The All-Academic Men's Tournament Bracket

Our annual look at who would win the NCAA's Division I men's basketball tournament if academics trumped athletic skill.

March 13, 2017

The National Collegiate Athletic Association took a major step this year toward recognizing the importance of academic performance by voting to allocate, for the first time, millions of dollars based on how teams fare in the classroom.

The NCAA has nothing on Inside Higher Ed, however. Since 2006, we have determined the winner of the NCAA's basketball tournaments based on the academic performance of the competing teams.

Introducing the 2017 Academic Performance Tournament, Inside Higher Ed's annual look at who would win the NCAA men's (and later this week, the women's) Division I basketball tournament if cognitive skills, not jump shots and vertical leap, won the day.

Here's how it works: to determine the winners of each game in the tournament, we compare the academic performance of teams, as measured by the NCAA's own -- admittedly less-than-perfect -- metrics for judging academic success. We first look to the academic progress rate, the NCAA's multiyear measure of a team's classroom performance. (Among other things, the APR excludes athletes who leave in good academic standing, so institutions where players tend to go pro early can still fare well on the measure.)

When two teams tie, we turn to the NCAA's graduation success rate, which measures the proportion of athletes on track to graduate within six years. In the event of a GSR tie, we then turn to the federal graduation rate, a different formula that the government uses to track graduation rates.

Click here to see who emerges the winner of this year's Academic Performance Tournament. And as always, fun as it is, we don't recommend using Inside Higher Ed's bracket as the basis for your office pool.

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Doug Lederman

Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He helps lead the news organization's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives with his wife, Kate Scharff, in Bethesda, Md.

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