MBA March Madness

In addition to MBA decision season, this time of year is all about basketball. If you are one of the millions of hoops fans out there, you may be wondering where you can get a great graduate business education and also a seat at some great basketball games.  Here's a ranking of schools where you can have both.

#1 DUKE--Fuqua School of Business

Basketball at Duke is like religion and it's just as strong at Fuqua as it is with undergrads.  It doesn't hurt that Cameron indoor stadium is right across the street from the b-school, and MBA students have the added benefit of only having to camp out for tickets once for the whole season.  The annual Fuqua bball campout is a time-honored tradition where students team up with classmates to spend an entire weekend standing in line for season tickets and splitting them up with their team (undergrads must camp out for each game).  The defending 2015 National Champions are no strangers to atmospheric rankings in basketball, and with a total of 86 Blue Devils having been drafted all-time into the pros, their achievements are well-pedigreed. Hall-of-Famer Mike Krzyzewski took over as Head Coach in 1980 and has led Duke to 12 Final Fours and 5 National Championships in that time. In the past five years, Duke’s draft choices have included #1 Kyrie Irving (2011), #2 Jabari Parker (2014), and #3 Jalil Okafor (2015)

#2 UNC - Kenan Flagler Business School

Just eight miles down the road is the second-best choice for an MBA-basketball combo school.  The program that produced #3 Draft pick Michael Jordan (1984), perhaps the Greatest Basketball Player of All Time, has fallen on hard times as of late, but still remains a great choice for an MBA if you love basketball. Despite winning National Championships in 2005 and 2009, the Tar Heels under Hall of Fame Coach Roy Williams have not returned to the Final Four since. Still, the Heels have produced seven NBA draft picks in the last five years, including four players chosen in the Top 20 picks of 2012: #7 Harrison Barnes, #13 Kendall Marshall, #14 John Henson, and #17 Tyler Zeller.

#3 UCLA- Anderson School of Management

If you're keen on the West Coast for b-school and you can't get into Stanford (who also has a proud basketball tradition), you can't do better than UCLA, where you can get quality basketball and a top tier MBA at the same time.  When Hall of Fame Coach John Wooden led the Bruins to seven consecutive NCAA Championships (1967-73), he produced a slew of legendary talent including #1 overall picks Bill Walton (1974) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969). But UCLA fans have short memories and when Ben Howland couldn’t win a Championship despite three-straight Final Fours (2006-8), he was replaced in 2013 by Coach Steve Alford, himself a winner of a National Championship in 1987 as a player at Indiana. UCLA has had one sole Lottery pick in the past five drafts, #13 Zach LaVine (2014).

#4 Virginia - Darden School of Business

Sometimes known as the HBS you might just be able to get into, Darden also happens to have one of the best basketball teams  in the country. Virginia's Cavaliers can be a good break from the rigors of Darden's case method, with the Cavs winning record over the past several seasons continuing this year with a number one ranking as they headed into this year's NCAA tourney. Coach Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers were shocked, however, with  when his defending ACC regular season champions lost in a record upset to UMBC in the first round. So goes March Madness.  Of the 19 Virginia players drafted all-time, #1 Pick Ralph Sampsom (1983) is the best-known.

#5 Michigan - Ross School of Business

The Ross School of Business has flourished with a $50MM follow-on gift from their naming donor, Stephen Ross last year.  Despite the Michigan men's basketball team missing out on the big dance this year, the Wolverines had been flourishing the past few seasons under Coach John Beilein, narrowly losing to Louisville in the 2013 Championship game. They made the Elite Eight in 2014, losing to powerhouse Kentucky but stumbled a bit in 2015, finishing a mediocre 16-16, and missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010. Still, the Wolverines have produced more than a handful of NBA talent, with #8 Nik Stauskas (2014) and #9 Trey Burke (2013) going in the Lottery.

#6 Texas - McCombs School of Business

The Longhorns hoped for big things under new Coach Shaka Smart, who led mid-major Virginia Commonwealth to the NCAA Tournament five times, including an amazing Final Four run in 2011. Under former coach Rick Barnes, the Longhorns were a roller-coaster team, but did produce two Lottery picks, #4 Tristan Thompson (2011) and #11 Myles Turner (2015).  They got knocked out in the first round of this year's tournament, but given their history and the high quality education at McCombs, you really can't go wrong.

#7 Indiana - Kelley School of Business

Hovering around the top 20 business schools, Kelley also has one of the most storied basketball programs in the country.  The Hoosiers boast the best average Draft position of any school in the top tier, and are the only team with all their players selected in the Lottery. Under Coach Tom Crean, Indiana is a mainstay in the NCAA Tournament fields. Notable lottery picks were #2 Victor Oladipo & #4 Cody Zeller (2013) and #9 Noah Vonleh (2014).

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