Friday, November 19, 2021

The NCAA in 16 Regions

If men's college basketball were divided into 16 regions -- like the KHSAA -- these would be the top teams in each region, according to Ken Pomeroy:

1st Region:  Connecticut (ranked 21st in Ken Pom)
2d Region:  St. Bonaventure (30th)
3d Region:  Villanova (10th)
4th Region:  Virginia Tech (25th)
5th Region:  Duke (9th)
6th Region:  Florida (19th)
7th Region:  Arkansas (22d)
8th Region:  Tennessee (11th)
9th Region:  Ohio St. (17th)
10th Region:  Michigan (3d)
11th Region:  Illinois (6th)
12th Region:  Kansas (2d)
13th Region:  Baylor (5th)
14th Region:  Arizona (28th)
15th Region:  Gonzaga (1st)
16th Region:  UCLA (7th)

The 8th Region looks like a dogfight.  Here are the teams most likely to reach the 8th Region Tournament:

29th District:  (15) Kentucky, (143) No. Kentucky
30th District:  (51) Louisville, (107) Murray St.
31st District:  (11) Tennessee, (125) Chattanooga
32d District:  (13) Memphis, (65) Belmont

That would set up the following quarter-finals at Memorial Gym in Nashville:

Louisville v. No. Kentucky
Tennessee v. Belmont
Memphis v. Chattanooga
Kentucky v. Murray St.

Assuming that the 8th Region had been played every year since 2002, and that the results tracked the rankings in Pomeroy, the last 20 regional finals would have looked like this (teams that reached the Final Four in the real world are in bold):

2002:  (10) Kentucky v. (44) W. Kentucky
2003:  (1) Kentucky v. (10) Louisville
2004:  (10) Kentucky v. (19) Louisville
2005:  (4) Louisville v. (9) Kentucky
2006:  (6) Memphis v. (17) Tennessee
2007:  (9) Memphis v. (19) Louisville
2008:  (2) Memphis v. (8) Louisville
2009:  (4) Memphis v. (5) Louisville
2010:  (4) Kentucky v. (30) Tennessee
2011:  (7) Kentucky v. (14) Louisville
2012:  (1) Kentucky v. (17) Louisville
2013:  (1) Louisville v. (37) Memphis
2014:  (1) Louisville v. (13) Kentucky
2015:  (1) Kentucky v. (17) Louisville
2016:  (6) Kentucky v. (7) Louisville
2017:  (4) Kentucky v. (9) Louisville
2018:  (13) Tennessee v. (17) Kentucky
2019:  (8) Kentucky v. (10) Tennessee
2020:  (9) Louisville v. (29) Kentucky
2021:  (28) Tennessee v. (31) Memphis

Of course, it wouldn't have really looked like that, there would have been some upsets.  But not that many -- with rare exceptions (like last year), the 8th Region has been loaded.

Several of these games really happened in tournament play, of course.  In 2010, UK beat UT in the semi-finals of the SEC Tournament.  In 2012, UK beat U of L in the Final Four.  In 2014, UK beat U of L in the Sweet 16.  In 2018, UK beat UT in the SEC semi-finals.  And in 2019, UT beat UK in the SEC semi-finals.

For what it's worth, in my mind the Eighth Region Tournament is always played in either Freedom Hall  (in odd years) or Memorial Gymnasium (in even years).


  1. I was pretty pumped up for this game tonight. Ken Pom thought that the Cats would beat Ohio 80-68, and at the half UK was up only 40-38. But Tshiebwe spent almost the whole first half in foul trouble, and in the second half he returned, and Ohio's offense slowly fell apart. UK won 77-59, which means their margin was six points larger than Pomeroy predicted. That's very good.

  2. Cats were number 15 going into tonight's game; they may move up a place or two.

  3. In fact, the Cats have moved up to number 11 on Ken Pom. They are 11th in offensive efficiency and 26th in defensive efficiency.

  4. I'm probably going to spend a lot of time complaining about Keion Brooks and his jump shots, so I feel obliged to point out that he was 9-15 from 2-point range against Ohio. He spent most of the game wide open from about 10-15 feet -- because no one guards that shot any more -- and he hit a bunch of them. He finished with 22 points and 8 rebounds, and he'll probably keep taking those jump shots for the rest of the season. I have long believed that if anyone who consistently make 15-foot jump shots, they would be almost unstoppable in today's game, because no one guards that shot. Cal has apparently decided to try this out with Brooks.