Count on Mother Jones to take some of the fun out of the NCAA basketball tournament.
One week in, most basketball fans or once-a-year observers have had their brackets destroyed by first weekend upsets. But Mother Jones, the unabashed left-wing magazine published out of San Francisco, thought it might be a kick to consider how the schools in the tournament compare in terms outside of the game of basketball itself.
For instance, Mother Jones published on Twitter and Facebook a completely filed out bracket declaring winners in each game based on the amount of money they spend on women’s sports in comparison to men’s sports. The magazine used data received from the federal Department of Education to determine the winners.
All of the schools which received No. 1 seeds in the “basketball’ tournament were eliminated immediately in the Women’s Spending competition, although the Round of 16, in this case perhaps better known as the “Less Sexist 16”, included Michigan from the Big Ten, with 44 percent of the amount spent on men’s sports being spent on women’s sports. The rest of the Sweet 16 included schools with less predominant men’s programs, and many of them were schools without football teams, which skews the bracket severely.
Among the 64 schools in the initial NCAA bracket, the school with the lowest ratio between men’s and women’s spending was Oklahoma State, at 23 percent for women to 100 percent for men. Among the BCS schools that play top level football, Stanford had the best percentage for women at 63 percent.
The final in the “Spending on Women’’ tournament turned out to be two schools from the Washington, D.C. area and they were the only two schools among the NCAA basketball tournament qualifiers to spend more on women then on men. In the final, American University (116.9) edged out George Washington University (116) in a very close contest.
The Women’s Spending bracket was unfair for the football-playing schools, so Mother Jones decided to “play” a tournament based on total athletic revenue.
There are no Cinderella stories in this tournament. By the Sweet Sixteen round all of the smaller schools were eliminated and the Big Ten had four teams in the group. It would have had five, but Michigan ($123 million) was eliminated in the Round of 32 by Texas ($166 million), which happened to be one of three schools advancing from the football-insane Big 12 (joining Oklahoma and Oklahoma State).
Three Pac-12 teams (Stanford, Oregon, Arizona) were eliminated in the Round of 32 of Athletic Spending and only UCLA got through to the Sweet 16.
In the tournament semifinals, Wisconsin ($146 million) eliminated Florida ($130 million) and Texas topped Virginia ($84 million in a very weak regional, from a spending standpoint). Thus, Texas and its $166 million won the title as the school in the NCAA basketball tournament that spends the most money on athletics.
Finally, as a way to make fun of the school’s that spend so much money, Mother Jones calculated the tournament based on the amount of money spent on basketball divided by victories this season, and gave victories to the teams that spent the least per win.
This was obviously a turnaround from the previous tournament, and the thriftiest school was North Carolina Central, which spent $34,000 per win this season to defeat Stephen F. Austin, which splurged by spending $38,000 per victory this season.
First round losers in the Thrift competition were Ohio State ($751,000 per victory), Kentucky ($570,000 per victory) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee ($592,000 per victory). Louisville and Oklahoma State also spent more than $500,000 per win this season.