Forget Kentucky... who would win the NCAA Tournament based on academics?

Willie Cauley-Stein Kentucky BasketballREUTERS / Randy Sartin-USA TODAY SportsKentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) dunks the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers.

We all know that Kentucky is the top pick to go all the way in the 2015 NCAA Tournament which kicks off this afternoon – but who would win if it came down to academics?

Education Week did just that, creating an academically-based bracket with the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) as the metric for choosing a winner. The APR scores are sourced from the 2015 report released by
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES).

The TIDES report uses four-year APR data ending in the 2012-13 school year, the most up-to-date data available on the NCAA website.

Screen Shot 2015 03 19 at 11.28.30 AMScreenshot Via Education WeekThe academic March Madness bracket as chosen by Education Week.

APR is “a term-by-term calculation of the eligibility and retention of all student-athletes. A score of a thousand means every student-athlete on that team stayed eligible and returned to school. You begin losing points for students who are not eligible and/or are not retained,” according to the NCAA website.

Using the APR scores, Belmont, with a perfect APR score of 1000, wins the 2015 tournament. Surprise upsets include Purdue’s loss to Kentucky in the Round of 32, and Duke’s loss to Utah and Harvard’s loss to Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen.

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