As I’m watching Villanova come from behind on a court that is only a couple of miles from their campus (indeed, it was reported that Villanova played on this court four times this season), I am curious to know if distance is a big factor in the tournament. It is widely know that seeds and locations are chosen in part to minimize the travel distance of the top seeds. Since seed and travel distance are not independent, I would expect a large negative correlation between travel distance and victory likelihood. I would like to know exactly how overwhelming this statistic is.
I found a short paper by GIS people that attempt to answer this question by comparing seeds, RPIs, and distance traveled (as well as differences between these three measures) to determine if distance makes a difference. Not surprisingly, they find that seed and RPI matter most. But seed and RPI are proxies for distance traveled, so this doesn’t really answer my question. Link.
If you have the answers to any of these questions, please answer them in the comments!