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Midwest Regional Preview!!

Kentucky Coach John Calipari - photo by Brendon D. Miller - Bluegrass Sports Nation

CATS, Heels, Auburn and Houston battle in Kansas City!!

March 27, 2019 – David Leveridge- Bluegrass Sports Nation

The world is currently encompassed by March Madness, and this weekend’s four regionals will determine the big prize, the Final Four.  The Midwest Region will great a ticket to College Basketball’s most coveted prize, a trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Final Four.  The four teams competing in Kansas City include two Blue Bloods, in the Kentucky Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels, while the Auburn Tigers and Houston Cougars round out the field.  The games will take place on Friday March 29, 2019 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  In the first game, North Carolina battles the Auburn, with the game tipping at 7:29 pm Eastern time.  The night cap features the Kentucky Wildcats battling the Houston Cougars with a tip time expected at 9:57 pm Eastern time.  The Games will be broadcast on TBS. Facts on each team:

University of North Carolina Tar Heels– #1 seed / overall record of 29-6

  • Head Coach- Roy Williams has been the coach of the Tar Heels for the last sixteen seasons.  Coach Williams is a proven winner as he has coached North Carolina to three NCAA National Basketball Championships 2005, 2009, and 2017.  While at the helm of the program, Coach Williams has won 451 games to only 132 losses and a .779 winning percentage.  Coach Williams has been coaching for thirty- one seasons and has an all-time coaching record of 871-233.
  • Starters – Coby White at point guard, Freshmen and Former McDonald’s All American in 2018.  Nassir Little at Small Forward, Freshmen and former McDonald’s All American in 2018.  Cameron Johnson at power forward, Senior and former Pittsburg Panther before transferring.  Luke May at center, Senior and former NCAA Champion (2017).  Kenny Williams a Senior shooting guard and former NCAA Champion (2017).
  • Stats – The Tar Heels are one of the most storied teams in all of College Basketball.  The Tar Heels regularly appear in the NCAA Tournament and have captured the Championship six times in the history of the program, 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009, and 2017.  This year’s Carolina team has the right combination of experience and skilled Freshmen to make a deep run in the Tournament.  After a slow start to the season, the Tar Heels finished ACC competition and NCAA Tournament record with a 19-3 record and earned a Number one seed for the sixteenth time in School History.
  • NCAA Tournament and Success in the Sweet 16 – The Tar Heels have been to the NCAA Tournament forty-eight times in history.  The Tar Heels have been to the Sweet 16 thirty-four times in history.
  • Strengths – Experience, Blueblood with Rich Tradition, Speed, three- point shooting and capable of going on quick runs.
  • Weakness- lack of a deep bench, if the three-point shot is not falling offense can be stagnant, style of offense can let teams back into games.

The University of Kentucky Wildcats #2 seed / overall record of 29-6

  • Head Coach – John Calipari, Head Coach of the Kentucky Wildcats and is in his tenth season at the helm of the most prestigious program in all of College Basketball.  Coach Calipari is a 2015 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee and won the 2012 National Championship.  While at Kentucky, Calipari has an overall record of 304-70 and a .813 winning percentage.  Calipari has been a head coach overall for twenty-six seasons and has an all- time record of 707-208.
  • Starters- Ashton Hagans Freshmen at point guard.  Keldon Johnson at small forward Freshmen and former McDonald’s All American (2018).  Tyler Herro at shooting guard Freshmen.  Reid Travis at center and former Stanford Cardinal, before transferring.  P.J Washington Sophomore at Forward and ALL SEC first team (2019), All American 2019 and Former McDonald’s All American (2017).  (Assuming Washington returns to the court following his ankle injury.)  E.J. Montgomery at forward Freshmen and former McDonald’s All American (2018) only if Washington is unable to play due to the injury.
  • Stats – Kentucky is the winningest program in the History of the NCAA.  Kentucky leads the NCAA in several categories including most Tournament appearances at 59, NCAA tournament games played 178, NCAA Sweet 16 appearances at 44, and Elite Eight Appearances at thirty- seven.  This year’s Kentucky team has struggled at times but when they play their best has right combination to be a serious contender in the NCAA Tournament.  Since the start of the SEC regular season the CATS have an overall record of twenty-one wins to only four loses.
  • Sweet 16 appearances – UK has appeared in the Sweet 16 forty-four times in the history of the program.  UK has also appeared in the Sweet 16 (8) times in the Calipari era with the last appearance last season 2018.
  • Strengths – Deep Bench, Experience (Reid Travis and P.J Washington), multiple lineup combinations, quickness, defense.
  • Weakness- if the three-point shot isn’t falling offense can become stagnant.  Turnover prone, unable to close out opponents.

University of Houston Cougars # 3 seed / overall record of 33-3

  • Head Coach – Kelvin Sampson is the head coach of the Cougars.  Sampson is in his fifth season at Houston and has a 116-51 record with a .695 winning percentage. Sampson has been a coach at both the Collegiate and Professional levels.  Sampson has been a head coach for twenty-six seasons with stops at Washington State University, Oklahoma University, Indiana University, and at the University of Houston.  Sampson has a career record of 819 and 541.
  • Starters – Galen Robinson at point guard, Junior.  Corey Davis at shooting guard, Junior.  Armani Brooks at Center.  Fabian White at forward, junior. Breon Brady at small forward, Junior.
  • Stats – Houston was once a dominant team in College Basketball with the Phi Slama Jama team in the early 1980’s with current NBA Hall of Famers, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon.  The team went to back to back NCAA Championship games but was unable to capture the crown in either year.  Since the 1980’s the Cougars haven’t had much success in the NCAA Tournament only going to the Big Dance six times since that era, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2010, 2018, and 2019.  This years Cougars team is in the Tournament for the second consecutive year and nearly beat last season’s National Runner-Up in the round of thirty- two the Michigan Wolverines before falling on a last second shot.
  • NCAA Tournament and Success in the Sweet 16 – The Cougars have been to the NCAA Tournament twenty-one times in the history of the School.  The Cougars have appeared in the Sweet Sixteen eleven times and have been to the Final Four five times in the history of the program 1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, and 1984.
  • Strengths- 3 point shooting, experience, quickness, two starters in Brooks and Davis averaging double figures, Davis at 16.7 PPG and Brooks at 13.6.  Veteran led team, full of upper-class men.
  • Weakness- live and die by the three-point shot, turnover prone, bench play.

University of Auburn Tigers #5 seed / overall record of 28-9

  • Head Coach – Bruce Pearl is the Head Coach of the Tigers and is coaching his fifth season at Auburn.  Pearl has a career record at Auburn of 98-71 and a .580 winning percentage.  Pearl has been a head coach for fifteen seasons and has an overall coaching record of 499 and 329 with stops at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin, University of Tennessee, and Auburn University.
  • Starters – Jared Harper at point guard, Bryce Brown at shooting guard, Malik Dunbar at small forward, Anfernee McLemore at power forward, and Chuma Okeke at center.
  • Stats – Unlike the other teams in this Tournament, Auburn has never been to the Final Four.  The farthest the Tigers have ever got is the Elite Eight in 1986.  Coach Pearl does have the Tigers poised to make a deep run in the Tournament as the Tigers have won last Season’s SEC Regular Season Championship and this season’s SEC Conference Tournament.
  • NCAA Tournament and Sweet Sixteen Success – The Tigers have been to the NCAA Tournament ten times in program history.  The Tigers have also appeared in the Sweet Sixteen five times with the last occurrence in the 2003 season. 
  • Strengths- The Tigers are one of the Hottest teams in the Country winning the SEC Tournament and ten wins in a row.  The Tigers are also quick, and the Tigers are effective from the three- point line.
  • Weakness- Lack of Depth from the bench, turnover prone, if the three-point ball isn’t falling the team is ineffective and lack of a premiere player to lead the team.

All stats from Wikipedia website.

Bluegrass Sports Nation will be in attendance to cover the NCAA Men’s Basketball Midwest Regional.  Our team will consist of Brendon Miller owner and lead photographer, Michael Willis columnist, media and videos and myself David Leveridge colunminst, media and videos.  Follow BSN for your coverage of the CATS quest for Championship #9 and the Road to the Final Four.

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