NCAA Basketball Bracket: The Winners by ACT and SAT Scores

College Admissions | SAT Prep | ACT Prep

It's the mostImage of a basketball lying on a wooden floor.jpeg wonderful time of the year! No, not the holidays. Nor spring. And no, not even St. Patrick's Day, the only day of the year that non-Spartans are likely to yell "Go Green!" back at me. It's better than all of those combined.

IT'S MARCH MADNESS, BABY! Said in my best Dickie V. voice, of course.

Have you ever wondered how the field of 64 teams in the NCAA basketball tournament would fare if ACT and SAT scores were the determining factor instead of basketball skills? No, of course you haven't.  Who in their right mind would waste time figuring that out? Yeeeeah, that would be me. No one ever said I was in my right mind, though, and that's especially true when my team takes the court in mid-March.

It's safe to say that the employees of PowerScore are pretty invested in college basketball, with our corporate office staff representing graduates and fans of Duke, Michigan State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida,  Florida State, Oregon, Alabama, Lipscomb, and the College of Charleston. And then factor in our hundreds of instructors across the nation who have graduated from top colleges, grad schools, business schools, and law schools, and it's plain to see we have some serious rivalries occurring each March. There have been surprisingly many Michigan State and Duke games in my decade and a half at PowerScore; given that my boss is a Duke grad, it's a wonder I still have a job. It might have something to do with the fact that Izzo has only won one of those. Sigh.

But anyway, to celebrate our favorite time of the year, I have created a bracket in which the schools that advance have the highest accepted applicant average ACT and SAT scores. These are the averages for all accepted applicants--not just the scores of the basketball players themselves. After each school's name in parenthesis is the average ACT score followed by the average SAT score.

Can you guess the winner?

ACT and SAT Bracket 2.png

It's Duke, if you can't read that small print. Yep, Duke.  Hard to beat them on the court and in the classroom. If you'd like to check out the bracket more closely, we've posted it here as a PDF with zoom capabilities. You might be surprised at some of those averages. Who knew Florida State and Ohio State were so selective?

NOTE: These averages are mostly based on the "mid-range test scores" of admitted applicants, provided at the Big Future College Search by College Board. A few universities did not report to the CB, so I either found their averages on their admissions websites or through third party websites that collect and publish college data.

In nearly all games, both the ACT and SAT scores of one school are higher than the scores of the other. In the event of a tie for one score, I used the second score as a tie breaker. For example, both Houston and San Diego State have a 25.5 average ACT score, but Houston's SAT average is 1215, which is 30 points higher than San Diego State's average SAT score, so Houston advances.

There were only two games in the entire tournament in which one school has a higher ACT average but the other school has a higher SAT average: Florida vs UCLA and Duke vs Penn. In both cases, the scores are so similar that even with an ACT/SAT conversion chart, it's impossible to say which university has the more difficult admission requirement. So for both of these games, I went with the higher seeded team (based on basketball skills and expectations). This eliminates #11 UCLA, which would have eventually been beaten by Villanova's test scores anyway, and it eliminates #16 Penn, which was a contender for National Champion, as Duke eventually wins the entire tournament. It can certainly be disputed. And it's probably unfair. But I'm not a scientist nor data analyst, so forgive me and take it up with your alma mater for not having consistent ACT/SAT conversions. Remember, my boss is a Blue Devil, a fan of a team that has repeatedly beat up on my Spartans, so I would have tossed it Penn's direction if I could have found a way to do so without it jeopardizing my livelihood.


Questions? Suggestions? Hate mail because your team didn't advance?  Shoot me an email!


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