This year, the average team in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will travel over 850 miles. But how those miles are distributed among the 68 teams* is far from equal.
This year, 11 teams will be required to travel at least 1,500 miles for their opening round match-up. Meanwhile, 13 teams will play within 250 miles of their campus, or about a three-and-a-half hour drive.
Here is a breakdown of the 15 teams that have to travel the farthest in the first round, as well as the 15 teams that could walk to their opening round arena…
Notre Dame is the biggest beneficiary, playing their opening round games at the United centre in Chicago. That is a mere 95 miles from their South Bend, Indiana campus. Purdue, who is also playing in the United centre, will only have to travel 108 miles. Meanwhile, U-Dub (Washington) must travel 2,811 miles to Charlotte, North Carolina. (If they survive, they have to go back to Newark, NJ, the next weekend.) The same site that will also host Duke and North Carolina, both within 150 miles of the arena.
According to Nate Silver, teams that travel 200 miles or less are 102-45 in the tournament the last eight years. Meanwhile, teams that are required to travel at least 1,000 miles are 121-174. Overall, teams playing closer to home have won 59 per cent of the games played. And when a team has to travel at least 1,000 miles more than their opponent, they are 25-73. Of course, higher seeds tend to get games closer to home, so these records are not unexpected.
And if you want to visualise all the teams and sites on a map, be sure to check out Google’s mash-up.
Yesterday, we explained why Washington has a good shot to make a deep run as a 7-seed. But if they do, they will have logged a lot of frequent flyer miles in the process.
* Data considers how far all 68 teams would have to travel to their first round matchup. The four teams that lose the play-in games are also included.
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