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  • Writer's pictureTommy Sangchompuphen

March Madness Reimagined: 68 Teams, 37 Law Schools, 1 Champion

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has begun with the First Four taking place at the University of Dayton. This year, I'm giving March Madness a legal twist, moving the excitement from the basketball court to the courtroom. From the hardwood to the halls of justice. From the sports arena to the legal arena.


Welcome to the “Law School Bracket Challenge,” where the thrill of NCAA basketball meets bar passage rates!


The Concept: 68 Teams, 37 Law Schools, 1 Champion.

Law School Bracket Challenge
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In this unique single-elimination challenge, I’ve reimagined the 2024 NCAA tournament by focusing solely on those teams associated with universities that have law schools accredited by the American Bar Association. Out of the 68 colleges and universities that made it into the 2024 men’s basketball tournament, 37 boast law schools. But here's the twist in this challenge: I'm reseeding these 37 teams based on the most recent first-time bar passage rates published by the ABA, and then taking the schools' performance on the basketball court and on the bar exam into account when advancing them to the next round.


Why bar passage rates, you might ask? For one, I have more than two decades of experience helping students pass the bar exam, so any reimagined tournament bracket would, of course, involve bar passage rates in some way. But, also, bar passage rates reflect a law school's ability to prepare its students for one of the most challenging professional exams. For instance, high passage rates can indicate strong programs of legal education, robust academic support programs, and effective teaching methodologies.


Now, these rates (both first-time and ultimate bar passage rates) can play a significant role in this reimagined bracket challenge, where a law school’s bar passage rates are examined alongside its institution’s basketball excellence.


The rules of the "Law School Bracket Challenge" are simple:


1.        Reseeding Based on Bar Passage Rates: The 37 law schools in the NCAA tournament are reseeded according to their most recent first-time bar passage rates as published by the ABA. The higher the rate, the better the seed. And we’re only using the first-time bar passage rates for students who take the bar exam. So, this does not include alternative pathways to licensing like the diploma privilege (sorry, Marquette!).


Based on the ABA data, here are the new seeds:


(1) Wisconsin (100.00%)

(2) Yale (96.79%)

(3) BYU (95.41%)

(4) Duke (94.44%)

(5) Texas (94.01%)

(6) Texas A&M (92.99%)

(7) Texas Tech (92.09%)

(8) North Carolina (92.00%)

(9) Kansas (91.86%)

(10) Villanova (91.81%)

(11) Baylor (91.61%)

(12) Northwestern (91.60%)

(13) Alabama (91.30%)

(14) Drake (90.63%)

(15) Dayton (86.49%)

(16) Houston (86.01%)

(17) Tennessee (83.65%)

(18) Duquesne (83.33%)

(19) New Mexico (81.91%)

(20) Florida (81.86%)

(21) South Carolina (81.60%)

(22) Colorado (81.14%)

(23) Connecticut (80.95%)

(24) Arizona (78.45%)

(25) Samford (78.36%)

(26) Stetson (76.98%)

(27) Oregon (76.67%)

(28) Nebraska (76.19%)

(29) Howard (74.22%)

(30) Kentucky (74.19%)

(31) St. Mary's (73.47%)

(32) Michigan State (72.78%)

(33) Illinois (72.48%)

(34) Akron (72.15%)

(35) Gonzaga (65.69%)

(36) Creighton (65.31%)

(37) Marquette (0.00%)


2.        First Round Winners: The winners of the first round are determined in a unique way. Instead of competing directly against each other, the success of a law school team is based on the number of points they score in their actual NCAA tournament game, regardless of the opponent or the game's outcome. The law school team with the higher point total against its "Law School Bracket Challenge" opponent advances to the second round.


3.        Subsequent Rounds: After the first round, where law school teams advance based on their point totals in the actual NCAA tournament games, the scoring is modified to ensure that remaining teams in the "Law School Bracket Challenge" can continue, regardless of their status in the actual NCAA tournament. For each matchup in these rounds, the scoring will be a weighted score considering two aspects:

  • Basketball Performance: This includes the actual game points for teams still in the NCAA tournament, or the average points per game over the regular season for eliminated teams. This factor accounts for 60% of the law school team's score.

  • Ultimate Bar Passage Rate: The remaining 40% of the team's score is made up of the law school's most recent ultimate bar passage rate, again, as published by the ABA. (The "ultimate bar passage rate," as defined by the ABA, measures the percentage of a law school's graduates who pass the bar exam within two years of graduation. This rate sometimes provides a more comprehensive view of a law school's effectiveness in preparing its students for legal practice, as it includes those who pass the bar after multiple attempts, not just on their first try.)

The law school team with the higher weighted score against its opponent advances to the next round until a champion is crowned. This allows recognition of not only the athletic prowess of the schools' basketball teams but also the bar passage rates of their respective law schools.

With the 37 teams lined up and the bracket set, it's time to launch this fun and unique tournament where legal smarts meet basketball skills.


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