The selection committee in charge of deciding the NCAA Tournament field has a tough job. Every year teams are snubbed, teams are seeded lower/higher than they should be, teams’ paths to the Final Four are full of roadblock. The most daunting task of all is not the who, however–it’s the where. Teams are kept “in or as close to their areas of natural interest as possible” according to the NCAA’s principles and procedures for establishing the bracket handbook.
The top-seeded teams in each region generally have the easiest road early on and have to travel the shortest distance to the second and third round games, resulting in a bit of a “home court” advantage. It may be overrated though, because after all, there are no true road games in the tourney.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the best and worst “home court” advantages based on the sites for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, according to teams most likely to participate in March Madness.
Home Court Advantage: The Indiana Hoosiers have as good a chance for a home court advantage as any team in the country–three sites are within 140 miles of their Bloomington campus. The Midwest Regional will take place in Indianapolis, but that’s a ways off–Lexington and Dayton both host second and third round games. Indiana travels well so it’s likely that wherever they wind up and however far they go, there’ll be plenty of crimson and cream in the stands.
Home Court Disadvantage: Being a possible No. 1 seed, you’d think the Gonzaga Bulldogs would be sent packing not far from home. You’d be wrong. The Zags will definitely be sent somewhere out west–likely Salt Lake City or San Jose. Problem is, they’re 547 miles and 743 miles from campus, respectively. The sites are all made well ahead of time and honestly, who saw Gonzaga rising to No. 1 in the country? The Bulldog faithful will likely travel but will it be a trip made in vain?
Home Court Advantage: Despite playing in one of the smallest gyms in college hoops, Gonzaga’s little brother, the Saint Mary’s Gaels may only have a short 30-mile drive to San Jose for their second round game. If they don’t get the closest draw, the next feasible place for them to travel would be Salt Lake City, which is 587 miles from campus. I guess we’ll see if there are really that many Saint Mary’s fans out there.
Home Court Disadvantage: For as good as the Miami (FL) Hurricanes have been this season and despite recent struggles (1-3 in their last 4 games), the ‘Canes will likely have one of the higher seeds wherever they wind up. The problem for Miami is simple–the closest second and third round site to their Coral Gables campus is in Lexington, Ky., which is 883 miles away. They might be hard-pressed to get their fans away from the sun and sand to see them play early on. The East Regional in Washington, D.C. is the closest regional site for the Hurricanes–at 923 miles away.
Home Court Advantage: The Louisville Cardinals are atop the Big East standings in a three-way tie thanks to a Georgetown loss last night. Both Dayton and Lexington are within a 150-mile radius of campus, so should the ‘Ville end up in either locale, their fans will likely follow. They’re hot at the right time and a win over No. 24 Notre Dame on Saturday will give them at least a share of the regular season title while a deep run in the Big East tournament might give them an outside shot at a No. 1 seed, as long as Georgetown doesn’t win it. A trip to Indy (111 miles) could be in the cards if Louisville can advance and/or if they’re placed accordingly.
Home Court Disadvantage: There might not be a better team in the Pac-12 than the Oregon Ducks, but simply put, it means nothing. The closest possible venue for the Ducks is the H.P. Pavilion (San Jose, Calif., 473 miles) followed by the Energy Solutions Arena (Salt Lake City, 617 miles). Oregon is 17-2 at home this year and just 6-4 away from McArthur Court, so they won’t get dealt any favors wherever they wind up.
March Madness is always an exciting time of year regardless of who goes where. Fans come out from the woodwork to cheer on their team and it also gives college basketball fans an opportunity to adopt a team to cheer for.