Bad News for High Salary and Seed Schools in NCAA Basketball Tourney

In the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, the power of university alumni salaries (pay of graduates with 5 to 15 years of experience) to predict the outcome of basketball games finally waned.

The PayScale bracket picks, when adjusted for the first round outcomes, only predicted 9 out of 16 games correctly. This is basically the same as tossing a coin.

The seeding committee did better: the higher seeded team won 13 out of 16 second round games.

However, we discovered a new pattern in the data: high seed and high alumni salaries appear to be a bad combination in NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

What does this mean for which universities will make the final 4? Read on...

Are you overpaid and underachieving like a Duke University ($96,800), or underpaid and overachieving like Western Kentucky University ($48,800)? Find out with the PayScale salary survey.

High Alumni Salaries + High Seed = Tourney Exit

What do Duke, Georgetown, and Vanderbilt universities have in common? High-earning alumni, a high seed, and an early exit from the NCAA Div. I men’s basketball tournament.

When it comes to alumni salaries, the teams which made the sweet 16 are not much different from the 65 who started the tournament. The average of alumni salaries for the 16 remaining schools is $71,600 per year vs. an average of $69,100 for all 65 schools. The difference is a scant 3.6%, which is not statistically meaningful.

However, our analysis of the 1 to 4 seeds that did not make it to the Sweet 16 (Connecticut, Duke, Georgetown, Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt), reveals a startling pattern: the average of these schools’ graduates’ salaries is $82,800, more than $10,000 above the average of the schools that did survive the first weekend.

Duke (2 seed, $96,800), Georgetown (2 seed, $92,500) and Vanderbilt (4 seed, $83,400), have particularly well-heeled alumni, with median salaries in the top 8 of all 65 schools, and are all out.

If this pattern holds up - high pay + high seed = tourney exit - which schools are at risk to not make the final 4?

Stanford University (3 seed, $113,000), UCLA (1 seed, $86,600) and University of Texas (2 seed, $83,400) all have alumni who earn well above the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament average; these should be the next high seed and high pay schools to fall.

Which school is a good bet to go all the way? I am putting my money on Michigan State (5 seed, $68,900), since its median alumni salary is closest to the tournament average. :-)

Is your salary "typical" for graduates of your university, or do you need to consider another job, or even a new career? The PayScale Salary Calculator is a quick and easy way to compare positions. When you want powerful salary data and comparisons customized for your exact position, be sure to build a complete profile by taking PayScale's full salary survey.


Al Lee


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