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Monday, May 11, 2015

2015 Geospatial Map of NCAA Tournament

My annual maps, visualizing the NCAA softball brackets geographically, are here. There are 16 seeded teams (with seed number in parentheses) in the 64-team field. The key thing to remember is that each set of four schools with the same color and design (based on the seeded team's school colors) are playing in the same regional. To minimize clutter, I have once again divided the regionals into those I consider relatively compact and those I consider scattered. Relatively compact means that all four teams in a regional are geographically close together, or three teams are close together and one distant team is being brought in. These regionals are shown in the following map, which you may click to enlarge.

The Auburn (No. 4 seed) regional, for example, includes teams only from the adjacent states of Alabama and Tennesee. The UCLA (No. 7 seed) regional contains three teams from southern California, plus the University of Texas.

The next map shows the scattered regionals, which to varying degrees bring together teams from different parts of the country.

The Alabama (No. 6 seed) region includes one other southern school, South Carolina-Upstate, but also brings in the University of Washington from the far northwestern U.S., and Fairfield (Connecticut) from the far northeast. Washington and Fairfield will really build up traveler miles for their programs!

The SEC is clearly the dominant conference with 11 teams selected in all, with seven seeded teams: 1 (Florida), 4 (Auburn), 5 (LSU), 6 (Alabama), 8 (Tennessee), 10 (Missouri), and 14 (Georgia). The other four participating SEC teams are Kentucky, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Texas A&M. Vanderbilt does not field a softball squad, meaning that Ole Miss and Arkansas were the only excluded SEC teams. The Pac 12 (which only has nine softball schools) and ACC (which has 11) each had seven schools selected. This NCAA summary article lists all automatic-bid and at-large qualifiers, by conference, at the bottom of the report.