Karen’s Sweet 16 Bracket


Mar 25, 2013 Bully Pulpit 0 Comments

I’ve watched exactly 28 years of March Madness tournaments.  I try to be a good fan.  I get excited when the Blue Devils come close. I jump up and down when they win. I make lots of chili and avocado dip to keep the family room inviting.  I admire the uniforms and wonder about who buys the shoes.  I stare at the mothers in the stands and imagine how they feel.  Secretly I always want both teams to win because, hey, they are all just cute kids out there so full of hope and promise.  I do not hate Carolina.  I actually love Carolina as an institution and think of them as Duke’s brothers.  But beyond this sentimentality, I’m pretty useless as a hoops-watching partner, and I realize sitting here, that I’ve never once been invited to join a basketball pool. Yet, a strange thing happened to me this year.   I perked up wondering what these institutions of higher learning are really like. I saw many schools, often overlooked for their academic acumen, excelling in clearly the most popular part of college culture—March Madness Basketball.  I’ve become intrigued with these 64 teams, some famous—some obscure.  And for the first time in my life, I want to make a bracket. I purposefully waited until we were upon the Sweet 16 so that I wouldn’t have to deal with all 64 teams.  So, here are my predictions, based not on how quick the point guard is or how much swish the forward gets (is that a saying?)  My predictions are my own, based on the things I notice about schools.  Back at ya— Jay Bilas!!!!

Match Up #1:

University of Oregon vs University of Louisville

It’s going to come down to a battle between honors programs at these two schools. The University of Oregon is proud of the Robert D. Clark Honors College.  Participating in it boosts tuition an extra $3400/year.  Students take a core curriculum that promotes a broad based educational foundation in lieu of the university’s general education requirements.  This looks good! There is an honors building, Chapman Hall, where the classes are taught and where students can congregate. There is a big initiative to renovate Chapman Hall. In 2012, 180 honors freshmen moved into the brand new Global Scholars Hall. The honors college operates as a liberal arts college with 700 undergraduate students.  Honors classes are capped at 19 students and are taught by leading professors. Average SAT is 1340 (30 ACT.)  The honors college also provides students with service opportunities in Eugene and a summer reading program. Need-based financial aid and several merit awards are offered. The Robert D. Clark Honors College participates in the Western Undergraduate Exchange Scholarship program, which means that Colorado students (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming too!) get a reduced tuition that should equal 150% of resident tuition.

The University of Louisville requires a 28 on the ACT and a 3.5 GPA to be admitted to its honors program.  Average ACT is 30.5, and average GPA is 3.88. There is no extra tuition to join the Louisville program. Their honors classes are capped at 25 with an average of 18 students. Starting sophomore year, honors students can take honors seminars—which sometimes culminate in a subsidized weeklong trip. Past trips include a study of Broadway in New York, studying urban waterways while canoeing the Everglades, examining the filming sites that represent Middle Earth (whatever that is) in the Lord of the Rings in New Zealand, and an examination of environmental issues in China and Taiwan. General education classes, as well as many other classes in all different disciplines, can also be substituted with honors classes.  As a rule the honors classes are more discussion and writing based and are taught by the most outstanding professors at the university. One perk of the honors program is 4 years of housing offered in Therlkeld Hall, the honors dorm. It is said to also house the administration offices of the program and to enjoy a great centralized location on campus. Honors students get priority registration for classes—this is so important! There is also a professional mentoring program and also an active Honors Council, which promotes volunteering in the community as well as social and leadership activities.

The Winner:  Oregon moves on to the Elite 8!  It’ll be a close match up, because Louisville gets lots of points for its Honors Council and 4 years of guaranteed honors housing.  I think, though, that there’s more academic core structure at Oregon’s program, and I’m a sucker for the academics.


Match Up #2:

University of Arizona vs Ohio State

Ohio State has almost 43,000 undergraduate students.  The University of Arizona has almost 31,000 undergraduate students.  This contest will come down to how freshmen are housed to help them transition into these schools which are the size of small cities.
Ohio State has a First Year Experience for freshmen. Unfortunately it does not involve a great deal of programming throughout the year, beyond a Speakers Series, which, while good, invites only one speaker a year.  The highlight of the First Year Experience to me seems to be the pre-enrollment trips that are available to Ohio State’s newest students. Honors and Scholars Program students are invited to a 1- week outdoor adventure that includes hiking, climbing, canoeing, and zip-lining.  There’s a great-looking white water rafting, climbing, and camping trip, but only 35 spots are available to be divided up between over 10,000 freshmen?  Brick!!!   There’s a backpacking trip to the Adirondacks—but oops, it’s only open to honors and scholars program students.  There’s a sustainability trip and also Camp Buckeye, which is a fun summer camp experience for 60 students.  Freshmen do have lots of housing options on campus, which could make their transition to college nice.  Students can opt for interest communities.  The most appealing to me is the Freshman Year Collegian Living Community so that freshmen can live with other freshmen.

The University of Arizona has a nice way of organizing the housing options so that students can start the arduous process of discerning between the 23 residence halls by what factors matter to them.  A student can sort houses by number of students in them/ room and bathroom type/gender/featured communities/cost. The bad news is that housing isn’t guaranteed for anyone—even freshmen!  Incoming freshmen have to send a housing deposit by April 1 in order to guarantee it.  Yikes.

The winner of this low scoring game…. Ohio State!


Match Up #3:

University of Michigan vs University of Kansas


The University of Michigan is one of the most academically acclaimed public universities in the US.  The University of Kansas is not as famous for its academics, but it holds its own as a great research university.  Both schools are located in great college towns.  Both have lots of school spirit and good basketball.  At either you could find yourself in giant classes having to really eek out some face time with a professor—esp the first two years. So this one’s coming down to which one is a better bargain for out-of-state students.

University of Michigan: The 2013 cost-of-attendance will be $53,350.  UM claims to meet the demonstrated need of 90% of those with need.  They say that the average amount of need met is 90%.  46% of students without need get an average merit award of $5,400 according to CollegeData.com. But remember, these awards are mainly for in-state students.  Out-of-staters beware!!

University of Kansas: The 2013 cost-of-attendance for non-residents will be $32,834!  Cha-CHING!!!

Only 16% of students with need get their full need met. The average amount of need met is 60%. But don’t despair quite yet!  Kansas wants good students, and they put their money where their mouth is.

So…National Merit Finalists, National Achievement Finalists, National Hispanic Scholars—take an extra $10,000 off/year.  National Merit and National Achievement Semi-finalists, your award is $5,000/year.  Who knew?   Students with a 28 ACT/1250 SAT with a 3.5GPA…hello $9,675/year scholarship! Hey you with the 25 ACT/1130 SAT and a 3.5 GPA—take $6,000/year off.  And if you have a 24ACT/1090 SAT with a 3.75 GPA—you get $4000/year off. If you are a legacy, these awards are higher.



 Match Up #4: David meets Goliath   

University of Florida vs Florida Gulf Coast University

Only 24% of bachelor degree-seeking students at Florida Gulf Coast University finish their degree in 4 years; 45% finish in 6 years; and 50% finish in 8 years.  At the state flagship university, the University of Florida at Gainesville, which has almost 3 times as many students with an enrollment of 32,600, 59% of bachelor degree-seeking students graduate in 4 years; 83% graduate in 6 years; and 84% graduate in 8 years.

Florida Gulf Coast has a mid-range ACT of 20-23.  Perhaps the students aren’t as prepared for college as they are at UF where the mid-range ACT is 26-31. There are lots of reasons for this gap I’m sure.

In a surprise upset, Florida Gulf Coast wins this one despite the poor numbers.  They’ve only been around since 1991. I say that the University of Florida has more resources and more of a responsibility to lead the way in Florida to figure out how to get more kids graduating on time.  Their rate of 59% is still too low!


Match Up #5:

Syracuse University vs Indiana University

I’m going to be comparing the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse with the new School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University.

The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs is one of the leading graduate schools in international relations in the country.  The undergraduate major in IR and the minors in global political economy and global security studies are integral parts of the Maxwell School.  The major in international relations is interdisciplinary across anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science and sociology.  Students are encouraged to participate in one of Syracuse’s 8 study abroad programs or one of the 45 world partner programs that are approved by the university. The International Relations Learning Community is a residential community that sponsors lots of events to further their understanding of issues like hunger and child warriors and UNICEF.  They all share a seminar IR class together as well. Syracuse costs $55,600.  There are merit awards of up to $12,000/year for students who meet certain standards.  About 10% of incoming freshmen receive merit awards that average at about $9000.  Their mid-range ACT is 24-29 for admitted students.

In the fall of 2013 Indiana University is opening the School of Global and International Studies. IU has a long tradition of being a leader in IR, but now they are expanding the department into a school. The school will offer 4 majors, 9 minors and 3 certificate programs. Study abroad is also encouraged through 250 programs.  Some are IU administered—many others are run by different institutions. While there is no residential component of the SGIS, there are three living communities with a global focus that are open to all students at IU.  IU has costs $40,338 for non-residents.  Students with a 31 ACT and a 3.8 GPA get an automatic scholarship of $11,000/year.  Students with a 28 ACT and a 3.7 get an automatic $5000/year scholarship. The mid-range ACT is 26-31.  70% of enrolled students at IU were in the top quarter of their high school classes–nice peers there!

My winner is Indiana University. While Syracuse is strong with their study abroad program and also on the activities in place for IR students, I like IU’s options in choosing a major.  I also believe that since the school is new, there will be a lot of university energy directed its way, and I bet they end up with more student activities as the program grows.  The price of the IU education is a great deal for the offerings they have.


Match Up #6:

My alma mater Duke University vs Michigan State University

I’m sorry Sparty, but the Duke Blue Devil is going to kick your you-know-what. Sparty, the Michigan State mascot,  is kind of cute, but he looks more like a thoughtful intellectual stuck in a Spartan’s war helmet than a formidable athletic foe.  He has an admittedly nice physique, but his frown looks put on.  I think he’s an old softy at heart. He somehow reminds me of Ferdinand the Bull—not quite at peace with his role in life.  And he doesn’t look like he can jump.  Mr. Blue Devil, on the other hand, has a sly smile and a springy agility that shouts athleticism and good sportsmanship.  He once hugged me inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, and I will remain forever loyal to the devil with the blue dress on.

Here’s to Duke and the Blue and White—GO DEVILS!!!


Match Up #7:

Marquette University vs University of Miami

The University of Miami is known for its sunny beaches and sizzling nightlife. Students enjoy the sunny beaches of Miami in the day and the energy and excitement of the city at night. To socialize on weekend nights students go off campus to one of two areas.  Coconut Grove is about 10 minutes from campus.  It’s filled with shops, restaurants and bars and seems to be a little lower key than the famous South Beach. Celebrities are commonplace on South Beach, and Miami students dance right along side of them at many high priced clubs.  Fraternities and sororities socialize on campus too, but the real nightlife is off campus.

Marquette University is a Jesuit University located in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is known for its “cold one’s.”  That can mean a beer or a winter.  Because Marquette is in a sketchy part of Milwaukee, students rarely go off campus to party unless they take a cab to a safer neighborhood.  Fraternity and sorority life is important to campus, and there are parties on campus, but with Marquette’s tough drinking rules and a firmly entrenched religious system in place, the nightlife is not quite as robust at Marquette as it is at Miami.  The weather in the winter also tends to keep kids indoors in Milwaukee.

I’m a mom…I gotta pick Marquette!  Go have some cheese!


Match Up # 8:

Wichita State University VS La Salle University

In the most unlikely of Sweet 16 match ups, the 9th seeded Wichita State Shockers will face the 13th seeded La Salle Explorers. Cleanthony Early has been the leading scorer for the shockers all season and pulled off 16 points and 8 rebounds, all while coming off the bench, in the Shockers biggest shocker of all—their 76-70 win over #1 seed Gonzaga. Wichita State is one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and no one doubts their physicality, but they will need continued offensive production from Early, Ron Baker, Malcolm Armstead and Carl Hall.  La Salle will be relying on their guard Ramon Galloway who is a dead-eye from beyond the arc. Against Mississippi he scored 18 of his 24 points from 3-point land, and he better plan on a similar performance if La Salle is going to advance to the Elite 8. La Salle has to be ready to battle with Wichita on the boards and not let the Shockers out-muscle them down low.  This Cinderella story has to end for one of these teams…and it’s going to end for La Salle!

My pick (totally and 100% plagiarized from the bleacherreport.com) is WICHITA STATE!









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