NCAA Brackets 2013: Close Games That Will Be Decided by Location

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 15: Angel Rodriguez #13 of the Kansas State Wildcats reacts against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second half during the Semifinals of the Big 12 basketball tournament at the Sprint Center on March 15, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

When filling out NCAA tournament brackets, one major factor that is often overlooked is the location in each game.

More than any other sport, college basketball seems to have the greatest home-court advantage. Then again, maybe it is just the view of students rushing the court on a nightly basis.

Either way, it is obvious that many teams are much better playing in front of their home crowd than away from it. Florida lost four of its last five road games and Minnesota has not won away from home since Jan. 9. 

These are just some examples, but it appears that location is just as important in college basketball as it is in real estate.

While top seeds like Louisville and Ohio State will have tournament games very close to home, they would likely win anyway. However, the location of these close battles in the Round of 32 will be much more important.


No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 5 Wisconsin

Where: Kansas City, Mo.

This is a game where many people are picking Wisconsin in a slight upset. On paper this makes sense after watching the Badgers beat Michigan and Indiana in consecutive days last week.

However, Kansas State is a very good team as well. The Wildcats earned a share of the Big 12 regular-season title and have a great leading player in Rodney McGruder.

In a close matchup, the deciding factor will be where this game is played. This battle will occur at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, which was the location of the Big 12 tournament.

Although many Kansas fans will root against the in-state rival, there is certain to be a lot more purple in the stands than red for Wisconsin. 

Kansas State only lost one home game this season (by four points to Kansas), and that success should carry over in this one.


No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 5 VCU

Where: Auburn Hills, Mich.

VCU is becoming a popular sleeper pick as experts Jay Bilas, Dana O'Neil and others picked them to make the Final FourHowever, it will not be easy to get past Michigan. 

On the court, point guard Trey Burke should be able to handle VCU's full-court press better than anyone the Rams have faced this year. However, the crowd will also play a huge role in this close game.

Michigan will only have to take a short bus ride to get to Auburn Hills, where their fans will be waiting to cheer on this talented team to advance to the Sweet 16.

VCU fans actually travel very well, but the Rams have struggled a bit on neutral courts, losing to Duke, Missouri and Saint Louis this season. With fans in this game heavily slated toward the Wolverines, the chances of winning this one go way down.


No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 5 UNLV

Where: San Jose, Calif.

This is not a case of one team playing driving distance from the "neutral" game, but there is still a huge difference in the location between the two teams.

Syracuse earned the No. 4 seed after a solid performance in the Big East tournament. However, the Orange are probably not happy with the location or the teams in the bracket.

Not only does this squad have to travel about 3,000 miles for its first couple of games, but the other three teams in that section of the bracket are all on the west coast.

Montana will be a tough matchup in the first game as a squad that can shoot extremely well from three-point range. This will be difficult to defend in the 2-3 zone that Syracuse uses exclusively.

If the Orange make it to the next round, either UNLV or California will be waiting. Both of these squads have the talent to beat Syracuse in any location. Still, neither have any lasting jet lag on Saturday, while the New York team might still be feeling the effects.

Anthony Bennett will look to have a big performance to get his team into the Sweet 16.


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