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Who is the March Madness Champion for College Retention Ratings?

As the dust settles on the second weekend of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament, the Final Four is set. Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Duke will be headed to Indianapolis to compete for a National Championship. As you can imagine, we have a spirited office pool here at Eduventures. Unlike most other pools, however, those of us filling out our brackets are just as familiar with these schools’ off-the-court performance as we are with their basketball teams. In the spirit of March Madness, we developed our own bracket based on the 2015 Eduventures Retention Ratings. These ratings draw on a statistically predicted first-year, full time retention metric that estimates how a college should perform based on academic, social, environmental, and financial indicators. If a bracket were chosen based on retention performance, here is what it would look like: To develop our NCAA College Retention Tournament Bracket, we first re-ranked all of the colleges and universities in each region by their predicted retention metric from the Eduventures Retention Ratings (see the chart at the bottom of all of the rankings and retention ratings). Our top two seeds in each region were Harvard University, University of Notre Dame, University of Virginia, Duke University, Villanova University, North Carolina University, Northeastern University, and Georgetown University. Impressively, Duke University, Villanova University, and University of Virginia were top seeds both in our bracket and in the official NCAA Tournament bracket. Then, to determine a national champion in our NCAA College Retention Tournament, we had each team compete against the others based on its retention performance score, which is the difference between its predicted retention metric and actual first-year, full-time retention. We had some very interesting match-ups in each round and some retention powerhouses that were predicted to make deep runs in the tournament squared off in early rounds, sending one team packing early.
  • Second Round: In the South, Gonzaga faced a second-round buzzsaw as the Aztecs of San Diego State won in a heartbreaker (7.2% to 6.2%).
  • Third Round: In the East, Northern Iowa pulled out an upset win over Michigan State University in a nail-biter (5.0% to 4.8%).
  • Sweet Sixteen: In the West, Virginia Commonwealth University defeated an overmatched Wofford College, winning 5.6% to 4.9%.
  • Elite Eight: In the South, Robert Morris University edged out the University of Utah to survive the Group of Death region and head to the Final Four, winning 8.3% to 7.4%.
  • Final Four: In the Midwest, the University of Maryland coasted to a bid for the national championship with a big win over Georgia State University 8.9% to 6.4%.
  • National Champion: With an unbeatable retention rating, the University of California, Irvine, the clear favorite to win the national championship, defeated University of Maryland in a commanding victory (11.2% to 8.9%).
Congratulations to the University of California, Irvine, for being the first annual national champion in the Eduventures NCAA College Retention Tournament! Interestingly enough, only two teams, the University of Utah and North Carolina State University, made it to the sweet sixteen in our tournament and the NCAA Tournament, demonstrating just how difficult it is to have successful performance on- and off-the-court.


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