Archive for Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Heard on the Hill: From report cards to federal spending, there’s a bracket for just about everything these days

March 15, 2011

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• It’s March, and we’re right in the middle of bracket-mania. Every year at about this time, World Company colleague Jonathan Kealing invariably asks me about all the wacky brackets that start to filter out associated with the tournament.

So, here you go, JK, from graduation rates to 535-foot towers to spending on federal lobbying, this bracket-centric version of Heard on the Hill is for you.

• Some of this is taken from The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Tweed blog, which announced it would be doing its own sort of bracket, with teams selected using esoteric, off-the-wall kinds of information about the schools.

Pittsburgh, for example, gets a Final Four pick because of its 535-foot tall Cathedral of Learning.

“No one’s making a jump shot over that,” wrote blog author Don Troop.

Here are some other strange brackets that he found.

• Like I do every year at about this time, I wrote about how KU fared in the Academic Progress Tournament at Inside Higher Ed.

It’s drawn on data collected by the NCAA and by the The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. KU made the Final Four, losing only to Butler.

That meant, sadly, that KU failed to repeat as 2010 champions.

• Most of these zany brackets haven’t released their 2011 editions yet. That’s the case for the The Center for Responsive Politics’ K Street College Classic, an annual roundup that tracks how much each school in the tournament spends on federal lobbying.

But here’s last year’s bracket.

There’s KU in the Final Four again, spending $491,000 on federal lobbying in 2009. That was good enough for the seventh-highest total overall among NCAA tournament teams that year.

• Also look for Raymond’s highly scientific predictions for the NCAA tournament on the rather nerdy tech blog The Old New Thing. Last year, KU went to the Final Four on the strength of Google hits on a search of the team name and “basketball,” probably a good way to set KU up for success.

The theme apparently differs each year, and whoever Raymond is seems to have attracted a small but devoted following that looks forward to his picks each year.

• People love 64-team brackets, and this spills well over into all kinds of walks of life. One of my favorite brackets every year is the Name of the Year competition, which takes nominees of names that are supposedly real and verified, and pits them against each other.

Here’s this year's bracket.

Steele Sidebottom, a No. 4 seed, won the online voting this year. He’s an Australian-rules football player.

There are lots more of these, too.

• Send me any tips you’ve got on filling out the real bracket. I’m going to need them. I’ll take other tips for Heard on the Hill, too. Send them all to ahyland@ljworld.com.

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