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 State, Purdue, 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.