Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament Geospatial Map

Here is my annual geospatial map of NCAA tournament teams, based on the official bracket. As I did last year, I created two separate maps, one for what I call "relatively compact" regionals (i.e., in which all or most of the teams come from contiguous states or even a single state) and one for "scattered" regionals (i.e., in which geographically disparate teams are brought together). Within each map, groups of four teams with the same color scheme are in the same regional, hosted by the seeded team (seed numbers are in parentheses). For example, fifth-seeded Florida hosts Florida A&M (FAMU), Stetson, and Central Florida, these schools appearing in orange boxes with blue letters in honor of the Gators' school colors. You may click on the maps to enlarge them.

One thing that may have jumped out at you is the emptiness of the West Coast, especially in northern California. Cal (4-18) and Stanford (5-19) pulled up the rear in the Pac-12 standings, along with Oregon State (5-17). All three of these schools have appeared in the Women's College World Series in the 2000s, so their recent declines are surprising.

Also, as sometimes happens, the tournament seedings are out of whack with the national polls. Georgia, which was ranked No. 11 and 14 in the polls, is seeded all the way up at No. 4, and Alabama, ranked No. 5 and 6 in the polls, is seeded second. However, in what the NCAA softball website simply describes as "rankings" (perhaps from the RPI or other quantitative system), SEC schools Florida, Alabama, and Georgia comprise the top three in the nation.

One school that was bumped down relative to its poll ranking is Arizona State; the Sun Devils were ranked No. 3 in both major polls, but seeded ninth. Two other Pac-12 teams, Oregon (No. 1 seed) and UCLA (No. 3) held their own in the seedings.

The Missouri (No. 15 seed) region includes three schools that, before the major conference realignment of a few years ago, were all in the Big 12 conference. These three are Kansas, who remains in the Big 12; Nebraska, which moved to the Big 10; and Mizzou, which shifted to the SEC. Bradley is the fourth team in this region.