We have a winner! The South Florida Bulls take the NCAA title! The eleventh seed out of the Stockton region won the tournament by dominating their region. Surprising? Only if you are focused on basketball. We’re focused on student success.

We’ve taken a look at this year’s NCAA men’s basketball bracket with an eye toward how the 68 teams selected for the tournament perform on student success. Our bracket is based on the Eduventures 2016 Student Success Ratings, which scores universities based on two major criteria: how they perform given their institutional circumstance, and how they have trended on both first-year retention and six-year graduation rates for traditional undergraduates over the last 10 years.

Our unique methodology allows us to look deeper than the overall absolute metrics of wins and losses to identify true performers who, sometimes surprisingly, beat the odds and sustain success. Isn’t that what a great basketball team does, too?

When you look at the men’s basketball bracket through this lens, you see powerhouses, Cinderella stories, and upsets in every region. Few of the top seeds make it past the first round. Many historically strong basketball schools show they are also becoming strong student success schools. And some plucky little institutions without the marquee players, or the marquee dollars, play a good game as well.

Let’s see how they did.

2017 Eduventures NCAA Student Success Tournament

In Bridgeport

  • Number three seed, Maryland beats up on all the competition, never having a close contest to win the region.
  • Last year’s women’s basketball champion Connecticut makes it to the Sweet Sixteen before being ousted by four seed UCLA in triple overtime.
  • Elon upsets West Virginia in the first round.

In Oklahoma City

  • The number one and two seeds, basketball powerhouses Baylor and Mississippi State, don’t make it out of the round of 32, losing to California and Depaul in upsets.
  • The loss of the top seeds left the door open for Tennessee and Washington.
  • High seeds dominate the region, with only one upset in the round of 64.

In Lexington

  • Top seed Notre Dame came out strong against Robert Morris but lost a close battle with Green Bay to bow out of the tournament early.
  • Belmont surprised Kentucky, but couldn’t raise its level enough to best a dominating performance by Ohio State, who runs roughshod over the region.
  • Six seed NC State makes it to the regional final, before meeting that Ohio State buzzsaw.

In Stockton

  • Michigan roared past Arizona StateSouth Carolina and Miami (FL), but ran into a wall when it met South Florida, who dominated the region.
  • Second seeded Oregon State disappointed against Long Beach State who surprised all the way to the Sweet 16.
  • Third seeded Florida State saw the end of their unfortunate draw when it ran into eventual region champion South Florida.

The Final Four

Maryland and South Florida take care of business in the national semifinal, comfortably defeating Tennessee and Ohio State, respectively.

Champion

But no team was ever going to beat South Florida. It just had a certain confidence about it marching through its draw. It was never tested in its region, and when it met the formidable Marylend, it maintained high performance and won a close contest.

In our book, that’s the kind of focus and fortitude all universities could use every day as they work on improving student success.

For more information about Eduventures Student Success Ratings, or to see how your own school or peers score, click here.

Eduventures NCAA Student Success Scorecard

Eduventures NCAA Student Success Scorecard

 

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