Which Region Is Best in This Year's NCAA Tournament?

With the NCAA Tournament set, which region of the bracket looks toughest?

Teams and coaches always say they want to go through a tough battle prior to winning a championship. But let's be real for a second: they don't.

Do you think Roy Williams and his Tar Heels are sitting back thinking, "Man, I really wish we could play Kansas, Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Oregon before competing in the championship."? Of course not. He loves the fact that his team drew a 1 seed and gets to face either Florida Gulf Coast or Fairleigh Dickinson in the Round of 64.

They just want to win. It doesn't matter how that happens.

The thing is, sometimes one of the biggest factors in the path to a championship is luck. Sometimes, in the NCAA Tournament, playing in a weaker region is the reason a team is able to find success.

Which teams were lucky this year?

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Ranking the Regions

If you're unfamiliar with some of our college hoops statistics, allow me to explain our signature metric, nERD. Quite simply, nERD shows how many points we'd expect a team to win by against an average one on a neutral court. So, if a team has a nERD of 11.94, we'd expect them to beat an ordinary team -- a team with a 0.00 nERD -- by about 12 points. A team with a -3.45 nERD, then, would be below average.

This gives us a clean number to work with -- we'll use it to mathematically tell which region is indeed the best (or the worst).

Here's a look at the average nERD score per region (keep in mind, for First Four games, I simply took the average of the two teams facing off to compile one nERD rating):

Region 1 Seed Average nERD
South Kansas 10.37
East North Carolina 10.24
Midwest Virginia 10.08
West Oregon 9.46

So, according to our numbers, the best region -- at least in terms of nERD -- is the South. 

It'd be boring to just stop there and not have anything super actionable for you, the reader, though. After all, you're trying to win your bracket, right? So instead of just looking at the average nERD scores across all teams, let's break things up a bit by seed.

Region All 1 to 4 5 to 8 9 to 12 13 to 16
East 10.24 17.13 11.86 8.59 3.40
Midwest 10.08 15.85 11.92 10.59 1.99
South 10.37 16.45 13.16 9.62 2.26
West 9.46 15.58 10.77 9.61 1.88

What really sets the South apart from the other regions in the bracket is that it's consistently good from top to bottom -- it's not as though the top four seeds are skewing the data. In fact, the South doesn't rank worse than second best in any of the seeded tiers above, meaning it's pretty strong throughout.

One other tidbit to note in the table above is how weak the West is. That could open things up a lot for a team like Oklahoma, or perhaps even a lower-seeded team looking to make a Cinderella run.