March 16, 2010
The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament can be a frustrating experience for fans trying to predict the 65-team bracket. With 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 different combinations of results for predicting a perfect bracket (according to mathematicians), it's far from an exact science.
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida has recently released their study of the Graduation Success Rates of the men's tournament-bound teams. The annual report is based on graduation rates of basketball players as they are reported by the NCAA.
Read: "Keeping Score Where it Counts: Graduation Rates for the 2010 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament Teams"
For this bracket we decided to put shooting, rebounding and defense aside opting instead to choose teams in this year's tournament based on their Graduation Success Rates (GSR). And, where necessary, we used the Academic Progress Rates (APR) to break any ties. As one would expect, the results look much different than a typical bracket filled out by an actual college basketball fan with both an understanding of the game and of the teams playing.
While a No. 16-seed has never defeated a No. 1-seed in the actual men's tournament, only one No. 1-seed (Duke) survives their first game based on our criteria. Want some more upsets? How about Ohio State being downed by the University of California, Santa Barbara, Sam Houston upsetting Baylor, Ohio beating Georgetown, all in the first round?
Purdue's GSR of 64% wasn't enough to get by Siena (86%) in the opening matchup, but Butler's 90% GSR was enough to bypass both UTEP (71%) and Vanderbilt (85%) to advance to the Sweet 16 in this bracket. Vermont (92%), however, bested Butler in the Regional round.
In our tournament based on Graduation Success Rates, Lehigh, Brigham Young, Marquette and Notre Dame all make the Final Four. The title game matched Brigham Young against Notre Dame with the Cougars winning the 2010 NCAA Championship if the tournament was based on the GSR of the participating schools.
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