Why are your coworkers yelling about brackets? Well, for those who want to join in on the “madness,” here’s your full-court explanation on getting in on the action.
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USA TODAY Sports breaks down the NCAA Midwest Regional.
Best first-round matchup: Wofford-Seton Hall. The selection committee rewarded No. 7 Wofford for a terrific season with a very nice seed. Now, can the Terriers capitalize against a more athletic first-round opponent? Wofford is fueled by 3-pointers – they rank No. 2 nationally, hitting 41.6 percent – which make the Terriers extremely dangerous. Meanwhile, led by Myles Powell, Seton Hall has been erratic, which is why it fell onto the bubble in the final weeks. But the Pirates beat Kentucky and went 3-1 against Big East rivals Marquette and Villanova. Key for the Pirates could be getting help for Powell.
Potential upset: It’s never a bad idea to pick a No. 12 to beat a 5, and New Mexico State fits the bill as a dangerous No. 12. The Aggies, who won the WAC’s regular-season and tournament championships, have won 19 consecutive games; they do it with defense and rebounding and a big dose of 3-pointers. Although Trevelyn Queen scored 27 points in the WAC Tournament final against Grand Canyon, no player averages as many as 12 points. Included on their resume is a near upset of Kansas. After a midseason swoon, Auburn got hot late and played very well in winning the SEC Tournament – a 20-point victory against Tennessee in the final – and led by Jared Harper, they force turnovers and score in transition. But the Tigers’ reliance on the 3-pointer can be problematic. This could come down to which team is hot from deep.
The sleeper: Iowa State is as hard to decipher as any team in the country. The Cyclones are very talented – with a bevy of potent scorers led by guard Marial Shayok, they might be the Big 12 team with the highest ceiling – but their defense rarely matched the offense. They lost six of their last eight regular-season games, but then won the Big 12 Tournament. For a glimpse of what’s possible, look no further than the way Iowa State dominated Kansas in the championship game. If the Cyclones can replicate that performance, they could play deep into the bracket.
The winner: North Carolina. It’s tempting to take Kentucky, which morphed (like so many of John Calipari’s teams) into something very formidable by the end of the season. But the Tar Heels were this close to beating Duke three times – the last time, in the ACC tournament, with Duke at full strength, Zion Williamson in full effect. North Carolina prefers a fast pace, and with freshman guard Coby White as the catalyst, has the athletes to run away from most opponents. But the Heels can slow down, play physical and win that way, too. No one would be surprised if North Carolina won the national championship — or at least met Duke again, this time for the ultimate prize.
NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET: See all 68 March Madness teams
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SELECTION SUNDAY SNUBS: Biggest teams left out of NCAA tournament
1. North Carolina
Nickname: Tar Heels. Location: Chapel Hill.
Record: 27-6, 16-2. Bid: ACC at-large.
Last appearance: 2018, lost to Texas A&M in second round.
Coach: Roy Williams (77-25 in 28 appearances).
Overview: Unaccustomed to second-round departures, the Tar Heels figure to have a lengthier stay this time. They have depth and athleticism at every position, enabling them to maintain their preferred frenetic pace for 40 minutes with fresh legs. You’ll know things are going their way if most of their points are coming from layups and dunks. Perimeter shooting can be spotty.
Projected starters: G Cameron Johnson, 6-9, Sr. (16.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 51.1 FG% 46.9 3FG%); G Coby White, 6-5, Fr. (16.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.1 apg, 81.4 FT%); F Luke Maye, 6-8, Sr. (14.6 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.5 apg); G Kenny Williams, 6-4, Sr. (8.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.6 apg); F Garrison Brooks, 6-9, So. (8.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 56.6 FG%)
Nickname: Wildcats. Location: Lexington.
Record: 27-6, 15-3. Bid: SEC at-large.
Last appearance: 2018, lost to Kansas State in Sweet 16.
Coach: John Calipari (53-18 in 19 appearances).
Overview: After being blown out by Duke in the season opener, they rebounded well to make their typical late-season charge. Their winning formula starts with a plethora of size that helps dominate opponents on the backboard. The size also allows them to take high-percentage shots and force teams to stay out of the interior. The lack of consistent three-point shooting will be a challenge.
Projected starters: F PJ Washington, 6-8, So. (14.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 51.5 FG%, 41.9 3FG%); G Tyler Herro, 6-5, Fr. (14.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 94.0 FT%); G Keldon Johnson, 6-6, Fr. (13.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg); F Reid Travis, 6-8, Sr. (11.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg) G Ashton Hagans, 6-3, Fr. (7.7 ppg, 4.2 apg).
Nickname: Cougars. Location: Houston.
Record: 31-3, 16-2. Bid: American Athletic at-large.
Last appearance: 2018, lost to Michigan in second round.
Coach: Kelvin Sampson (13-14 in 14 appearances).
Overview: A defense that ranks among the best in the country. An offense powerful enough to score 80 or more points 10 times during the regular season. A veteran and tested roster led by an experienced head coach. Houston is a team very capable of making a run deep into March. One asset that could be a major factor in the tournament: Houston is strong from deep (54th nationally in makes behind the arc during the regular season) and superb at defending the 3-point line.
Projected starters: G Corey Davis Jr., 6-1, Sr. (16.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.9 apg, 43.1 FG%, 38.5 3FG%); G Armoni Brooks, 6-3, Jr. (13.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 40.6 FG%, 40.1 3FG%); G Galen Robinson Jr., 6-1, Sr. (8.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 43.6 FG%); F Breaon Brady, 6-8, Sr. (6.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 60.0 FG%); F Fabian White Jr., 6-7, So. (6.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 45.6 FG%).
Nickname: Jayhawks. Location: Lawrence.
Record: 25-9, 12-6. Bid: Big 12 at-large.
Last appearance: 2018, lost to Villanova in Final Four.
Coach: Bill Self (47-19 in 20 appearances).
Overview: It’s been a weird season for Kansas, which saw its run of 14 consecutive Big 12 regular-season championships snapped amid injuries and attrition. The Jayhawks retooled with a lineup filled with four freshmen. Dedric Lawson, the fourth-year junior forward (a transfer from Memphis), has been Kansas’ catalyst as a double-double machine. Freshman point guard Devon Dotson has been a steadying force. The Jayhawks were 19-1 at home, but only 6-8 in road or neutral-site games.
Projected starters: G Devon Dotson, 6-2, Fr. (11.7 ppg, 3.5 apg); G Quentin Grimes, 6-5, Fr. (7.8 ppg, 1.9 apg); G Ochai Agbaji, 6-5, Fr. (9.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg); F Dedric Lawson, 6-9, Jr. (19.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 49.1 FG%); F David McCormack, 6-10, Fr. (3.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg).
Nickname: Tigers. Location: Auburn, Ala.
Record: 26-9, 11-7. Bid: SEC champ.
Last appearance: 2018, lost to Clemson in second round.
Coach: Bruce Pearl (11-9 in nine appearances).
Overview: The Tigers got off a fast start and were in the top 10 before Christmas. Then things went sideways as they split their next 14 games. A fast finish, including a run to the SEC tournament title, has them peaking at the right time. Auburn’s game is to shoot a lot of threes and live with the results. When those fall, the Tigers are dangerous. If they don’t fall, there could be an early exit.
Projected starters: G Bryce Brown, 6-3, Sr. (15.7 ppg, 40.2 3FG%, 80.9 FT%); G Jared Harper, 5-11, Jr. (15.4 ppg, 5.9 apg, 81.6 FT%); F Chuma Okeke, 6-8, So. (11.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.6 spg, 50.2 FG%); F Anfernee McLemore, 6-7, Jr. (6.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg) G/F Malik Dunbar, 6-6, Sr. (6.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg).
6. Iowa State
Nickame: Cyclones. Location: Ames.
Record: 23-11, 9-9. Bid: Big 12 champ.
Last appearance: 2017, lost to Purdue in second round.
Coach: Steve Prohm (4-3 in three appearances).
Overview: The Cyclones, who rotate interchangeable parts in a four-guard lineup, can fill it up offensively, averaging almost 78 points with the potential to heat up and run away from opponents – as shown in winning the Big 12 tournament. Their issue is stopping opponents from doing the same; defensively, they’ve been inconsistent at best; while losing six of eight to end the regular season, Iowa State allowed opponents to average 82.7 points in the losses. Senior guard Marial Shayok, an all-Big 12 performer, shoots at a nearly 50 percent clip and 39.6 percent on three-pointers. Sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton provides significant scoring punch off the bench (13.4 ppg).
Projected starters: G Nick Weiler-Babb, 6-5, Sr. (9.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.0 apg); G Talen Horton-Tucker, 6-4, Fr. (12.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.6 apg); G Tyrese Haliburton, 6-5, Fr. (6.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.8 apg; G Marial Shayok, 6-6, Sr. (18.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.0 apg); F Michael Jacobson, 6-9, Jr. (11.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
Nickname: Terriers. Location: Spartanburg, S.C.
Record: 29-4, 18-0. Bid: Southern champ.
Last appearance: 2015, lost to Arkansas in first round.
Coach: Mike Young (0-4 in four appearances).
Overview: This isn’t your ordinary Southern Conference team. The Terriers were perfect in league play and ran through the conference tournament. Each loss was to a Power Five school that made the NCAAs. Wofford lives and dies off the three-point shot, making 41.6% of its attempts, second in the nation. Wofford can surprise if it can stay hot.
Projected starters: G Fletcher Magee, 6-4, Sr. (20.5 ppg, 42.8 3FG%, 90.7 FT%); F Cameron Jackson, 6-8, Sr. (14.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.5 spg, 58.1 FG%); G Nathan Hoover, 6-4, Jr. (13.2 ppg, 45.7 3FG%, 89.6 FT%); G Storm Murray, 5-11, So. (7.8 ppg, 3.1 apg, 51.1 FG%, 48.5 3FG%, 84.4 FT%); F Keve Aluma, 6-9, So. (6.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 67.2 FG%).
8. Utah State
Nickname: Aggies. Location: Logan.
Record: 28-6, 15-3. Bid: Mountain West champ.
Last appearance: 2011, lost to Kansas State in first round.
Coach: Craig Smith (first NCAA appearance).
Overview: In his first year, Smith set the bar pretty high. The renewed energy and enthusiasm he brought is self-evident even without the results on the court. The combination of veterans like Sam Merrill and the rapid development of newcomers like Neemias Queta helped the Aggies turnaround last season’s 8-10 league record.
Projected starters: G Sam Merrill, 6-5, Jr. (21.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.2 apg, 90.6 FT%); C Neemias Queta, 6-11, Fr. (11.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 54.3 FT%); F Quinn Taylor, 6-8, Sr. (8.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 51.3 FG%); G Brock Miller, 6-6, Fr. (8.0 ppg); G Abel Porter, 6-3, So. (4.9 ppg, 2.7 apg).
Nickname: Huskies. Location: Seattle.
Record: 26-8, 15-3. Bid: Pac-12 at-large.
Last appearance: 2011, lost to North Carolina in second round.
Coach: Mike Hopkins (first appearance).
Overview: The Huskies ran away with the Pac-12 regular-season title behind the play of Pac-12 player of the year Jaylen Nowell and defensive player of the year Matisse Thybulle. Washington was dominant while playing a 2-3 zone (imported by second-year coach Mike Hopkins, a longtime Syracuse assistant) that is difficult to prepare for. Opponents averaged just 64 points; Washington ranks No. 2 nationally in blocks (5.9) and 10th in steals (8.9). But the Huskies’ offense sometimes disappears.
Projected starters: G Jaylen Nowell, 6-4, So. (16.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 44.1 3FG%, 3.2 apg); G Matisse Thybulle, 6-5, Sr. (9.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.5 spg; 2.3 bpg); G David Crisp, 6-0, Sr. (12.6 ppg, 2.7 apg); F Noah Dickerson, 6-8, Sr. (12.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 56.0 FG%); F Hameir Wright, 6-9, So. (2.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg).
10. Seton Hall
Nickname: Pirates. Location: South Orange, N.J.
Record: 20-13, 9-9. Bid: Big East at-large.
Last appearance: 2018, lost to Kansas in second round.
Coach: Kevin Willard (1-3 in three appearances).
Overview: After losing three consecutive games to fall squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble, the Pirates played themselves into the field with back-to-back wins over Big East kingpins Marquette and Villanova and then a run to the tournament title game. Myles Powell is a dynamic player with takeover abilities, scoring 30 points or more eight different times this season. Making sure Seton Hall has a second scoring option will be key for advancement in the NCAAs, and that’s usually backcourt partner Myles Cale.
Projected starters: G Myles Powell, 6-2, Jr. (22.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 84.6 FT%); G/F Myles Cale, 6-6, So. (10.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg); G Quincy McKnight, 6-4, Jr. (9.4 ppg, 4.1 apg, 1.6 spg); F Sandro Mamukelashvili, 6-10, So. (8.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg); F Michael Nzei, 6-8, Sr. (9.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 60.4 FG%).
11. Ohio State
Nickname: Buckeyes. Location: Columbus.
Record: 19-14, 8-12. Bid: Big Ten at-large.
Last appearance: 2018, lost in second round to Gonzaga.
Coach: Chris Holtmann (5-4 in four appearances).
Overview: The Buckeyes lost three consecutive games to close out the regular-season — all without forward Kaleb Wesson. His return in the Big Ten tournament was significant. He creates space for guards and is a dynamic scorer on the low block who can also corral rebounds and block shots. Holtmann shuffles his lineup quite a bit and gets varying contributions from his bench.
Projected starters: G Keyshawn Woods, 6-3, Sr. (7.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 80.5 FT%); G C.J. Jackson, 6-1, Sr. (12.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.4 apg, 38.9 3FG%); G Musa Jallow, 6-5, So. (2.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg); F Kaleb Wesson, 6-9, So. (14.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg. 50.2 FG%); F Andre Wesson, 6-6, Jr. (8.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg).
12, New Mexico State
Nickname: Aggies. Location: Las Cruces.
Record: 30-4, 15-1. Bid: Western Athletic champ.
Last appearance: 2018, lost to Clemson in first round.
Coach: Chris Jans, (0-1 in one appearance).
Overview: Two years under Chris Jans, two NCAA tournament appearances. New Mexico State – which nearly knocked off Kanas early in the season – continued its recent dominance of the WAC behind a stingy defense (64.4 points a game, 28th in the nation) that absolutely dominates the glass. The Aggies are third in the nation in rebounding margin, beating foes by an average of 9.3 boards a contest.
Projected starters: F C.J. Bobbitt, 6-7, Jr. (4.6 ppg); G Terrell Brown, 6-1, Jr. (11.3 ppg, 43% 3FG); F Eli Chuha, 6-7, Sr. (9.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 65.9% FG); G AJ Harris, 5-9, Jr. (9.6 ppg, 3.4 apg); G Clayton Henry, 6-4, Jr. (5.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg).
Nickname: Huskies. Location: Boston.
Record: 23-10, 14-4. Bid: Colonial Athletic champ.
Last appearance: 2015, lost to Notre Dame in second round.
Coach: Bill Coen (0-1 in one appearance).
Overview: The Huskies likely will rely on outside shooting to advance. They averaged more than 25 shots ar game from beyond the three-point line and made 38.8% of those attempts. The defense will have to improve, however. Northeastern allows opponents to shoot 45.7% from the field — 288th in Division I.
Projected starters: G Vasa Pusica, 6-5, Sr. (17.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.4 apg, 49.5 FG%, 38.5 3FG%); G Jordan Roland, 6-1 Jr. (14.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, 45.6 FG%, 40.5 3FG%); G Bolden Brace, 6-6, Jr. (10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 47.8 FG%, 42.1 3FG%); G Donnell Gresham Jr., 6-1, Jr. (9.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 41.5%, 38.7%); C Anthony Green, 6-10, Sr. (8.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg).
14. Georgia State
Nickname: Panthers. Location: Atlanta
Record: 24-9, 13-5. Bid: Sun Belt champ.
Last appearance: 2018, lost to Cincinnati in first round.
Coach: Ron Hunter (1-2 in two appearances).
Overview: With all five starters averaging at least 11 points a game, Georgia State boasts a balanced and potent scoring attack that dominated the Sun Belt conference for much of the season. Leading scorer D’Marcus Simonds can certainly fill the stat sheet, but is quite inefficient (42.1 FG%, 29.3 3FG%, 67.6 FT%) for a high-volume shooter. Sharpshooters Devin Mitchell (43.2 3FG%) and Malik Benlevi (41.2 3FG%) are lethal from deep.
Projected starters: G D’Marcus Simonds, 6-3, Jr. (18.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.7 apg); G Kane Williams, 6-3, So. (11.4 ppg, 3.6 apg, 52.5 FG%); G Devin Mitchell, 6-4, Sr. (12.4 ppg, 44.2 3FG%, 45.7 FG%); F Jeff Thomas, 6-5, Sr. (11.7, 4.5 rpg, 41.4 3FG%); F Malik Benlevi, 6-6, Sr. (12.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 41.4 3FG%).
15. Abilene Christian
Nickname: Wildcats. Location: Abilene, Texas.
Record: 27-6, 14-4 Bid: Southland champ.
Last appearance: first appearance.
Coach: Joe Golding (first appearance).
Overview: The Wildcats upset No. 4 seed New Orleans in their first conference tournament for their first March Madness bid. Seniors dominated the championship game, scoring 48 points in the paint. The Wildcats previously appeared in Division II tournaments and have a 9-11 combined record.
Projected starters: F Hayden Farquhar, 6-7, Sr. (6.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.8 apg); F Jaren Lewis, 6-6, Sr. (13.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.7 apg); F Joe Pleasant, 6-8, Fr. (5.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.3 apg); G Jaylen Franklin, 6-2, Sr. (10.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.9 apg, 54.0 FG%, 44.4 3FG%); G Payten Ricks, 6-2, Jr. (11.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 83.8 FT%, 40.8 3FG%).
Nickname: Gaels. Location: New Rochelle, N.Y.
Record: 17-15, 12-6. Bid: Metro Atlantic Athletic champ.
Last appearance: 2018, lost to Duke in first round.
Coach: Tim Cluess (0-5 in five appearances).
Overview: It’s been a tale of two seasons for Iona. After getting out to an ugly 2-9 start, the Gaels are on their way to their fourth straight NCAA tournament, thanks in part to a 10-game winning streak to end the season. E.J. Crawford, Rickey McGill and Tajuan Agee make up a balanced attack for the surging Gaels, who might be significantly better than their so-so record shows.
Projected starters: G Rickey McGill, 6-2, Sr. (15.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.3 spg); G Asante Gist, 5-11, Jr. (12.4 ppg, 77.1 FT%); G Ben Perez, 6-4, Jr. (8.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 40.3 3FG%); G/F E.J. Crawford, 6-6, Jr. (17.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 50.9 FG%, 81.8 FG%); F Tajuan Agee, 6-9, Jr. (13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 35.8 3FG%)
Contributing: Jace Evans, Ben Soffer, Jay Cannon, Gabriella Novello, Erick Smith, Paul Myerberg, George Schroeder, Scott Gleeson, Eddie Timanus.