The clock is ticking on next year’s tournament ban for teams with poor graduation rates, but a stunning number of major powers are frozen in time, as if they are daring the National Collegiate Athletic Association to really kick them out of March Madness. In my annual alternative look at the long-term academic performance of Division 1 tournament teams, to be published in full later this week, 21 men's programs, the same number as last year, have African American player graduation success rates of below 50 percent. Repeat offenders are Connecticut, Syracuse, Florida, Nevada-Las Vegas, Michigan, Temple, Texas, and Kansas State.
On the positive side, there were three teams that I would have flunked out of last year’s tournament that raised their black and team graduation rates to at least 50 percent, roughly the level that the NCAA will begin requiring next year. To give credit where it is due, those schools are Missouri, Michigan State, and Kentucky.
If you want to watch the brainiest of basketball in the first round, you do not want to miss 100 percent Vanderbilt vs. 100 percent Harvard, nor 100 percent Notre Dame vs. 93 percent Xavier. If you want to watch programs that demonstrate through their black graduation rates that they couldn't care less, check out Connecticut (14 percent) vs Iowa State (29), and Florida (20) vs. Virginia (33).
And if you want to see achievement gaps between white and black players on single teams, in real time and living color, then you must get your popcorn for Florida, Iowa State, Wisconsin, New Mexico State, Virginia, Michigan, and Kansas State — all teams with racial gaps between 62 and 80 percentage points. Better catch them now, because under the tournament rules going into effect next year, some of those teams might not be back anytime soon.