Every spring, I am always fascinated by how teams from different parts of the country get assigned to the East, West, South and MidWest regions of the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. I don’t see the method in the (March) madness, honestly.
So I decided to look to data for a relationship between winning and how far a team is from home.
While the four #1 seeds played their games relatively close to home on average (less than 600 miles), the actual final four teams all played less than 850 miles away from home on average, with Syracuse doing the best job of “wins per mile” followed closely by Villanova, the eventual champion. Five teams played their games over 2,000 miles away on average; Hawaii, Arizona, USC, Holy Cross and St. Joseph’s. Both Hawaii and St. Joseph’s managed to win a game before existing in Round 2. Arizona, USC and Holy Cross were 1 and done for their travel efforts.
Of the 16 teams that played the farthest from home, 11 were 1 and done. In that group, Maryland was the only team to make it into the Sweet Sixteen. In the next quartile of teams that were less far from home, only 7 of 16 teams were 1 and done. This was also true for the final two quartiles of teams closest to home. So did the zip code of your assigned Round 1 region matter? A case could be made, I think. Do you agree?
Tight Games and Drubbings
I also was curious about margin of victory by Round (did it get tighter as the tournament progressed?) and for the final four teams: Villanova, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Syracuse.
Finally, when you look at how the final four teams played defense to limit their opponents score, you see why Syracuse overachieved based on their 10 seed…that terrific zone defense kept opponents from putting the ball in the hoop through the first 4 rounds before losing to North Carolina in the Final Four.
Sometimes you just need to take a break from the business data and have a look at some fun data!
Data sources used for this analysis were CBSSports at http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/scoreboard/ncaa-tournament and Distance Between Cities at http://www.distance-cities.com/.