My University Generosity formula may not make it on ESPN, but it has produced some real gems over the years. Remember Davidson’s run back in 2009? Sure, they had Steph Curry, but nobody knew who he was back then. How about when Ivy Champ Cornell went to the Sweet 16 in 2010, upending perennial studs Temple and Wisconsin along the way? I called both of ’em.

So, who will wear Cindarella’s slippers this year? Will it be a perrenially-generous basketball powerhouse like Duke or a generous newcomer like Northwestern? (Click here to download the complete 2017 University Generosity Tournament Bracket.)

If you’re struggling to figure out which school to choose in the near-equal 8-9 matchup; if you’re frustrated that the Intern in Accounting always wins because she selects the teams with the best colors; if you cannot name a single player on any team, then try my approach. At the very least, it’ll give you a window into which colleges are most likely to meet your financial needs with five-figure scholarships or grants AND graduate your child in 4, not 6 years. Now that’s a return on an investment I can get behind.

So, with that said, here are a few intriguing matchups that I’m highlighting this year:

1. In the first round, Vanderbilt takes on first-time dancer Northwestern. Both schools boast ridiculously competitive 11% admit rates, and both meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need. Vanderbilt’s slightly higher 4-year graduation rate (88% to 85%) will make the Wildcats first appearance a one-and-done experience. Take Vandy.

2. Notre Dame vs. Princeton: This is another brainiac first round matchup. Notre Dame is one of my perennial favorites, which are strong words coming from a Miami fan. Still, I cannot deny their strong financial aid record (100%) and their impressive 91% graduation rate. And their kids are pretty smart, too. They get the slight edge over Princeton because their graduation rate is a mere 1 point higher. Go Irish!

3. In the Elite 8 I have Duke over Virginia. Both schools meet 100% of demonstrated need, and both graduate 87% in 4 years. I went with Duke because, well, they’re Duke. My tiebreaker is on-court performance, and Duke beats UVA any day in my book. An ACC toss-up!

4. The “First Four” game between USC and Providence has some intrigue. While USC meets 100% of demonstrated need, Providence isn’t too bad at 87%, and they boast a 4-year graduation rate of 83%. I went with USC and even have them beating SMU (90% need and 67% 4-year grad rate) and then Baylor, but then losing to Duke in the Sweet 16. Trojans are my dark horse.

5. The best conference represented, by far, is the ACC. On this point Dickie V. and I will both agree but perhaps for different reasons. My Final Four is an all-ACC event, with Miami sneaking in there only because of recent financial aid performance. As a whole, this conference contains the best collection of top colleges with histories of generosity and 4-year graduation rates. Only the Ivy League is better, but they only send one team to the Big Dance each year.

Get College Pete’s 2017 College University Generosity Bracketology by clicking the image below to open the PDF full screen.

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