Monday, September 28, 2015

Regional sites and you: a 2016 primer

Let's peek ahead to see where the 2016 tournament will be played, and if we can glean some useful nuggets from it.  There's usually a built-in geographic advantage or disadvantage for a few teams, just based on luck of the draw.

First and second round sites:
Thursday/Saturday sites:  Providence (hosted by Providence), Des Moines (hosted by Iowa St), Raleigh (hosted by NC State), Denver (hosted by the Mountain West)
Friday/Sunday sites:  Brooklyn (hosted by the A-10), St Louis (hosted by the MVC), Oklahoma City (hosted by the Big 12), Spokane (somehow hosted by Idaho.  What?)

Yeah, Idaho is the host site for an arena.  Which is in Washington State.  You figure that one out.  The other 3 programs hosting sites might get hurt a bit (Providence can still wind up in Brooklyn, Iowa St in St Louis, and NC gonna have to travel).

You'll notice the southernmost sites are really in Raleigh and Oklahoma City.  The southeastern-based programs (looking at you, SEC), might be in for a bit of a hurt, especially once you consider that UNC and Duke are going to want to play in Raleigh.  You'll also notice a void in the southwest, with no regionals in California, and the two western regionals being north in Spokane and mountainous in Denver.

The geographic cluster happens in the plains, with Des Moines, St Louis, and Oklahoma City.  Expect OKC to house the best of the Big 12.  The best of the Big 10 will likely funnel to Des Moines/St Louis (with the obvious exception of Maryland).

All these notable things aside, however, the geography is rather balanced.  You have 3 east coast regional sites to house your east coast teams, 3 midwestern sites to house all those teams, and 2 west coast sites that should be good enough to cover all the best west coast teams.  Reasonably balanced.

Regional final sites:
Thursday/Saturday:  Anaheim (hosted by the Big West), Louisville (hosted by Louisville)
Friday/Sunday:  Chicago (hosted by the Big 10), Philadelphia (hosted by LaSalle)

For Louisville, at least Chicago isn't that far away, so not the biggest deal.  Again, notice the lack of southern options in general.  The ACC frontrunners and Maryland will have 2 reasonably close sites in Louisville and Philly to choose from.  Other Big 10 favorites have Chicago to gun for.  Pac 12 favorites have Anaheim to go for.  Big 12 frontrunners will have to travel a bit, though.  And Kentucky has an in-state option.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Conference realignment 2015-16

The good news is that for the first time in a long time, the landscape is quiet.  There's only a couple of minor changes from last year to this year, and neither will have a major impact on the bracketing process.  This is a stark change from the last couple of years where the changes impact most of the smaller conferences.

Northern Kentucky goes from the Atlantic Sun to the Horizon - the Horizon is a full step behind the multi-bid conferences of the A-10, MVC, WCC, et al.  This won't help that, but will stabilize them long-term.

NJIT goes from independent to the Atlantic Sun - the A-Sun is bottom-of-the-barrel, and NJIT might be able to content immediately.

We had a lot of changes the previous years.  What has been the impact of the changes?

- Maryland and Rutgers to the Big 10 - well, Maryland's going to pay off for them now
- The American adding basketball deadweight to help out football - for two straight years now, the AAC has been hurt in selection and seeding because of their bottom-feeders.  They need to rectify this situation sooner rather than later
- CUSA going to 16 teams - they had some good teams at the top, but some bad ones at the bottom.  Based on how the computer numbers played out, the bad teams hurt more than the good teams helped.  More evidence that bigger is not better for mid-major conferences

Things should continue to be mostly quiet (although Coastal Carolina is now on the move).  Right now, it looks like the advantage is going to the mid-majors who are sticking to 10 teams instead of 14 or 16 (MWC, MVC, and WCC are getting a boon here).  Along these lines, I expect that the Horizon is done after adding NKU, and the A-Sun will have a fighting chance to escape the 16 line in March.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Welcome to the 2015-16 season

This blog is back to being semi-active, starting today.  Expect a few informational articles to come this month with the usual details (regional sites, conference realignment, etc.), and a preseason bracket in the next week or two.