Crowning The SALT Blog’s March Madness Champion

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Jimmer Fredette shooting a layup.

We’re not too late for Jimmermania, right?

College basketball is by far my favorite sport, and the tournament is my favorite event of the year. (Let’s not mention that I’ll be working during the games today and tomorrow. I could write 10 blog posts about how to follow the games at work, but that won’t lead to anything productive.)

Last year, I wrote about the madness, and I did it big—creating my own money-savvy, SALT™-centric metric to fill out a bracket: JAM Score. The post was one of my most read, and ESPN’s resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi even retweeted my tweet about it.

So, would we retire the JAM Score after its one shining moment and move on? Of course not! Hit the music, Quad City DJs! LET’S JAM!

***

First, a quick refresh on the JAM Score. (For a full explanation, check out last year’s post).

The acronym (although it may be a “backcronym”) stands for “Jubilations Adjusted for Money.” Basically, it identifies the schools that give their students the most to cheer about—thanks to good basketball play and great college prices.

To win our championship, tuition and financial aid grants matter just as much as a team’s skills. If all were fair in the world, we’d totally take home Warren Buffet’s $1 billion with our effort.

The Results

Last year, our bracket featured 16 seeds advancing and crazy upsets. This year, things look a little tamer. Sure, a 10 seed defeats a 12 seed in our championship game, but some early round outcomes make sense. Schools across the nation must have been working hard all year to improve their JAM Score, I can only assume.

You can find our complete bracket here, but let’s dig into some highlights:

This Year’s JAM Score Champs Are …

The BYU Cougars! Their fans cheered their squad to eight wins over RPI top-100 foes while paying the lowest tuition of any school in this year’s field.

Sure, the team lost one of its star players (Kyle Collinsworth) to a season-ending injury, but JAM Score thinks they rally together and roll through this tournament. (Money-saving advice: Don’t use JAM Score’s advice if there’s money on the line. Not that you’d wager on the tourney or anything.)

Shocking The World … Almost

Wichita State has the most wins in the country and is riding a perfect season. Unfortunately, only Weber State gives out less average aid than Wichita State (WSU and WSU!). If not for that, the Shockers would have easily taken the top spot in the rankings.    

Poor Cal Poly

They finished last in our ranking. On the bright side, they had a better JAM Score than my alma mater, Boston College (I ran the numbers on that one). And their coach never did this. So, that’s a win.

A Happy Editor

I’m sure Ryan eagerly awaited the arrival of this post, and he was rewarded, seeing his Syracuse Orange take advantage of the weak South Region and head to the Final Four. (Editor’s note: Onions! Even the JAM Score doesn’t know what to do with the two-three zone!)

Big State Schools Underperformed

Tennessee, Oregon, Texas, Iowa, Michigan State, and others scored well below where you might think. Winning big games couldn’t offset high out-of-state tuition prices.

For many people, the best way to score great hoops and save money is by staying in-state. If I had used in-state tuition figures, I think Florida’s score might have broken my computer.

How About Harvard!

The highest amount of average financial aid (for the second straight year) pushed them to the second highest JAM Score and the National Championship game. Not to mention, I’ve heard it’s a pretty good school.

The Superlatives

  • Highest tuition and fees: Duke ($59,520)
  • Lowest tuition and fees:  BYU ($17,470)
  • Most average aid given: Harvard ($46,051)
  • Least average aid given: Weber State ($3,984)
  • Most wins: Wichita State (33)
  • Most wins vs. RPI Top 100: Kansas (18)

Here’s a complete look at all the numbers that went into JAM Score this year.

Name Wins Vs. Top 100 Tuition Aid JAM

1

BYU

22

8

$17,470

$6,103

263.92

2

Harvard

25

2

$57,050

$46,051

245.48

3

Iowa State

26

15

$31,032

$11,945

214.81

4

Wichita State

33

10

$24,631

$4,303

211.53

5

Creighton

26

14

$46,776

$27,820

211.01

6

Duke

26

12

$59,528

$40,561

200.35

7

Oklahoma

23

11

$34,927

$17,103

190.75

8

Manhattan

25

5

$48,335

$32,479

189.20

9

Mercer

23

1

$47,033

$34,221

187.32

10

Syracuse

27

12

$55,600

$34,700

186.60

11

Villanova

28

16

$56,583

$32,848

185.38

12

Kentucky

24

14

$33,148

$11,150

172.74

13

Stanford

21

7

$58,846

$42,514

171.44

14

North Dakota State

22

3

$29,203

$14,473

169.72

15

George Washington

24

11

$58,985

$38,313

169.31

16

Arizona

30

16

$40,925

$12,526

161.98

17

NC Central

26

1

$28,569

$11,865

161.64

18

Florida

31

16

$42,290

$13,093

160.98

19

Gonzaga

27

10

$46,615

$23,576

160.60

20

Kansas

24

18

$35,404

$8,716

157.37

21

U Mass

24

13

$39,167

$14,197

148.18

22

Western Michigan

22

8

$35,976

$15,353

145.47

23

Baylor

22

12

$49,038

$25,587

144.98

24

New Mexico

27

7

$33,712

$9,905

142.82

25

Oklahoma State

21

8

$33,617

$13,103

141.37

26

Ohio State

25

13

$40,327

$13,115

139.64

27

Kansas State

20

9

$32,498

$11,707

139.48

28

Colorado

23

8

$49,750

$27,132

137.06

29

Dayton

23

10

$46,250

$22,149

136.92

30

Virginia

27

12

$51,337

$22,702

136.20

31

Louisville

29

9

$35,856

$7,863

135.75

32

VCU

26

12

$39,628

$11,277

134.03

33

San Diego State

27

6

$35,671

$10,400

130.58

34

Michigan

25

15

$51,976

$21,255

130.20

35

NC State

21

6

$33,809

$12,880

129.01

36

Arizona State

21

8

$36,254

$13,755

128.89

37

Stephen F. Austin

27

1

$32,769

$10,764

127.24

38

St. Louis

25

9

$53,448

$26,644

126.85

39

Nebraska

19

8

$34,450

$13,076

126.32

40

New Mexico State

25

3

$32,132

$9,463

123.52

41

UNC

23

11

$43,847

$16,014

122.16

42

Providence

23

8

$56,402

$29,685

116.03

43

Louisiana-Lafayette

20

2

$27,067

$8,073

115.83

44

Tulsa

21

6

$48,803

$25,426

115.50

45

Wisconsin

26

12

$40,012

$6,961

114.97

46

Xavier

20

9

$45,080

$19,820

114.81

47

UCLA

26

11

$54,810

$22,560

114.73

48

U Conn

26

10

$43,954

$12,086

112.97

49

Pittsburgh

25

7

$40,404

$12,039

112.82

50

Michigan State

25

11

$43,986

$11,718

111.57

51

Eastern Kentucky

22

2

$27,548

$5,920

110.97

52

St. Joe’s

23

9

$53,130

$24,005

109.87

53

Cincinnati

27

9

$42,238

$9,167

108.86

54

Memphis

22

6

$37,525

$9,840

101.14

55

Oregon

23

9

$42,720

$10,616

99.68

56

Texas

23

12

$48,730

$12,525

96.67

57

Iowa

19

7

$40,054

$13,020

96.18

58

Delaware

25

1

$41,830

$14,427

94.88

59

Mount St. Mary’s

16

0

$40,800

$23,861

94.46

60

Albany

18

0

$29,326

$9,960

92.95

61

Tennessee

20

7

$43,236

$12,866

88.90

62

Milwaukee

20

2

$32,432

$7,224

87.27

63

American

20

2

$55,353

$29,923

86.51

64

Wofford

17

0

$48,129

$27,554

82.62

65

Weber State

17

0

$27,118

$3,984

73.48

66

Coastal Carolina

18

0

$34,727

$9,685

71.88

67

Texas Southern

18

0

$33,566

$7,110

68.04

68

Cal Poly

11

0

$35,548

$9,763

42.66

All the tuition data used was found on the Institute of Education Science’s College Navigator site and all financial aid figures were found on The College Board’s website. 

We’ll keep track of how Shane’s bracket does in the comments, so be sure to check back!

(Photo: Wikimedia)

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