UK head coach John Calipari believes the South region is the toughest of the four regions in the NCAA tournament.
“They stacked the region,” Calipari said. “The only thing I was happy about – I heard they were trying to get an exemption for the Heat to be the second seed in our bracket, and they weren’t allowed to get that so they couldn’t put them in there too.”
Is he statistically accurate, however?
We put together a spreadsheet and analyzed RPIs and W-L records of the two thru 16 seeds in each region.
SouthRPIWinsLosesEastRPIWinsLoses2-Duke5276Ohio St.72773-Baylor8277Florida St.172494-Indiana16258Wisconsin222495-Wichita St.12275Vanderbilt2524106-UNLV18268Cincinnati4224107-Notre Dame402211Gonzaga242568-Iowa St332210Kansas St.4921109-UConn322013Southern Miss.2025810-Xavier372112West Virginia56191311-Colorado622311Texas50201312-VCU39286Harvard3526413-New Mexico St.59269Montana7325614-South Dakota St.43277St. Bonaventure79201115-Lehigh91267Loyola Maryland7725816-Play-In1661815UNC Asheville103249all seeds44.0736513545.27353133two thru 1535.3634712041.14329124two thru 1022.332178029.11213WestRPIWinsLosesMidwestRPIWinsLosesMissouri10304Kansas6276Marquette9257Georgetown14238Louisville13269Michigan11249New Mexico27276Temple19247Murray St.21301San Diego St.26267Florida282310St. Mary’s (Calif.)29275Memphis15268Creighton23285Saint Louis31257Alabama362111Virginia52229Purdue452112Colorado St.302011North Carolina St.482212Long Beach St.34258Play-In45.52211Davidson65257Ohio47277Play-In43.5257.5Belmont58277Norfolk St.128259Detroit1252213LIU Brooklyn81258Play-In120.52311all seeds39.17379111.543.53364131two thru 1536.18354103.538.04341120two thru 1022.892346123.2222170
From both a RPI and win-loss standpoint, the West Region looks to be the toughest from top to bottom. They have two teams with 30 wins and the statistically toughest eight seed (Memphis).
If you just use RPI as a gauge, the South has the toughest two, three, six and 10 seeds in the field.
The play-in game that features Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky makes the numbers a bit murky. We averaged the two teams for the purposes of this chart, but WKU’s RPI of 189 definitely had an impact in the averages. That is why we added a line and looked at just the two thru 15 seeds and then also just the two thru 10 seeds.
If you look at just seeds two thru 15, the South has the highest RPI ranking and the second highest total of wins.
Overall, however, the numbers are pretty close across the board.
The tournament committee certainly set up some interesting story-lines in the South Region, but it doesn’t statistically appears to be slanted against Calipari’s Cats.