NCAA Tournament games in KC could be hot ticket

01/29/2013 12:09 PM

05/16/2014 8:56 PM

What fans will take over the Power Light District for the NCAA Tournament?

Kansas, ranked first in the USA Today coaches’ poll and second in the AP, seems a lock to play at the Sprint Center for the second- and third-round games in March. But as the weekly rankings remind us, many teams within a short driving distance could also spend the tournament’s first weekend — March 22 and 24 — on Grand Boulevard.

This week’s top candidate is Wichita State, but our early projected bracket has the Shockers just missing out on the short trip to Kansas City. Missouri, Kansas State and Creighton are also in the running for an early-round ticket to the Sprint Center.

Applying guesswork with formulas that determine tournament paths make Kansas the top-seeded team in the South Regional, the semifinals and final of which will be played in Arlington, Texas.

The top four seeds in each region are given favorite early-round site selection when possible. For this projected bracket, we’ll use the polls to determine the top 16 seeds, and, in reality, the final polls usually come close to reflecting the seed order.

That makes KU a No. 1 seed. The Shockers, ranked 14th in the Associated Press and 15th by the coaches this week, are the only other team close to Kansas City in the top 16.

If Wichita State is a fourth-seeded team, at least 12 higher-seeded teams will be placed in the eight second- and third-round sites before the Shockers. Other second- and third-round destinations are Philadelphia; Lexington, Ky.; Auburn Hills, Mich.; Dayton, Ohio; Austin, Texas; Salt Lake City and San Jose, Calif.

So we took the top 12 teams in the polls and assigned them to the sites closest to their campus. When we did this, a spot for a fourth-seeded team was available in Kansas City. We gave it to Louisville over the Shockers, and sent Wichita State to Austin.

This doesn’t mean teams assigned the same early sites are part of the same regional. It could happen, but often that’s not the case.

Still, Kansas and Louisville in Sprint Center, or Wichita State, K-State, Mizzou or Creighton would make Kansas City one of the toughest tickets of the early rounds.

Blair Kerkhoff’s NCAA Tournament projection

Second- and third-round sites for each team in parentheses. Regional semifinal and final sites are listed below each region. The Final Four is in Atlanta:

Midwest Region South Region East Region West Region
Seed Indianapolis Arlington, Texas Washington, D.C. Los Angeles
1. Michigan (Auburn Hills) Kansas (Sprint Center) Indiana (Dayton) Florida (Lexington)
2. Arizona (San Jose) Duke (Philadelphia) Syracuse (Philadelphia) Gonzaga (Salt Lake City)
3. Butler (Dayton) Michigan State (Auburn Hills) Oregon (San Jose) Ohio State (Lexington)
4. Mississippi (San Jose) Wichita State (Austin) Miami, Fla. (Austin) Louisville (Sprint Center)

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