Thursday, March 18, 2010

March Madness

If you've been reading this blog since the start (March 2008), then you know that I'm a diehard duke basketball fan and that March is my favorite month of the year. I live and breathe basketball at this time of year, and for a good reason.

The Big Dance!

Bosses, get prepared for a slowdown in the office, because the Men's NCAA Tournament begins today. My work finally wised up and blocked access to the streaming video of the games last year.

It's traditional to fill out brackets and pick the winners of each of the games, all the way up to the championship game. Even our nation's most famous basketball fan, President Barack Obama (whose brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, is the head coach at Oregon State) has released his bracket. Despite a personal assistant (Reggie Love) who played at Duke, the President has failed to choose my boys as a Final Four team again, even though they're a 1 seed.

Obama's picks for the Final four are Kentucky, Kansas, Kansas State, and Villanova. But if his education secretary had his way, his pick to win it all -- Kentucky -- wouldn't even be there. (As a Duke fan, that cracks me up.)

Arne Duncan has made headlines for calling for the the NCAA to ban post-season play for all schools that fail to graduate at least 40% of their student athletes. Under his plan, 12 teams with poor four-year average graduation rates would miss this year’s men’s basketball tournament:

Baylor University (36 percent)
Clemson University (37 percent)
Georgia Institute of Technology (38 percent)
New Mexico State University (36 percent)
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (29 percent)
University of California at Berkeley (20 percent)
University of Kentucky (31 percent)
University of Louisville (38 percent)
University of Maryland at College Park (8 percent)
University of Missouri at Columbia (36 percent)
University of Tennessee at Knoxville (30 percent)
University of Washington (29 percent)

As a girl who bleeds Duke Blue, the idea of Kentucky or Maryland not making it because of piss-poor graduation rates makes me chuckle. (We have long-standing rivalries with both those teams...not as long as our rivalry with UNC, but let's just say that I told my baby that she can go wherever she wants for college, as long as it's not UNC, UCONN, Kentucky, or Maryland.)

I'm proud to point out that Duke's four-year graduation rate is 97%. :) Go Devils!

Obviously Arne Duncan has no power to force the NCAA to adopt it, but it's clear he wants to put more of an emphasis on the "student" part of "student-athlete."

So what do you think of this plan? Who are your rooting for in the tourney? Have you finished your bracket yet?

(I should point out that my 3-month-old has even picked her own bracket. I read the names of the matchups out loud to her and whichever team she smiled or giggled at -- or at least didn't cry at -- was the one she chose to win that game.)


  1. this may be the end of our friendship as we know it...but I hate Duke and I have since Christian Laetner. Sorry. So it thrills me to say that in all of my brackets, I have them going to the finals and getting beat. Because that's how I roll.

    I'm rooting for Vandy this year. My poor Razorbacks just couldn't hold it together after a great start to the season.

    I hope my confession isn't the end of us as we know it...

  2. I cry to see my hometown Cardinals on that list. Can I try to take some comfort from knowing that at least they did 7% better than UK?

  3. I have no real problem with that, except that the graduation rates also reflect the success of the programs to an extent. By that I mean that I wonder how many of those non-graduating athletes leave school early to pursue pro careers. Some of them go back to school, some never bother. It'd be interesting to see the numbers adjusted for that.

  4. While I do think that the student part of student-athlete should get a lot more emphasis, I absolutely, positively have zero interest in March Madness. But I loathe basketball in general, so I'm no help there.

  5. Wow, all of that went over my head. haha. I know nothing about basketball.

  6. Amanda Brice2:50 AM

    Sucks to be you, Mel. Buh-bye, Vandy...

  7. Joining Rhonda, Kristen, and Chrissy on the clueless couch.