"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Friday, February 24, 2023

March Travel Plans

We have your travel breakdown for those looking to fly into March with Marquette
 Photo from gomarquette.com

Now that Marquette's NCAA Tournament fate is no longer a matter of if, it's time to start talking about potential destinations. Marquette moves up to a 3-seed in our latest bracket and the likelihood of playing relatively close to Milwaukee is improving consistently. The NCAA Tournament is broken up into eight first weekend destinations and 4 second weekend regions. With Marquette in mind, here are the travel distances to NCAA sites:

Let's go through the sites and see which are most likely and which probably won't come into play. We'll also look at potential geographical nightmares. The NCAA doesn't allow geographic disadvantages for seeded teams against opponents who are within 50 miles of the venue, but we do look at teams Marquette could see in the first weekend that are close but outside that 50 mile circle.

1. Columbus, OH (452 miles)

This is Marquette's second choice location and where they would land if the tournament started today. Purdue will almost certainly be here, but of the other teams fighting for a top-4 seed, only Indiana and Xavier have it as their first choice, and only Tennessee and Virginia have it as a top-two choice (both are likely to go to Greensboro). If Marquette started losing games, they could lose Columbus as a preference, but at this point Columbus is our pick for Marquette's opening weekend destination. Geographical Nightmare Draw: No one wants to be a 3-seed headed to Columbus to play the Dayton Flyers. The NCAA doesn't allow protected seeds to play any school within 50 miles of the site, but Dayton's campus is 70 miles from Nationwide Arena. Flyer fans would pack that venue and have all the hometown fans on their side.

2. Des Moines, IA (373 miles)

This is Marquette's first choice location, but it is also the first choice for Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Creighton, as well as second choice for Baylor. As a probable 1-seed, Kansas seems locked into Des Moines, which means the other teams are playing to be the team to join them. While it's only second choice for Baylor, the Bears' first choice is Birmingham, which is likely getting Alabama and Houston, so Baylor is one of the favorites for Des Moines as well. For Marquette to get to Des Moines, they need to get to the 2-line and get past both Baylor and Kansas State. That seems highly unlikely. I don't think Des Moines is likely to host Marquette. Geographical Nightmare Draw: The Iowa Hawkeyes are currently on the 9 line, but if they played their way to a 7-seed, that could create a 2017 South Carolina situation as Iowa's campus is 114 miles away from Wells Fargo. If Iowa is here, it would be packed with diehards and Wal-Mart fans alike.

3. Albany, NY (911 miles)

If Marquette falls back to the 4 line behind Indiana, then Albany becomes likely. That's because Birmingham and Sacramento will likely fill with one and two seeds, Greensboro will go to teams that would likely pass Marquette in the process of falling down a line, and if Marquette was high enough to get Denver, at least one of their preferred options above would be there. There is a positive to getting Albany, as there could be a strong Big East contingent if UConn earns a protected seed and lands there. Geographical Nightmare Draw: It would be bad enough being a 4-seed having to face Rick Pitino in the first round, but Iona is 148 miles away from Albany's MVP Arena. This site would give Iona not just a coaching edge but a crowd edge against almost any opponent they see.

4. Orlando, FL (1,253 miles)

If Marquette is at the end of the 4-line or on the 5-line, Orlando is a very real possibility because this site will almost certainly have two 4-seeds as the least desirable location for most teams. This site has gone from highly likely to pretty unlikely as Marquette has moved up the S-Curve, but if things go bad, it's still a realistic opening weekend destination. Geographical Nightmare Draw: It's entirely possible a 4-seed could get sent to Orlando and have to take on the home state Miami Hurricanes in the second round. At 234 miles, this is Miami's first choice destination

We're not going to focus as deeply on the second weekend because with more limited options, everyone is competing for the same few spots so it's harder to isolate where a team might land based on who else is around them. Marquette's top choice would be Louisville, a little under 400 miles from campus. Instead, let's move on to the new S-Curve and bracket:

Multibid Leagues

Big 10: 9

Big 12: 8

SEC: 8

ACC: 5

Big East: 5

Mountain West: 3

Pac-12: 3

American: 2

WCC: 2

No comments: