Post Academic

The geek’s March Madness, revisited

Posted in Absurdities by Arnold Pan on March 27, 2010
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Since we’re gearing up to watch the Elite Eight games to see who makes it to the Final Four, I wanted to revisit how our geek’s March Madness picks panned out.  Obviously enough, our choices aren’t going to help anyone win their pool–Kansas, BYU, Wake Forest, and Duke (the lone remaining contender)–though this group didn’t fare any worse than my actual picks.  And I still can’t figure out how Kansas let us down!

To make our picks, we used numbers from this poll conducted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, which accounted for graduation rates (GSR) and something called “Academic Progress Rate” (APR), along with a more subjective sense of academic reputation.  For all the details on our how we came up with our semi-academic measure for making our picks, go here; to see bracket-by-bracket analysis, go here and here, too.)

Here are how the Elite Eight fare, according to our academic power poll (listed alphabetically).  Note that the graduation rates among the eight teams is not stellar, though some of the programs are probably impacted by early entry by underclassmen in the NBA draft.  Also, an Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 925 or lower could put a program at risk of losing scholarships:

Baylor: 989 (out of 1000) APR / 36% GSR

Butler: 964 APR / 90% GSR

Duke: 989  APR / 92% GSR

Kansas State: 900 APR / 62% GSR

Kentucky: 979 APR / 31% GSR

Michigan State: 985 APR / 58% GSR

Tennessee: 924 APR / 30% GSR

West Virginia: 960 APR / 44% GSR

Have a good weekend watching the games!

“U.S. President Barack Obama picks his winners for the 2009 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament” by Pete Souza from Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, public domain

The geek’s version of March Madness, East and Southeast Regions

Posted in Absurdities by Arnold Pan on March 19, 2010
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Hope you enjoyed the first day of March Madness, which featured a pretty good number of nailbiters (sorry, Vandy fans) and more OT games in a single day than I can remember.  Just in case you don’t have an alma mater in the tourney or don’t have a rooting interest, we’re providing a handy guide on who you can pull for if you care about academics and graduation rates — and want a team that could win a few games.  (By the way, I’m 12 for 16 in my bracket, and winning the group I’m in!)  For the guidelines, go here.

East Bracket — Winner: Wake Forest

Summary: Lucky for us, Wake pulled out a great last-shot win in OT against U Texas, after trailing by 8 points with a few minutes left.  The team with a 963 Academic Progress Rate (APR) and 100% graduation rate (GSR) beat the highly esteemed and very large state university, which had a stronger 975 APR, but a lower 42% GSR (which was probably Kevin Durant’s fault for leaving after his frosh year).  The bracket’s other top contender, Marquette, with its 970 APR/100% GSR didn’t far so well, losing by 2 to U-Dub.  Interestingly, this bracket features a number of large state universities, some with very strong reputations that underachieve a bit in APR and GSR:

U Kentucky: 949 APR/31% GSR

U Wisconsin: 933 APR/78% GSR

U Washington: 956 APR/29% GSR

U New Mexico: 909 APR/43% GSR

Mizzou: 959 APR/36% GSR

Cornell is in this bracket and would be in the running, but I deem them ineligible for not providing any grad rate data.

Southeast Bracket — Winner: Duke (UGH!)

Summary: Let the hating begin, but it’s hard to deny that Duke enjoys a rare blend of academic reputation and basketball legacy–and snotty whining on the court.  The numbers don’t lie, either: 989 APR/92% GSR, and that’s with rosters with plenty of draftable underclassman talent.  You’d think it would be more of a walk here, but Notre Dame–the Duke of football–(982 APR/100% GSR) and Villanova (985 APR/92% GSR and maybe even more recent basketball success than Duke) give the Dukies a pretty good scare, actually.

Otherwise, the biggest surprise in this region is just how disappointing the mighty UC Berkeley is!  Perhaps the most academically accomplished school in the country can only muster a puny 944 APR/20%(!) GSR, bested by its first-round opponent Louisville with a 965 APR/38% GSR.

It’s not a good idea in any way to bet on a Kansas-BYU-Wake Forest-Duke Final Four (though KU and Duke are prime picks), but, if you do hit paydirt using the geek method, give us a cut, won’t you?  We’ll recap how the nerds did next week, and give you our Final Four picks then!

The geek’s version of March Madness, West Region

Posted in Absurdities by Arnold Pan on March 18, 2010
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On to the West regional, which should be of no small interest to some of our readers and one of the co-editors of Post Academic.  Again, here are the groundrules and methodology for our geek’s version of March Madness.  (For more of the intro, go here.)

1. Graduation Rates + Academic Progress Rate: Here are some interesting figures cited from this poll conducted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

2. Academic Reputation: This is a wholly subjective measure, but we do tend to know which schools are the nerdier ones.

3. Basketball Reputation: Just so it’s not a total geekfest, actual basketball seeding comes into play as a tie-breaker when needed.  Interestingly enough, some of the better basketball schools are also doing well with the statistical measures too.

West Bracket — Winner: BYU

Summary: Okay, I have to apologize to my co-contributor about this one, since BYU just edges out Vandy in the West bracket.  By our geek standards, the Elite Eight matchup between these schools is one of the best, but BYU is just too strong in the measurable data.  In fact, BYU might have the best academic team in the tourney: 991 Academic Progress Rate (APR)/100% grad rate (GSR).  Vanderbilt is no slouch, either, at 975 APR/85% GSR, not bad for a SEC school–and crushes in-state rival Tennessee in the bargain, so there’s that.

There’s nothing so flagrantly bad, academically speaking, in this region as in the Midwest.  Most of the big schools with strong athletic programs do pretty well, though not exactly great either–and a few like Florida State and Kansas State have spotty histories with NCAA infractions:

Syracuse: 932 APR/55% GSR

Pitt: 965 APR/75% GSR

U Florida: 950 APR/60% GSR

Florida State: 933 APR/80% GSR

Kansas State: 900 APR/62% GSR

U Minnesota: 930 APR/44% GSR

It’s also interesting, from a basketball standpoint, how many of yesteryear’s “mid-major” darlings are in this bracket.  They fare pretty well academically too:

Gonzaga: 975 APR/78% GSR

Butler: 964 APR/90% GSR

Xavier: 976 APR/89% GSR

Up next, the East regional…