Tip-Off … The NCAA Tournament By Dollars Raised

March 17, 2015       Mark Hrywna      

Follow The NonProfit Times this month as we take a closer look at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from a different perspective. In our bracket, teams will advance to the next round based on their fundraising prowess, according to Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey by the Council on Aid to Education (CAE):

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National Championship – April 6
No. 1 Duke University
No. 13 Harvard University
Now that we’ve come to the final matchup, it’s really not much of a surprise which school would come out on top in the end. The tournament was dominated by research and medical schools, and with only one Ivy in the tourney, it was almost a foregone conclusion. Harvard raised $1.155 billion last year, easily the most of any of the 68 schools in this year’s NCAA tournament, including Duke and its reported $437.381 million. In September 2013, Harvard launched a capital campaign with a goal of raising $6.5 billion by 2018 — that would be a record, surpassing $6.2 billion raised over five years by Stanford, which ended in 2012 (and did not make this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament). Three of the schools in our Fundraising Final Four were among the top 20 nationally, including schools not in the tournament. Only Virginia was a bit of an outlier, managing to make it into the Final Four despite being ranked about 10th by fundraising among the 68 schools in the tournament.

FINAL FOUR – April 4
No. 1 Duke University
No. 2 University of Virginia
Duke is the only No. 1 seed to make the Fundraising Final Four. The Durham, N.C. school is in the midst of a comprehensive campaign to raise $3.25 billion by June 2017, to advance priorities across 10 schools. A third of it will add permanent funding to the endowment. The campaign was officially was announced in September 2012, after raising $1.325 billion in planning phase, and last year Duke raised $437.381 million. That figure is enough to get past Virginia and its $223.8 million and get reach the final.

No. 13 Harvard University
No. 11 University of Texas-Austin
Two double-digit seeds meeting in the Final Four would be pretty unlikely on the basketball court, but this tournament will be settled in the development office. “The Campaign for Texas…” concluded last fall, exceeding its $3 billion goal after eight years by $856 million. Last year, Texas raised $529.391 million, which normally would be a safe bet to advance, but not when you run into Harvard and the $1.115 billion raised.

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It’s time to cut down the nets, the Fundraising Final Four field has been determined!

Regional Final – March 29
East Region
No. 8 North Carolina State University
No. 2 University of Virginia
Fresh off the Campaign for the University of Virginia, which exceeded a $3-billion goal during its 2006-2013 run, the Cavaliers earn a spot in our Fundraising Final Four, raising $223.8 million last year. N.C. State had a great run, advancing to the Regional Final behind $117.534 million raised, thanks to some favorable matchups. Its closest pairing was in the first round against LSU ($110.644 million).

South Region
No. 1 Duke University
No. 11 UCLA
Two storied basketball programs and two impressive fundraising operations. This is the closest pairing among teams seeking a berth in the Final Four and one of the closest games in a few rounds. UCLA raised $430.275 million, which you would think would be enough to advance, but they run into Duke, which reported $437.381 million — advancing to the Final Four by a mere $7 million, and the only No. 1 seed to do so.

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Regional Final – March 28
Midwest Region
No. 8 University of Cincinnati
No. 11 University of Texas-Austin
Neither team was expected to get this far, but now they’re on the cusp of our “Fundraising Final Four.” It was a valiant effort, Bearcats; as a No. 8 seed with $140.694 million raised last year, you have much of which to be proud. Cincinnati’s closest game was its very first, knocking off No. 8 Purdue before toppling No. 1 Kentucky and then No. 5 West Virginia, but they needed more to best the Longhorns and their $529.391 million in support.

West Region
No. 13 Harvard University
No. 10 The Ohio State University
OSU’s largest-ever campaign, “But For Ohio State,” launched publicly in 2012, aiming to raise $2.5 billion by next year. Last year, the Buckeyes tallied $332.627 million in support, enough to make a deep run in our tournament, but this is where it ends, as Harvard outdoes them with $1.155 billion.

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Fourth Round (Sweet 16), March 27
East Region
No. 8 North Carolina State University
No. 13 UC-Irvine
North Carolina State continues to take advantage of fortuitous match-ups, advancing to the Elite 8 with “just” $117.534 million in support last year, surpassing UC-Irvine and the $97.24 million it raised.

No. 2 University of Virginia
No. 7 University of Oklahoma
There are no upsets for Virginia if the tournament was based on fundraising. The No. 2 seed gets past No. 7 Oklahoma by a comfortable margin, raising $223.8 million to the Sooners’ $160.912 million.

South Region
No. 1 Duke University
No. 4 University of Utah
Perhaps like its basketball team, Utah flies under the radar, generating $194.893 million in support last year. It’s most recent campaign, “Together We Reach: The Campaign for the University of Utah,” raised $1.65 billion. But it’s not enough when you have to face Duke, which last year reported $437.381 million.

No. 7 University of Iowa
No. 11 UCLA
Iowa is closing in on $1.7 billion goal of its “For Iowa. Forever More” campaign, which to date has raised $1.432 billion. Last year, the school reported $146.747 million in support, so it’s a formidable opponent. But it runs into a powerhouse in UCLA, which raised $430.275 million last year.

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Fourth Round (Sweet 16) March 26

Midwest Region
No. 5 West Virginia University
No. 8 University of Cincinnati
Another higher seed advances, as Cincinnati reported $140.694 million in support last year, to upend West Virginia and the $85.322 million it raised. WVU started a capital campaign in June 2007, raising $538 million in a quiet phased, before publicly announcing the campaign five years later. To date, the school has raised $819 million toward the $1-billion goal of “State of Minds,” the largest in its history.

No. 10 Indiana University
No. 11 University of Texas-Austin
They were highly seeded in the basketball tournament but these are two serious heavyweights when it comes to fundraising, with a combined $870 million raised last year. The majority of that goes to Texas, with $529.391, to advance against Indiana, which last year reported $341.312 million, among the five highest totals among schools in the tournament.

West Region
No. 1 University of Wisconsin
No. 13 Harvard University
Like Indiana, fellow Big 12 member Wisconsin runs into a tough matchup before it can reach the Final Four. The $249.66 million reported by Wisconsin is among the 10 highest totals among the 68 schools in this year’s field, but it’s not enough to advance when you have to face Harvard and it’s $1.115 billion raised.

No. 10 The Ohio State University
No. 11 University of Mississippi
Speaking of matchups, Ole Miss reported $89.967 million in support last year, and probably advanced as far as could be expected thanks to some favorable opponents but it’s no match for Ohio State and its $332.627 million raised.

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Third Round, March 22

East Region
No. 3 Oklahoma University
No. 11 Boise State University
The Sooners reported $160.912 million in support last year, easily getting past Boise State and the Broncos’ $24.31 million.

No. 2 University of Virginia
No. 7 Michigan State University
Michigan State brings an impressive $117.565 million raised but Virginia turns back the Spartans, reporting $223.8 million to advance to the Fourth Round.

No. 12 University of Wyoming
No. 13 UC-Irvine
Two double-digit seeds square off for a spot in the Sweet 16 and it’s UC-Irvine and the $97.24 million raised last year that surpasses Wyoming’s $28.541 million.

South Region
No. 1 Duke University
No. 8 San Diego State University
The top-seeded Blue Devils continue to steamroll opponents with the $437.381 million reported in support despite the Aztecs’ decent $79.854 million showing.

No. 7 University of Iowa
No. 15 North Dakota State University
Iowa ends the Bison’s Cinderella hopes, raising $146.747 million, well more than the $25.54 million reported by North Dakota.

Midwest Region
No. 4 University of Maryland
No. 5 West Virginia University
This could be the closest pairing in the Third Round. Maryland brings $81.787 million to the court but West Virginia edges the Terrapins thanks to $85.322 million reported last year.

No. 2 University of Kansas
No. 10 Indiana University
Two of the blue bloods of college basketball meet in the fundraising arena, with Kansas raising a solid $162.242 million but not enough to advance as Indiana reported a whopping $341.312 million last year.

West Region
No. 1 University of Wisconsin
No. 9 Oklahoma State University
The Madison, Wisc.-based Badgers continue to maul opponents, with $249.66 million in fundraising last year, surpassing the Cowboys, who reported $76.101 million.

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Third Round, March 21

East Region
No. 1 Villanova University
No. 8 North Carolina State University
Villanova is the first top seed to fall, as its $53.685 million raised last year isn’t quite No. 1 seed material in this tournament. N.C. State raised $117.534 million to advance to the fourth round, and a spot in the Sweet 16.

Midwest Region
No. 1 University of Kentucky
No. 8 University of Cincinnati
Kentucky is the heavy favorite in the real-life tournament but our fundraising brackets have another top seed go down. Cincinnati reported $140.644 million last year, more than enough to get past Kentucky, which reported $105.565 million.

No. 3 University of Notre Dame
No. 11 University of Texas
A battle between two heavyweights as far as fundraising goes, Notre Dame brings an impressive $320.315 in support, which should be enough for a deep run in the tournament, but a second round matchup against Texas ends their run. The Austin school will be tough to beat, with $529.391 million reported last year.

West Region
No. 2 University of Arizona
No. 8 The Ohio State University
Another high seed says goodbye early. Ohio State reported $332.627 million, which could mean a strong run in the West region, and certainly enough to get by the Wildcats and their $186.191 million.

No. 3 Baylor University
No. 11 University of Mississippi
The Rebels look like they will be the Cinderella story in these brackets, going from a play-in bid to a spot in the Sweet 16 thanks to their $89.967 raised last year, just enough to advance against Baylor, which reported $80.859 million.

No. 5 University of Arkansas
No. 13 Harvard University
The West region is upside down as far as seeding goes with Harvard’s $1.155 billion making a statement and crushing Arkansas, despite the $101.022 million raised last year.

South Region
No. 4 Georgetown University
No. 5 University of Utah
The South Region is going more according to form than others but here Utah gets past the higher seed by raising $194.893 million. Georgetown reached a milestone in 2013, eclipsing $1 billion in a 10-year, $1.5-billion campaign (For Generations To Come: The Campaign for Georgetown) but last year’s $134.684 million raised isn’t enough to advance. To date, Georgetown has raised $1.39 billion.

No. 6 Southern Methodist University
No. 11 UCLA
UCLA squashes any hope of a Cinderella run by UAB. The fundraising juggernaut reported $430.275 million in support last year, overwhelming the much smaller UAB, which reported $80.024 million.

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Second Round, March 20
East Region
No. 2 University of Virginia
No. 15 Belmont University
Tiny Belmont has made some noise in the tournament before but it’ll be tough in our brackets. The Nashville, Tenn., school reported $10.34 million support last year, not quite enough to pull off an upset against Virginia and its $223.8 million.

No. 3 Oklahoma University
No. 14 University of Albany
The tournament is known for its David and Goliath matchups, and here’s another one. The Sooners reported $160.912 million in support compared with Albany’s $9.948 million, among the lowest of the 68 schools.

No. 4 University of Louisville
No. 13 UC-Irvine
Louisville has upped its game on the court as well as the fundraising arena in recent years, completing a billion-dollar campaign last April, three months ahead of schedule, with the help of $85.065 million in support last year. However, Irvine is part of the California system, a fundraising behemoth, and it tallied $97.24 million.

No. 5 University of Northern Iowa
No. 12 University of Wyoming
If you’re predicting brackets, it’s always wise to go with at least one 12 seed over a 5 seed. In this case, it’s Wyoming, which reported $28.541 million, overcoming the University of Northern Iowa’s $19.899 million.

No. 6 Providence College
No. 11 Boise State University
Here’s another “low-scoring” game, relatively speaking. Boise State had $24.31 million to $15.87 million raised by Providence.

No. 7 Michigan State University
No. 10 University of Georgia
The Big 12 schools should represent well in the fundraising brackets and Michigan State raised $117.565 million, enough to get past the Bulldogs of Georgia, which reported $96.087 million.

Midwest Region
No. 1 Duke University
No. 16 University of North Florida
This is one of those early-round mismatches. Duke is a powerhouse on the court and in fundraising, with $437.38 million. The University of North Florida has only been around since 1972, and last year raised $9.897 million.

No. 2 Gonzaga University
No. 15 North Dakota State University
It’s rare for a No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 on the court but it’s happened. It can happen in our fundraising bracket too. North Dakota State raised $25.54 million, according to financial statements for 2014, just a little bit more than Gonzaga’s $17.983 million, so the Bison advance.

No. 7 University of Iowa
No. 10 Davidson College
On the court, scrappy smaller schools might have a better shot at any upset but when it comes to fundraising, the bigger schools usually have been doing it longer. Iowa is toward the end of a comprehensive campaign begun in 2008 and reported $146.747 million last year compared with Davidson’s $45.936 million.

No. 8 San Diego State University
No. 9 St. John’s University
This one isn’t as close as your typical matchup between 8 and 9 seeds. San Diego State had a healthy $79.854 million raised last year while the smaller Queens, N.Y., school reported some $17.5 million.

South Region
No. 2 University of Kansas
No. 15 New Mexico State University
New Mexico State has made noise in the tournament before and Kansas can be boom or bust. As far as fundraising though, this was a breather for the Jayhawks, raising $162.242 million to NMSU’s $13.927 million.

No. 4 University of Maryland
No. 13 Valparaiso University
Maryland has a huge supporter of athletics in Kevin Plank, founder Under Armour. The College Park, Md. school raised $81.787 million, well more than the $13.582 million raised by the small school outside Gary, Ind.

No. 5 West Virginia University
No. 12 University at Buffalo
Buffalo has been growing and is in the tournament for the first time ever. The $33.299 million raised last year is not small change but it pales to West Virginia’s $85.322 million.

No. 7 Wichita State University
No. 10 Indiana University
Wichita State has had record years for contributions of late and its foundation in December launched a campaign with a working goal of $200 million. Last year, the Shockers reported $26.363 million in support but they run into a fundraising behemoth in round one; Indiana raised $341.312 million last year.

West Region
No. 1 University of Wisconsin-Madison
No. 16 Coastal Carolina University
This could be one of the widest margins of the tournament, with Wisconsin raising $249.661 million last year while the Conway, S.C. school reported $5.332 million.

No. 8 University of Oregon
No. 9 Oklahoma State University
An interesting pairing of schools with some of the biggest benefactors around, with Nike’s Phil Knight giving to Oregon and financier T. Boone Pickens backing Oklahoma State. Last year, Oklahoma State reported $76.101 million, edging Oregon’s $68.221 million.

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The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament gets under way in earnest today with 16 games. Here’s what the results would look like if they were based on fundraising:
Second Round, March 19
East Region
No. 1 Villanova
No. 16 Lafayette
Separated by just 60 miles or so, the two private Pennsylvania schools aren’t too far apart in fundraising either. Villanova prevails though, raising $53.685 million to Lafayette’s $36.938 million, so it’s the top-seeded Wildcats moving on to the third round instead of the Leopards.

No. 8 North Carolina State University
No. 9 Louisiana State University
Another tight matchup, this time between two state schools from the South. The higher-seeded Wolfpack raised $117.534 million, edging past the Tigers of LSU, which reported $110.644 million last year.

Midwest Region
No. 1 University of Kentucky
No. 16 Hampton University
The Wildcats are much heralded on the court as the top overall seed and more than hold their own in the fundraising arena, raising $105.565 million last year, surpassing the $15.779 reported by Hampton.

No. 3 Notre Dame University
No. 14 Northeastern University
As a No. 3 seed, the Fighting Irish will be a formidable force on the court and their fundraising is just as strong, raking in $320.315 million last year, more than enough to put away the Huskies. Boston-based Northeastern reported $39.642 million last year, in the midst of a $1-billion “Empower: The Campaign For Northeastern University,” which aims to raise $1 billion by 2017 – half in philanthropic support and half from industry and government partnerships.

No. 6 Butler University
No. 11 University of Texas-Austin
In one of the widest disparities between two teams in the tournament, little Butler may be scrappy on the court but it can’t really compare to the mammoth Texas fundraising juggernaut. The Austin, Texas school raised $529.391 million while the recent two-time NCAA Championship runner-up from Indianapolis, Ind., tallied $12.356 million.

No. 8 University of Cincinnati
No. 9 Purdue University
In a clash between Midwest foes, it’s the Bearcats advancing in another relatively close matchup. Cincinnati raised $140.694 million to Purdue’s $129.489 million.

South Region
No. 3 Iowa State University
No. 14 University of Alabama-Birmingham
By seeding, this is the biggest upset of the tournament so far, with the No. 14 Blazers garnering $80.004 million in support last year, surpassing the third-seeded Cyclones’ $64.853 million.

No. 4 Georgetown
No. 13 Eastern Washington
Another chasm in the difference between fundraising in this first-round matchup as the Cheyney, Wash.-based university reported raising $2.482 million (the smallest amount among the 72 schools) while Georgetown is often among the top 50 schools in the nation, tallying $134.684 million last year.

No. 5 University of Utah
No. 12 Stephen F. Austin University
The Lumberjacks have been mentioned as a sleeper Cinderella pick in this year’s tournament but raising $10.753 million last year won’t be enough to get past the University of Utah, which reported $194.893 million.

No. 6 Southern Methodist University
No. 11 UCLA
Just this week, SMU announced a $2 million gift, and its “SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign” has raised more than $942 million toward a $1-billion goal, which expects to be reached later this year. The Mustangs boasted $111.19 million raised last year, according to the annual report, but runs into a fundraising behemoth in the first round. UCLA is routinely among the top universities in the country and last year reported $430.275 in giving.

West Region
No. 2 University Arizona
No. 15 Texas Southern University
Texas Southern is one of two historically black colleges in the tournament (the other being Hampton University). The Houston-based school raised $55.499 million, according to the 2013 president’s report, covering Fiscal Year Ending 2012, but to advance in this tournament, it needed a bit more. Arizona reported $186.191 million, moving on to the third round.

No. 3 Baylor University
No. 14 Georgia State University
Yet another Texas school in the tourney, Baylor University raised $80.859 million in 2013-14. That’s more than enough for the Bears to advance past the Georgia State Panthers, which reported $10.475 million.

No. 4 University of North Carolina
No. 13 Harvard University
This first round game could feature the highest combined total from two schools ($1.453 billion). In any other bracket, North Carolina could make a push for the Sweet 16 or farther, having raised $298.804 million last year. Still, it’s no match for Harvard’s $1.155 billion and so the No. 13 seed is through to the third round.

No. 5 University of Arkansas
No. 12 Wofford College
The Terriers are among the trendy Cinderella picks in some brackets and the $10.213 million raised last year is impressive for the tiny Spartanburg, S.C. school but it’s tough to get too far in this tournament without a higher number. Wofford falls to Arkansas, which reported $101.022 million.

No. 6 Xavier University
No. 11 University of Mississippi
The Rebels appear to start what could be the Cinderella run of the tournament, winning a play-in game and upending the Musketeers in the second round. The $89.967 million reported by Ole Miss surpasses Xavier’s $20.957 million.

No. 7 Virginia Commonwealth University
No. 10 The Ohio State University
The Rams have been tournament darlings in recent years and the Richmond, Va. school totaled gifts of $64.19 million last year, however, they run into a first-round matchup against one of the largest schools in the nation. Ohio State reported $332.627 million last year.

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First Round, March 18
No. 16 Manhattan College
No. 16 Hampton University
The first game in NPT’s “Fundraising Fanaticism” bracket could very well be the closest of the entire tournament. Though neither participated in the VSE survey, Manhattan College estimated fundraising at $15.379 million while Hampton University raised $15.779 million, according to its audited financial statements. A margin of just $400,000 — that’s just a few more major gifts! That means the Pirates will move on to face No. 1 overall seed Kentucky on Thursday night in the Midwest region.

No. 11 University of Mississippi
No. 11 Brigham Young University
The figure we came up with for Brigham Young University (BYU), which does not participate in the VSE survey, is likely incomplete as the 2014 annual giving report showed about $29.9 million in donations. The Provo, Utah school is in the midst of an $80-million campaign to build a new College of Engineering. BYU is among the affiliated charities overseen by LDS Philanthropies – a department of the Office of the Presiding Bishopric responsible for donations to The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints. The University of Mississippi topped that number fairly easily, reporting $89.967 million last year. The Rebels advance to a second-round matchup in the West region on Thursday against Cincinnati, Ohio-based Xavier University.

No. 16 University of North Florida
No. 16 Robert Morris University
This matchup could feature the lowest combined fundraising totals between two teams in the tournament. The University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., reported $9.897 million in support last year while Robert Morris University, located outside Pittsburgh, Pa., tallied $3.985 million. Making their first-ever appearance in the tournament, the Ospreys advance to the second round to face Duke, the No. 1 seed in the South region, on Friday.

No. 11 Boise State University
No. 11 University of Dayton
In another close matchup between small schools, it’s the Broncos of Boise State edging the Dayton Flyers by only a few million dollars. Boise State reported $24.31 million in support last year, compared with Dayton’s $20.198 million. That means a trip to the second round on Friday to face Providence, the No. 6 seed in the East region.

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Tip-Off!

March 17 — The University of Kentucky is unquestionably the number one seed in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, one of the few teams in history to enter the playoff undefeated. But would they rank as highly if they were slotted based on their fundraising?

Follow The NonProfit Times this month as we take a closer look at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from a different perspective. In our bracket, teams will advance to the next round based on their fundraising prowess. For anyone familiar with university fundraising, there won’t be too much drama about what school might be the ultimate 2015 champion in NPT’s “Fundraising Fanaticism” bracket but half the fun will be the matchups and following along in your own bracket.

Participating schools reported an aggregate total of at least $8.41 billion raised, or an average of $123.748 million, and a median of $81.323 million. That sum represents almost a quarter of the record $37.45 million reported last year, according to Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey by the Council on Aid to Education (CAE). Fundraising figures for almost all of the 68 schools will come from the VSE survey, which covers the 2013-14 school year. For those that did not participate in the survey, NPT contacted schools individually or retrieved figures from financial or annual reports that could be found online.

The tournament tips off tonight with four play-in games, with winners advancing to the second round on Thursday and Friday. Check the NPT website tomorrow for an update on the opening round and follow along for updates throughout the tournament. The tournament culminates with the Final Four in Indianapolis, Ind., on April 4 and the National Championship on April 6.