Friday NCAA Tournament Location Edges
It can be difficult to keep track of all the different venues this week but there are a few noteworthy advantages in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Here is a look at a few pairings with a clear location and/or timing edge that may not be fully reflected in the marketplace for Friday’s Round of 64 games.
(12) Virginia Commonwealth vs. (5) Saint Mary’s 2:00 PM ET in Albany, New York
The Gaels did not wind up with a great logistical draw having to fly clear across the country to play in Albany. The timing also works out well for VCU, who claimed this spot in a tense game Sunday but gets to stay on the east coast and gets the extra day with a Friday spot, while a well-rested Saint Mary’s that last played March 7 doesn’t need another day. The early Noon PT start is also far less than ideal for the California squad. If Saint Mary’s wins they will then face a Connecticut or Iona team from an even closer proximity.
(13) Iona vs. (4) Connecticut 4:30 PM ET in Albany, New York
Neither squad can complain about this placement geographically but as the #4 seed Connecticut will be facing an Iona team that gets to play in its home state of New York, even if both campuses are about the same distance from Albany. The victor of this game will have a great location edge in the Round of 32, particularly if Saint Mary’s advances.
(7) Michigan State vs. (10) USC 12:15 PM ET in Columbus, Ohio
Michigan State has made numerous trips to Columbus including playing in this city in mid-February, albeit in a different building. Playing in Big Ten country about a four-hour drive away from East Lansing will be a significant advantage against USC’s lengthy trip, providing a taste of what the travel in the Big Ten will be like for the Trojans.
(11) Pittsburgh vs. (6) Iowa State 3:10 PM ET in Greensboro, North Carolina
Not only is Pittsburgh less than half the distance to Greensboro compared with Ames, but the Panthers also played in the Greensboro Coliseum for two games last week in the ACC Tournament. Pittsburgh faces a hectic week after the tense win in Dayton on Tuesday but heading to a venue with some familiarity in ACC country should be favorable, though surprisingly the Panthers are the only ACC team in the building this week.
(14) Kennesaw State vs. (3) Xavier 12:40 PM ET in Greensboro, North Carolina
Kennesaw isn’t dramatically closer to Greensboro than Cincinnati, but it is a reasonable trip and a slight edge for the significantly worse seed in this pairing.
(3) Kansas State vs. (14) Montana State 9:40 PM ET in Greensboro, North Carolina
This contest is a mixed bag in judging the advantage as while Montana State getting shipped to the southeast makes for a long trip, Montana State will likely prefer the very late start time as the second to last game to tip off on Friday’s schedule, as the Friday grouping includes three eastern time venues alongside Denver.
(6) Creighton vs. (11) NC State 4:00 PM ET in Denver, Colorado
It is a nearly eight-hour drive from Omaha to Denver but given the options, this is a decent landing spot for Creighton this week. NC State seemed destined to be right on the NCAA Tournament cut line but wound up not only in the field but inside of the first four games as well, as a Clemson squad that beat NC State for a third time last week was left out. Raleigh is nearly 1,700 miles from Denver and an up-tempo Wolfpack squad will be tested at altitude.
(3) Baylor vs. (14) Cal Santa Barbara 1:30 PM ET in Denver, Colorado
Denver isn’t an overly appealing draw for Baylor though there are not any Texas venues until the Final Four in this year’s tournament. Denver is the second closest option for Santa Barbara behind Sacramento. While Santa Barbara did not get shipped to the east coast, the start time might work against the Gauchos however with this game opening the action in Denver at 10:30 AM PT.
(11) Arizona State/Nevada vs. (6) TCU 10:05 PM ET in Denver, Colorado
Denver isn’t terribly close to Tempe or Reno for the winner of the game in Dayton Wednesday night, but the victor will be in a late nighttime slot, like the start time Wednesday, for a possible edge vs. a rather late start by TCU standards.