Site Seeing – An Early Look At NCAA Tournament Subregionals

Posted by Andrew Gripshover on January 22nd, 2016

We’re exactly two months away from the opening Thursday of the NCAA Tournament. While it’s popular to examine bracketologies and bubble watches in advance of Selection Sunday, the jostling at the top of the bracket for protected seeds and preferential geography is less discussed but potentially as important as seed-lines and the last teams in and out of the field. We’re at the point in the season when it’s starting to become clear which teams will be on the top seed lines and receiving a geographical edge. Beyond that, there are a bunch of teams jostling for position at their preferred locations. Here’s a look at some storylines and projections in regards to who will end up where in eight weeks.

The Midwest has both a ton of sites and a ton of top seeds. Oklahoma City, Des Moines and St. Louis each host subregionals this season. That is a lot of sites that are relatively close to each other (they’re all inside of 600 miles from one another), but it happens to come in a year with a bunch of strong teams in that part of the country. Oklahoma is a safe bet to stay in its home state for the opening weekend. Kansas is likely to end up in either Des Moines (234 miles from Lawrence) or St. Louis (289 miles). After those two likely top-three seeds, you’ve got both Kentucky teams (Louisville, Kentucky), the pair of Iowa contenders (Iowa, Iowa State), and then Michigan StatePurdue, Xavier all competing to stay in the Midwest for the first and second rounds. Texas A&M and Baylor should also be in contention to stay in the Central time zone, although Denver is also an option for the Aggies and Bears.

Buddy Hield And His Sooners Are Among The Big 12 Teams Likely To Stay Close To Home For The Tournament's First Two Rounds (Photo: AP)

Buddy Hield And His Sooners Are Among The Big 12 Teams Likely To Stay Close To Home For The Tournament’s First Two Rounds (Photo: AP)

Villanova and Providence could be locks for Brooklyn. If they finish strong, the Friars seem likely to play in the Barclays Center since they’re ineligible to play on their home court back in Providence. They’re a #5 seed on the Bracket Matrix at present but with an RPI of 24 and two games left against both RPI No. 1 Villanova and No. 3 Xavier, Kris Dunn and company will have chances to move up (or down) in the bracket. The better bet in the Big East is penciling in the Wildcats for Brooklyn. Jay Wright’s squad continues to dominate the Big East regular season, and Brooklyn is the nearest subregional for the RPI’s current top team.

Who plays in Spokane?. As usual, there are more subregionals in the West than there are quality basketball teams, so you will again see some unlucky 3 and 4 seeds drawing the short straws and having to make the trek out west, as 4th seeded Louisville had to do in Seattle last year. In fact, Spokane isn’t even one of the two closest sites for likely high seed Arizona (both Oklahoma City and Denver are closer). Still, the Cats are likely to end up in the Pac-12 footprint if they’re a protected seed, especially given all that traffic sure to exist in the Central time zone.

Raleigh is the only subregional in the South and North Carolina’s all but there already. The Tar Heels are a virtual lock for a top 8 seed barring a February and March collapse, which means there’s very likely only one protected spot left at the RBC Center for ACC teams Duke, Virginia and Miami. Relatively close geographic outsiders like Maryland and West Virginia could also be in the mix. The best bet is one of the ACC schools, but they could all end up very close to each other on the S-curve. Miami and Virginia are both #3 seeds on Bracket Matrix and Duke has now slipped down to a #5 because of its recent losing streak. A lot could be on the line at the ACC Tournament in Washington DC.

Andrew Gripshover (15 Posts)

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One response to “Site Seeing – An Early Look At NCAA Tournament Subregionals”

  1. […] I wrote a piece for Rush the Court two weeks ago that explored this year’s subregionals and the teams who might get to play at them. As it was two weeks ago, some of them are all but set in stone already. Oklahoma’s going to be playing in Oklahoma City. Iowa will play in Des Moines, Kansas will either join them there or go to St. Louis and Villanova will be in Brooklyn. Will Maryland join them? […]

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