NCAAB

Ranking Each NCAA Tournament Region for 2024

Austan Kas
Austan Kas@AustanKas
Ranking Each NCAA Tournament Region for 2024

It's time to go dancing.

The 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket has been released, so let's dig in. Specifically, we are going look at the regions as a whole and rank them from easiest to toughest.

To do that, I'll be using a mix of metrics and ratings from KenPom, Bart Torvik and numberFire. I'll also be referencing betting lines from the college basketball odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Here we go.

Ranking the Regions of the NCAA Tournament

4) West Region

Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 9.10 (3rd)
1 Seed numberFire Rating (Rank): 16.77 (4th)
Top 4 Seeds Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 16.60 (3rd)
Top 4 Seeds Average KenPom Rating (Rank): 24.0 (4th)
Bottom 8 Seeds Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 5.94 (2nd)

The West looks like the softest region in the bracket.

Going by all of KenPom, Bart Torvik, and numberFire, North Carolina is -- by far -- the weakest 1 seed. The Tar Heels are not a top-six team in the country by any of those rating systems.

The Heels being a meh 1 seed drags down the average ratings of the top-four seeds in the West, even though Arizona checks out as the best 2 seed by numberFire's ratings. The 'Cats actually have shorter odds to win the college basketball national championship (+1500) than UNC does (+1800).

Sticking with numberFire's rating, the West has either the worst or second-worst 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 seed.

On the flip side, the lesser half of the region is pretty tough as the bottom eight seeds have the second-best average numberFire rating in this year's bracket.

3) Midwest Region

Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 8.89 (4th)
1 Seed numberFire Rating (Rank): 19.80 (2nd)
Top 4 Seeds Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 16.61 (2nd)
Top 4 Seeds Average KenPom Rating: 24.4 (3rd)
Bottom 8 Seeds Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 5.77 (3rd)

I'll be honest: when the regions were revealed, I thought the Midwest Region looked pretty stout. The numbers say that's not the case.

It is, however, strong at the top as the average numberFire rating of the top-four seeds is the second-best. Purdue -- a team looking to exercise some March demons -- is the second-best 1 seed, per numberFire, while Tennessee (2 seed) and Creighton (3) are the second-best teams on their respective seed lines.

A big wild card in this region is Kansas, the 4 seed. The Jayhawks have slipped to 22nd overall by KenPom but have shown the ability to be a top-notch team when Hunter Dickinson and Kevin McCullar Jr. are healthy. If Bill Self's team is 100%, they're better than their current ratings show.

Another team to watch out for is Gonzaga, a squad that overcame a midseason swoon to win 14 of its last 16 games, with both losses coming to a quality Saint Mary's team. numberFire has the Zags as the best 5 seed, and while Gonzaga landed a tricky 12-5 matchup against McNeese State, Mark Few's team is a 6.5-point favorite in that one.

2) South Region

Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 10.29 (1st)
1 Seed numberFire Rating (Rank): 20.40 (1st)
Top 4 Seeds Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 16.28 (4th)
Top 4 Seeds Average KenPom Rating: 24.8 (2nd)
Bottom 8 Seeds Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 6.16 (1st)

Depending on what you place value on, you may consider the South the toughest region.

Per numberFire, Houston -- the South's 1 seed -- is the nation's top team, and the bottom-eight squads in this region own the best average rating. What held me back from putting the South in the top spot is that outside of Houston, the top seeds here are a little lacking.

Marquette (2 seed) and Kentucky (3) are the worst teams on their respective seed lines. UK is a fun team to watch thanks to an offense that ranks as the nation's 5th-best and the fact that they play at the 11th-fastest adjusted tempo, per KenPom. But Kentucky is just 108th in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency. That's a giant red flag.

Duke is the bracket's second-best 4 seed, according to numberFire, and from then on, the South has either the best or second-best 5, 6, 7 and 8 seed in addition to the top average numberFire rating among its bottom-eight seeds.

1) East Region

Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 9.43 (2nd)
1 Seed numberFire Rating (Rank): 19.44 (3rd)
Top 4 Seeds Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 17.69 (1st)
Top 4 Seeds Average KenPom Rating: 28.0 (1st)
Bottom 8 Seeds Average numberFire Rating (Rank): 4.82 (4th)

Even with numberFire being a little lower on Connecticut -- the team with the shortest odds to win the college basketball national championship (+420) -- than Bart Torvik and KenPom are, the East looks like this year's toughest region. I gave this region the nod over the South due to how good the East's top seeds are.

A lot of that has to do with a mis-seeded Auburn team. The Tigers got a 4 seed but rank fifth overall by numberFire, fourth by KenPom and fifth for Bart Torvik. Bruce Pearl's team has a much better argument to be a 1 seed than it does to be a 4 seed. The committee messed this one up.

The East also contains an Illinois team that numberFire rates as the top 3 seed and the ninth-best team in the country.

Where the East lacks is in the lower seeds as it sports the lowest average rating of any region across its bottom eight seeds. But the strength at the top outweighs that in my eyes.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.