Which NCAA Tournament Top Seed Got Easiest Travel Schedule?

Which NCAA Tournament Top Seed Got Easiest Travel Schedule?
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

It’s been 22 years since the Arizona Wildcats last reached the Final Four, when Lute Olson led the U of A all the way from Tucson some 1,300 miles northeast to play in the Twin Cities. That year, the Wildcats knocked off No. 1 seed Michigan State, 80-61, before faltering down the stretch to fall to Duke, 82-72, in the national championship game.  

This year, Tommy Lloyd’s Arizona team enters March Madness with a 600-mile opening weekend junket in Salt Lake City, where the 2nd seeded Wildcats will tangle with 15th seed Long Beach State on Thursday, before playing the winner of seventh seed Dayton and 10th seed Nevada on Saturday with a victory over The Beach.  

At the moment, oddsmakers at bet365 Arizona list the Wildcats as a 20.5-point favorite over The Beach, with a -4500 moneyline for the visitors from Tucson (to +1500 for LBSU).  

bet365 also has Arizona at No. 4 on their title odds board, at +1100, with the Wildcats ranking behind UConn (+380), Houston (+550) and Purdue (+700), with an eye towards reaching the Final Four that’ll be held in Arizona for just the second time ever in early April.  

With two wins this week, the Wildcats will ensconce to Los Angeles to play the West region semifinal and final at Crypto.com Arena against Baylor, Colgate, Clemson or New Mexico in the Sweet 16 in late March, with a potential Elite Eight showdown against top seed UNC, fourth seed Alabama, 12th seed GCU or 13th seed College of Charleston.  

To get a sense of where Arizona’s Final Four trek stands nationally in terms of distance covered, BetArizona.com, home to all things Arizona sports betting, broke down the data on where the Wildcats would go to cover the 131 miles it takes to travel from McKale Center to State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

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Top 4 Seeds Mileage If They Make Final Four

RankTeamSeed, RegionPotential LocationsTotal Mileage (if make Final Four)
1 Arizona# 2 in WestSalt Lake City, LA, Glendale1,394 miles
2Marquette# 2 in SouthIndianapolis, Dallas, Glendale2,539 miles
3 Kentucky# 3 in SouthPittsburgh, Dallas, Glendale2,552 miles
4 Purdue# 1 in MidwestIndianapolis, Detroit, Glendale2,761 miles
5 Kansas#4 in MidwestSalt Lake City, Detroit, Glendale2,782 miles
6 UConn# 1 in EastBrooklyn, Boston, Glendale1,394 miles
7 Creighton# 3 in MidwestPittsburgh, Detroit, Glendale2,884 miles
8 Iowa State# 2 in EastOmaha, Boston, Glendale2,934 miles
9 Tennessee# 2 in MidwestCharlotte, Detroit, Glendale2,940 miles
10 Baylor# 2 in WestMemphis, LA, Glendale3,031 miles
11 Houston# 1 in SouthMemphis, Dallas, Glendale3,069 miles
12 Illinois# 3 in EastOmaha, Boston, Glendale3,240 miles
13 Duke# 4 in SouthBrooklyn, Dallas, Glendale3,031 miles
14 North Carolina# 1 in WestCharlotte, LA, Glendale4,865 miles
15 Auburn# 4 in EastSpokane, Boston, Glendale5,360 miles
16 Alabama# 4 in WestSpokane, LA, Glendale5,952 miles

Arizona Has Shortest Final Four Path In Nation

Thanks to being 131 miles from the site of this year’s Final Four, the Wildcats have a vastly shorter path through the opening weekend to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight than any other team in March Madness.

In total, pulling off four wins and reaching this year’s Final Four would take Arizona some 1,394 miles in total. We reached that number from Tucson to Salt Lake City (777 miles) to Los Angeles (488 miles) to Glendale (131 miles each way), giving the Wildcats a sizable edge over No. 2 Marquette when it comes to the least amount of distance covered to get to the national semifinal. The Golden Eagles by comparison would have to trek 2,539 miles from their Milwaukee campus to get to the desert.  

Other teams with relatively short treks to reach this year’s Final Four include Kentucky (2,552 miles), Purdue (2,761 miles), Kansas (2,782 miles), UConn (2,800 miles), Creighton (2,884 miles) and Iowa State (2,934 miles).  

Still, when it comes to proximity from first round to the Final Four, no CBB team has a shorter trip from point A to B than the Wildcats of Arizona, who kick off their quest for the school’s fifth Final Four in Salt Lake City on Thursday afternoon.  

Stick with BetArionza.com for the best Arizona sportsbook promos throughout March Madness.

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Christopher Boan is the lead writer at BetArizona.com after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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