Thursday 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 Thursday's Round of 64 games.
(12) Charleston vs. (5) San Diego State 3:10 PM ET in Orlando, Florida
It is a six hour drive south from Charleston to Orlando while San Diego State must fly across the country for their opening pairing as the leader of a Mountain West Conference that went winless in the NCAA Tournament last season. This game is also a relatively early start time in which San Diego State hasn’t often faced this season while the pod in Orlando will feature a ACC and SEC powers that will likely offer temporary support to the Cougars.
(1) Alabama vs. (16) Texas A&M Corpus Christi 2:45 PM ET in Birmingham, Alabama
As the #1 overall seed in the field the Crimson Tide warrant a favorable path and they will play just 57 miles away in their home state for the opener. Texas A&M Corpus Christi won narrowly in Dayton Tuesday night before making the trip to the Magic City as the Tide should have a clear edge as they have earned.
(9) Auburn vs. (8) Iowa 6:50 PM ET in Birmingham, Alabama
Both SEC schools from the state of Alabama will be in Birmingham, though in separate sessions. Tide fans won’t be supporting Auburn but the Tigers should have good representation playing just over two hours away from campus compared to a much longer trip for a well-traveling Iowa fanbase. Should Auburn win they would have a somewhat unprecedented location edge vs. the Midwest #1 seed Houston in the Round of 32.
(1) Kansas vs. (16) Howard 2:00 PM ET in Des Moines, Iowa
The Jayhawks landed a #1 seed but were sent to the West region which will feature Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in Las Vegas, instead of a path through Kansas City in the Midwest for the defending national champions. Kansas does have a geographic edge in the first two rounds however as Des Moines is only 230 miles from Lawrence as the Jayhawks will be well supported as usual. Illinois as a potential Round of 32 foe is nearby as well, however.
(10) Utah State vs. (7) Missouri 1:40 PM ET in Sacramento, California
Sacramento is not close to Logan as you must travel across the very large width of Nevada and then some, but considering how many west coast teams were shipped to the east coast in the bracket, this is a preferable landing spot for the Aggies, with likely only Denver as a preferable option. The edge is offset with the early time slot however as the first game to tip in this pod.
(2) Arizona vs. (15) Princeton 4:10 PM ET in Sacramento, California
This is the best of the options available for Arizona with no early round venues in Southern California or greater Phoenix this season. While Sacramento isn’t close to Tucson, the benefit will be with Princeton forced to make a lengthy trip west, particularly with the Tigers being one of the 10 teams still playing on Selection Sunday for a tough turnaround for a Thursday daytime game.
(10) Boise State vs. (7) Northwestern 7:35 PM ET in Sacramento, California
Northwestern should get some support in Sacramento for its rare NCAA Tournament appearance, but this is an ideal landing spot given the options for #10 seed Boise State. While still over 500 miles away, this will be a venue with west coast powers present and a night time start should also be preferable for the Broncos.
(2) UCLA vs. (15) UNC Asheville 10:05 PM ET in Sacramento, California
Despite UCLA losing to Arizona in the Pac-12 final, they snag the late game in Sacramento, getting to play in the home state for the Bruins, though nearly 400 miles up state. Asheville is more than 2,500 miles away from Sacramento and this game will tip after 10 PM in North Carolina, and possibly even later if a closely matched Northwestern/Boise State game goes long.