March Madness: Ranking Each NCAA Tournament Region in 2023

While it's easy to view the men's NCAA Tournament as a full field of 68 teams, before there is any intertwining, we're really looking at four separate groups of 17 teams.

Not a lot of analysis is dedicated to region-specific trends and data, but it is helpful.

How, then, does each region rank?

To find out, I'm using our nERD metric, which indicates a team's expected point differential over an average opponent on a neutral court.

The rankings are determined by a region's average nERD.

4. East Region

Average nERD: 8.88 (4th)
1 Seed nERD: 15.54 (3rd)
Top 4 Seeds Average nERD: 14.38 (4th)
Bottom 8 Seeds Average nERD: 5.32 (3rd)
Average nERD vs. Historical Seed Average: -0.91 (4th)

The weakest region in the tournament is the East, which is headlined by an overrated (i.e. overseeded) Purdue Boilermakers team that earned a 1 seed.

They're one of the weakest 1 seeds since the turn of the century, but they're not the only weak part of the region -- not by a long shot.

The top four seeds in this region, as a group are the weakest in the bracket, and the bottom eight seeds are not elite, either.

In addition to Purdue, we see the Marquette Golden Eagles (2 seed), the Kansas State Wildcats (3 seed), and the Duke Blue Devils (5 seed) make the list of the top-10 overseeded teams in the tournament.

Throw in two terrible 16 seeds for the play-in game (the Texas Southern Tigers and the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights), and it's not enough that the Tennessee Volunteers (4 seed) and the Florida Atlantic Owls (9 seed) are two of the five most undervalued teams in the tournament to rank this region anywhere but fourth.

3. South Region

Average nERD: 8.95 (3rd)
1 Seed nERD: 18.63 (1st)
Top 4 Seeds Average nERD: 14.43 (3rd)
Bottom 8 Seeds Average nERD: 5.23 (4th)
Average nERD vs. Historical Seed Average: -0.08 (2nd)

The South region (8.95) is not substantially better than the East by average nERD (8.88), and that's despite having the best 1 seed in the tournament, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The vastly overrated Virginia Cavaliers (4 seed) and Missouri Tigers (7 seed) more than cancel out the most undervalued team in the Big Dance, the Utah State Aggies (10 seed).

Also, only the Arizona Wildcats (2 seed) join the Crimson Tide in side numberFire's top-10 for the season. The Wildcats are ninth in our power rankings.

Alabama's easy draw is pushing them toward being the most popular pick to win it all, via ESPN's Who Picked Whom data.

2. Midwest Region

Average nERD: 9.51 (2nd)
1 Seed nERD: 18.23 (2nd)
Top 4 Seeds Average nERD: 14.62 (2nd)
Bottom 8 Seeds Average nERD: 6.63 (2nd)
Average nERD vs. Historical Seed Average: -0.35 (3rd)

A step up from the other two regions, the Midwest region has some good teams, including the Houston Cougars (1 seed) and the Texas Longhorns (2 seed).

This region is not without its overrated teams (the Xavier Musketeers [3 seed], the Indiana Hoosiers [4 seed], and the Miami (FL) Hurricanes [5 seed]), but it's balanced otherwise.

A lot of the growth comes at the bottom of the bracket, with the Northern Kentucky Norse (16 seed) and the Kent State Golden Flashes (13 seed) rating as the strongest teams at their respective seeds, and the Colgate Raiders (15 seed) are a good squad, too.

1. West Region

Average nERD: 11.28 (1st)
1 Seed nERD: 15.34 (4th)
Top 4 Seeds Average nERD: 16.28 (1st)
Bottom 8 Seeds Average nERD: 8.51 (1st)
Average nERD vs. Historical Seed Average: +0.17 (1st)

This is virtually the inverse of the South region, which has a great 1 seed and a lack of depth.

Instead, the West region has the weakest 1 seed in the tournament but the best average nERD by a comfortable margin. That is seen in the top four and in the bottom eight of the region.

Of the 10 most underrated teams in the tournament, four of them come from the West, and that's while cutting out the 13 seed (the Iona Gaels) from the criteria used to determine those squads.

The UCLA Bruins (2 seed), the Gonzaga Bulldogs (3 seed), the Connecticut Huskies (4 seed), Saint Mary's (CA) Gaels (5 seed), Arkansas Razorbacks (8 seed), and those 13-seeded Iona Gaels are all at least 1.08 points better than the historical team at those seeds.

With a vulnerable Kansas Jayhawks atop the region, the West seems the most wide open of any -- based on the advanced metrics.