InsideHigherEd.com—an online trade publication for higher education—released today its own picks for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket based solely on academic standards, and Nashville’s Belmont Bruins won the Championship trophy. On the road to the Championship, Belmont “defeated” some fellow academic powerhouses, including tomorrow night’s opponent Temple University, as well as Maryland, Yale and Baylor. In the Championship game on this bracket, the Bruins scored a win over Villanova to claim the Academic Championship. This marks the third time Belmont has claimed the InsideHigherEd Academic Bracket Championship, previously winning in 2013 and 2015.
This season the Belmont men (26-5) secured their 10th conference regular season championship in 14 years. Last night the team learned on the CBS Selection Sunday live telecast that they had earned the first NCAA Tournament at-large bid in program history, and only the second in Ohio Valley Conference history. This will be Belmont’s eighth NCAA Tournament appearance, and the Bruins will face Temple University tomorrow in the First Four of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “This is truly an incredible accomplishment. To win the Inside Higher Ed academic bracket for the third time proves our Athletics department is focusing on all the right priorities, and I couldn’t be more proud of our men’s basketball team. Truly, nothing makes me happier than to see our student-athletes ‘win’ off the court, performing well in the classroom, serving in the community and landing careers that fulfill their personal dreams… But you can also bet I’ll be the one cheering the most loudly in Dayton tomorrow night.”
The Inside Higher Ed website annually completes an NCAA bracket based on each team’s academic performance, with teams in the bracket “competing” based on Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores, the N.C.A.A.’s multiyear measure of a team’s classroom performance. If teams tie on APR, Inside Higher Ed then moves to Graduation Success Rate, which measures the proportion of athletes on track to graduate within six years. Belmont’s men’s basketball currently boasts a perfect 1000-point APR as well as a 100 percent graduation success rate.
Belmont Director of Athletics Scott Corley added, “Earning the Academic National Championship from InsideHigherEd is a tremendous honor for our program. We continue to take a lot of pride in the academic achievements of our student-athletes under Coach [Rick] Byrd’s leadership. This award is a testament to all the hard work and dedication the players put into their academic pursuits.”
The Inside Higher Ed academic bracket is just the beginning of a phenomenal story in men’s college basketball. Here are a few stats to consider:
In the Classroom and the Community
- 18 straight years with 3.0 or higher team GPA
- 17 Academic All-American selections since 2001 (leads NCAA), including senior Dylan Windler this season
- Belmont is one of only three NCAA Division I programs to make the Academic Progress rate Honor Roll every year
- Team members serve in the community every year and participate in annual overseas mission trips, among other activities
On the Court
- Belmont men’s basketball has won 17 NCAA Division I Conference Titles since 2006 — Only Kansas and Gonzaga have won more conference championships over that span
- Belmont has earned postseason invitations 13 of the last 14 years, including eight automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament.
- The Bruins rank top 25 nationally in 12 statistical categories, including first in assists per game and total assists, second in scoring offense and assist to turnover ratio, fifth in field goal percentage, and sixth in offensive efficiency and defensive rebounding.
Coach Rick Byrd
- Coach Byrd is in his 33rd season at Belmont University
- Ranks 5th among all active NCAA Div. I head coaches in career wins with 804
- Recognized this year as a candidate for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2019
- Named a finalist this year for both the Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year Award and Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award
- Received the NCAA Bob Frederick Award in 2013 for his lifelong commitment to sportsmanship, ethical conduct and fair play
- Inducted into both the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame
For more information on the Inside Higher Ed bracket, click here. Tip-off Tuesday for the Belmont Bruins versus the Temple Owls is set for 8:10 p.m. CT from University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The game will be broadcast on truTV, March Madness Live and Westwood One.