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Who to root for in March Madness, based on things other than basketball

Want to root for a college with low student debt? Pick Hampton.
Want to root for a college with low student debt? Pick Hampton.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

The bracket deadline is past and March Madness is well underway. But arguing about colleges based solely on their basketball teams is a huge missed opportunity. March Madness is a great time to make a bigger point about higher education in America. Do you want to argue about the immorality of college sports? Or about the prevalence of student debt? Do you need a non-basketball reason to root for an underdog who won't go all the way?

We're here for you. This flowchart will help you pick a Final Four and an eventual champion to root for based on something other than basketball talent. It will help you start arguments over chips and salsa. And if you do it right, you can enjoy the pleasures of sports and self-righteousness all at the same time.

Data sources: Coach salary data comes from USA Today (2013-14 academic year) and, in some cases, independent research. The academic progress and graduation success rate bracket is from Inside Higher Ed, based on NCAA data. In April 2014, CBS Sports compiled the list of the colleges sending the most players to the NBA before graduation. Net price data is from the US Education Department for the 2012-13 academic year, compiled by Robert Kelchen of Seton Hall. Student debt for the class of 2013 is from the Institute for College Access and Success's CollegeInSight, which draws on the Common Data Set. It excludes North Dakota State, Xavier, and Northeastern, which do not submit data. Four-year graduation rates are from the US Education Department and include only first-time, full-time students; this chart relies on the top rates pulled by US News and World Report. Presidential compensation data is from the Chronicle of Higher Education's report on private college presidents in the 2012 calendar year and public college presidents in the 2013 fiscal year.

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