Graduation Success Rates in the Sweet Sixteen

Now that the field of 64 has been pared down to the Sweet Sixteen for both the men and the women, VandyMania has decided to follow up on Monday's story about the correlation between NCAA graduation rates and athletic success by comparing it to the numbers for the surviving teams in the 2008 Tournament.

On the men's side of the bracket, five of the remaining teams—Stanford University, UCLA, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Wisconsin, and University of Texas-Austin—are ranked among the U.S. News & World Report's (USNWR) Top-50 colleges and universities for 2008.

With the NCAA's national average for its member schools' graduation success rate (GSR) being 76 percent, three of the above-mentioned schools have GSRs that meet or exceed this standard. However, four schools not ranked in the USNWR's top-50 also boast above-average GSRs for their student athletes, led by Davidson College at 96 percent and Villanova University at 94 percent.

On the women's side, five schools are ranked in the top-30 nationally, all of which boast exemplary GSRs. Four other survivors in the women's tournament also have excellent GSRs in relation to the national mean.

Overall, half of the 32 remaining teams make the extra effort in graduating their athletes, and those athletes have translated that success in the classroom to success on the hardwood. This is especially notable in the women's bracket, where all nine of the teams with high GSRs earned top-6 seeds in the tournament, led by top-seeded Connecticut and Maryland. These teams have managed to balance their academic commitments with their dominance on the basketball court that earned them these high seeds.

The men's bracket is slightly more convoluted—as it often is—with underdog teams Davidson and Villanova (10 and 12 seeds, respectively) making it to the Sweet Sixteen and also having great GSRs. But between the other five teams with above-average GSRs, the lowest seed among them is #5 Michigan State.

These data seem to point towards a correlation between academic and athletic success, as many of these schools are tournament regulars while continuing to graduate their athletes at a high level. These schools know what it takes to be successful, both in terms of their athletic departments and their student bodies in general.

When March Madness comes to a close in early April, try not to be surprised to find that many of the stars on the court are also stars in the classroom. These athletes know what it takes to be successful in every facet of life, which is why they will be deserving of raising the trophy while continuing towards the ultimate goal of earning their diplomas in the spring.

The Sweet 16 and the GSR- Men

School GSR USNWR
Ranking
Seed
Memphis 67% Not Ranked 1
Michigan St. 79% 71 5
Stanford 94% 4 3
Texas 74% 44 2
UCLA 73% 25 1
Western Kentucky 73% Not Ranked 12
Xavier 94% Not Ranked 3
West Virginia 68% Not Ranked 7
Davidson 96% Not Ranked 10
Wisconsin 78% 38 3
Villanova 94% Not Ranked 12
Kansas 70% 85 1
Tennessee 75% 96 2
Louisville 72% Not Ranked 3
Washington St. 72% 118 4
North Carolina 83% 28 1

Note: While this article used the US News & World Report's Top National Universities rankings, Davidson college (unranked in that list) is listed as #9 on their Top Liberal Arts Colleges rankings.

The Sweet 16 and the GSR- Women

School GSR USNWR
Ranking
Seed
Uconn 79% 64 1
Old Dominion 72% Not Ranked 5
George Washington 93% 54 6
Rutgers 75% 59 2
Maryland 78% 54 1
Vanderbilt 94% 19 4
Pitt 79% 59 6
Stanford 94% 4 2
North Carolina 83% 28 1
Louisville 72% Not Ranked 4
Oklahoma St. 73% Not Ranked 3
LSU 69% Not Ranked 2
Tennessee 75% 96 1
Notre Dame 98% 19 5
Duke 97% 8 3
Texas A&M 73% 62 2

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