Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Regionals and you: The 2015 primer to NCAA tournament sites

Here's what you need to know about who's hosting what:

The First Four is in Dayton, as always.  You know what to do with that.

The 4 sites for the regional finals:
Cleveland (Midwest regional, Thu/Sat)
Los Angeles (West regional, Thu/Sat)  Pepperdine host
Houston (South regional, Fri/Sun)  Houston/Rice host
Syracuse (East regional, Fri/Sun)  Syracuse host

The only team that could suffer a geographic penalty for hosting is Syracuse, obviously.  Notice that Cleveland is pretty eastern for a midwest regional, so some midwestern teams might end up in the South instead.

The 8 sites for the 2nd and 3rd rounds:
Jacksonville (Thu/Sat), Jacksonville host
Louisville (Thu/Sat), Louisville host
Pittsburgh (Thu/Sat), Duquesne host
Portland (Thu/Sat), Oregon host
Charlotte (Fri/Sun), Charlotte host
Columbus (Fri/Sun), Ohio St host
Omaha (Fri/Sun), Creighton host
Seattle (Fri/Sun), Washington host

Some rather big names mixed in there.  Quick thoughts on impact:
1) Louisville and Ohio St host and get "kicked out"....but look at the map.  OSU with a good season can play in Louisville and vice versa.  Kinda solves itself, no?
2) The 2 western sites are in the northwest this year.  Seattle/Portland.  None in California, or Arizona, or New Mexico, or Texas, or Colorado.  Teams in that area are going to have to travel and travel hard.  Very curious decision by the NCAA to do two regionals up there.  Travel will be pretty bad for 4/5/12/13 seeds.
3) Obviously too early to say, but having Louisville and Pittsburgh near Dayton should help the process of travel for play-in game participants this year.
4) Charlotte is a host, and Duke and UNC appear to have little resistance towards gobbling up those spots.  Funny how that works.
5) Pittsburgh is the most northeast any site gets...then Columbus or Charlotte.  Many northeastern teams are going to have to travel more than they're usually used to.
6) The Big 12 vs. Wichita St will be a battle within a battle.  There's only 2 spots in Omaha available, followed by a lot of travel to any other site.
7) Pittsburgh/Columbus/Louisville will likely host all the top Big 10 teams, Kentucky, and the northern ACC teams.  Hopefully, with all 3 sites, no powerhouses get grouped together to play each other early.  If you remember last year, the NCAA had a disaster on its hand with the St Louis regional and its geographic preferences - it resulted in that hilariously loaded Wichita St/Louisville/Michigan/Kentucky path.  This year, there's no "group of death" site that will have all the top teams naturally funnel to it.

And finally, here is the geographic breakdown on preferred 2nd/3rd round regional sites.  This gives you an idea of the competition your teams will likely face to play close to home.

Portland/Seattle:  teams in California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, etc.

Omaha:  teams in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado for sure.  Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri teams.  Probably some Texas teams.

Jacksonville:  everyone in the SEC but Kentucky.  Teams in eastern Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida.  Southeast.  You get the idea.

Charlotte:  Duke and UNC ;)  Special note:  with one site to the south and several just northwest, the path is pretty clear.

Pittsburgh/Columbus/Louisville:  everyone else.  Great Lakes (Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois).  Northeast.  Beltway.  Obviously the B1G teams prefer Columbus, the northeast teams Pittsburgh, etc.  But I suspect these regionals will be more interchangeable this year.  More flexibility for the committee to balance the bracket.  For example, sending a northeast team to Columbus instead of Pittsburgh is no big deal, IMO.

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