 rpg.; G C.J. Jackson, 6-1, Sr.: 12.1 ppg.; F Andre Wesson, 6-6, Jr., 8.5 ppg.


The Buckeyes lost their last three regular-season games, all without Kaleb Wesson, who was suspended for a violation of athletic department policy. Wesson returned for the Big Ten Tournament. … Ohio State won 13 of its first 14 games and was ranked for eight weeks but lost five straight after that.

3. Houston Cougars

Record: 29-2, 16-2 AAC (first place). NET: 4.

Coach: Kelvin Sampson (26th season, 537-277, 112-50 in five seasons at Houston, 13-15 NCAA).

Best win: 85-69 at Cincinnati, March 10.

Worst loss: 73-69 at Temple, Jan. 9.

Three-pointers: 36.4 percent. Free throws: 71.1 percent.

TOP THREE: G Corey Davis Jr., 6-1, Sr.: 16.6 ppg., 2.9 apg.; G Armoni Brooks, 6-3, Jr.: 13.7 ppg., 6.5 rpg.; G DeJon Jarreau, 6-5, R-So.: 9.2 ppg., 3.8 rpg.


Houston doesn’t have much size, and is a guard-oriented unit that led the AAC in three-point percentage (.364) and also in rebounding margin (+7.9) in the regular season and scoring defense (61.6 ppg.) in the regular season … Sampson was named AAC coach of the year and Jarreau was the sixth man of the year.

14. Georgia State Panthers

Record: 23-9, 13-5 Sun Belt, 1st place. NET: 121

Coach: Ron Hunter (21st season, 391-273; 170-94 in 8 seasons at Georgia State, 1-3 NCAA)

Best win: 83-80 at Alabama, Dec. 4.

Worst loss: 77-75 at Troy, Jan. 19.

Three-pointers: 38.8 percent. Free throws: 65.9 percent.

TOP THREE: G D’Marcus Simonds, 6-3, Jr.: 18.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg.; G Devin Mitchell, 6-4, Sr.: 12.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg.; F Malik Benlevi, 6-6, Sr.: 11.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg.


The Panthers have five players who average double-figure points.

7. Wofford Terriers

Record: 29-4, 18-0 Southern Conference, 1st, NET: 13.

Coach: Mike Young (17th season, 298-243; 0-4 NCAA).

Best win: 72-64 vs. Furman, Feb. 23.

Worst loss: 75-64 vs. Oklahoma, Nov. 18.

Three-pointers: 42.0 percent. Free throws: 70.2 percent.

TOP THREE: G Fletcher Magee, 6-4, Sr.: 20.4 ppg.; F Cameron Jackson, 6-8, Sr.: 14.4 ppg., 7.5 rpg.; G Nathan Hoover, 6-4, Jr.: 13.2 ppg.


Wofford, a private school with an enrollment of just over 1,500, was one of two teams in the nation to go through its conference regular season undefeated. … The Terriers were second in the nation in three-point shooting, with Hoover ninth at 45.2 percent. … Magee led the country with a 4.58 average on made threes and hit 91 percent from the foul line.

10. Seton Hall Pirates

Record: 18-12, 9-9 Big East, tied for 3rd, NET: 62.

Coach: Kevin Willard (12th season, 213-175; 168-126 in nine seasons at Seton Hall, 1-3 NCAA).

Best win: 84-83 vs. Kentucky, Dec. 8.

Worst loss: 66-64 vs. St. Louis, Nov. 17.

Three-pointers: 32.5 percent. Free throws: 71.5 percent.

TOP THREE: G Myles Powell, 6-2, Jr., 22.6 ppg.; G Myles Cale, 6-6, So., 10.4 ppg.; G Quincy McKnight, 6-4, Jr., 9.4 ppg., 4.1 apg.


The Pirates picked up clutch early-season victories over Kentucky and Maryland, and finished the year with back-to-back wins over Marquette and Villanova to seal their NCAA spot. … Powell emerged as one of the country’s best guards, draining 90 three-point baskets and finishing 14th in Division I in scoring.

2. Kentucky Wildcats

Record: 26-5, 15-3 Southeastern Conference, 2nd place. NET: 5

Coach: John Calipari (27th season 746-209; 301-69 in 10 seasons at Kentucky, 44-16 NCAA).

Best win: 86-69 vs. Tennessee, Feb. 16

Worst loss: 84-83 vs. Seton Hall (OT), Dec. 8

Three-pointers: 35.9 percent. Free throws: 74.3 percent

TOP THREE: F PJ Washington, 6-8, So.: 14.9 ppg., 7.5 rpg.; G Tyler Herro, 6-5, Fr.: 14.2 ppg., 4.5 rpg.; G Keldon Johnson, 6-6, Fr.: 13.7 ppg., 5.8 rpg.


The Wildcats won six of their last seven games to end the regular season and enter the conference tournament. Two of those six victories were Quadrant 1 wins.

16. Abilene Christian Wildcats

Record: 27-6, 14-4, second place Southland Conference, won conference tournament. NET: 155.

Coach: Joe Golding (sixth season, 90-97, 0-0 NCAA).

Best win: 77-60 vs. New Orleans in the Southland Conference tournament final, March 16.

Worst loss: 61-60 at Stephen F. Austin, Jan. 23.

Three-pointers: 38.7 percent. Free throws: 71.7 percent.

TOP THREE: F Jaren Lewis, 6-6, Sr.: 13.7 ppg., 6.2 rpg.; G Payten Ricks, 6-2, Jr.: 11.7 ppg., 2.8 rpg.; G Jaylen Franklin, 6-2, Sr.: 10.2 ppg., 4.9 apg.


This will be the Wildcats first NCAA appearance since moving up to the Division I level beginning in the 2013-2014 season. … On Feb. 21, the Wildcats dismissed junior center Jalone Friday (13.1 ppg.) and junior guard B.J. Maxwell (9.2 ppg.) from the team for “violating university policies.”

See more NCAA Tournament coverage here.