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Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans stand out in academic-based NCAA tournament brackets

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard, left, shakes hands with Michigan State counterpart Tom Izzo after their game on March 4 in Ann Arbor. (AP file photo)

By AARON BEARD

AP Basketball Writer

INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan fell short of the Final Four, but the Wolverines stood out in a study that seeded the NCAA Tournament fields based on academics and diversity.

Michigan was the only school to claim a No. 1 seed in both the men’s and women’s brackets released last week by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at Central Florida, with the study crowning Juwan Howard’s Wolverines the men’s national champion for the second straight year.

On the women’s side, Gonzaga was named national champion and nearly joined Michigan as the only school with a No. 1 seed in both of the brackets. Mark Few’s men’s team — which was vying Monday night to become the first unbeaten national champion in 45 years — was a No. 2 seed.

“It’s meant as a reminder as everybody is in a frenzied state now because of the great basketball being played on the courts and wonderful games that these are also student-athletes,” said Richard Lapchick, TIDES director and lead study author, on Wednesday.

The study focused on team Graduation Success Rate and Academic Progress Rate scores, GSR gaps between white and Black players, and the racial or gender diversity of head coaches.

The men’s No. 1 seeds included Villanova, Michigan State and West Virginia, while Colgate, Connecticut and Alabama joined Gonzaga as 2-seeds. Among the Final Four teams, Baylor and Houston were each 6-seeds while UCLA — which upset Michigan in the East Region final — was a No. 16.

For the women, Lehigh and Stanford joined Gonzaga and Michigan on the top lines, while Louisville, Northwestern, Marist and Stony Brook were 2-seeds. Among the Final Four teams, Connecticut was a 6-seed while South Carolina and Arizona wree both 12s.

This is the second bracket report by TIDES, which also releases annual studies examining diversity-hiring practices for college athletics and professional leagues such as the NFL, NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer.