fb-pixel

As sweet as a buzzer beater that hits nothing but net, perfection is the news in my 19th annual tracking of Graduation Success Rates for the Division 1 college basketball teams in March Madness. A record 19 schools had male black graduation rates of 100 percent and for the first time ever, more than half of the 68-team field had black graduation rates of 80 percent or higher.

Proving that perfection on the court and in the classroom can coexist, many top and second-seeded teams were in this number, including Kansas, Villanova, North Carolina and Xavier. The number of teams I would disqualify for having black or white graduation rates under 50 percent shrunk to a new low of 13 teams, with the worst one being Connecticut at 20 percent. The only other New England men’s team in the tournament, Holy Cross, was 100 percent for all players.

Advertisement



For the women, 45 of their 60 teams with black scholarship players had black graduation rates of 80 percent or higher. Unlike the Connecticut men’s team, which was banned from the 2013 tournament for low graduation rates and is still clearly suffering a hangover, the female Huskies should get one of the biggest cheers of all.

The program, which has won 10 championships since 1995, and is going on an unprecedented fourth women’s championship in a row, had a perfect Graduation Success Rate for the whole team and a 95 percent average over the last decade. The Connecticut women, playing some of the best ball ever seen in the sport, eliminate any excuse for failing to graduate players.

Derrick Z. Jackson is a Globe columnist and a climate and energy fellow with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He can be reached at jackson@globe.com.