Sometimes the best marketing a school can do happens naturally. When a university advances far in March Madness, that school often sees a boost in applications the subsequent year. Since students apply in Regular Decision by January 1st, it’s too late to boost the applications for the next class but the data often suggests there is likely to be an uptick the subsequent year. While we’ve focused on some of these upticks over the years at highly selective college, our most thorough analysis was the uptick experienced by a less selective college, George Mason University when the Patriots advanced to the NCAA Final Four in stunning fashion in 2006 under the leadership of our friend and current University of Miami coach Jim Larranaga.
But every now and then an Ivy League university can advance far in March Madness. Brown is 0-2 in their two appearances as the representative of the Ivy League in the NCAA Tournament. Columbia has represented the Ivy League on three occasions, with their finest moment coming way back in 1968. It’s been a while for the Lions of Columbia. In 2010, the Cornell Big Red were a veritable Cinderella story, advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen before falling to powerhouse Kentucky. Dartmouth hasn’t been to the NCAA Tourney since 1944. And don’t hold your breath this year! Dartmouth is currently in last place in the Ivy League basketball standings. Last year, Harvard upset New Mexico in the opener in a thriller, their first NCAA Tourney victory in the university’s history. Penn has represented the Ivy League on 23 occasions. That’s right. 23 occasions. In fact, in 1978-1979, they fell in the NCAA Final Four to a Magic Johnson-led Michigan State squad. Princeton has made the NCAA Tournament 24 times — an Ivy League record — and they’ve pulled off some notable upsets over the years. And of course there were also the days of Bill Bradley at Princeton…a notable time in the school’s storied basketball tradition. Yale has made the tournament three times and are 0-3 on wins.
At present, Harvard and Yale, with one NCAA Tournament win between them over the years, sit atop the Ivy League at 5-1 in conference play. Princeton is 3-2. Columbia and Cornell are 3-3. Penn is 2-3. And Brown and Dartmouth are 1-5. It’s our projection that Tommy Amaker, the man we believe to be the successor at Duke to Coach K, will once again lead the Crimson into March Madness by winning the Ivy League title. And indeed, should Harvard advance far in the NCAA Tourney, we indeed expect to see increased applications at Harvard the subsequent admissions cycle.